Coping with the loss of a loved one can cause many feelings to rise to the surface, such as pain, frustration and sorrow. We’ve put together a list of books about grief that open up honest discussions about loss and can be a great help to anyone in the grieving process.
Non-fiction books about death and grief self-help books.
Sometimes it can be helpful to have someone tell you what to do, or explain to you why you’re feeling this way, or even show you a way to grieve that’s different from the norm. This is a list of helpful non-fiction books about grief and loss.
Bearing the Unbearable - Dr. Joanne Cacciatore
Bearing the Unbearable is for anyone dealing with the traumatic death of a loved one, whether that is a spouse, friend or child. The book reveals how grief can open our hearts to connection, compassion, and the very essence of our shared humanity. Dr. Joanne Cacciatore is a bereavement educator, researcher and leading counsellor in the field of grief.
Don’t Die Without Me - Claire Hoffman
Written by Bare’s very own Claire Hoffman, Don’t Die Without Me is a practical guide to planning your own funeral and taking care of your family after you pass away. Claire created this guide after her own experience with grief.
This organiser can help you identify your core values and beliefs, feel more in control of your life, structure a framework for you and others to navigate, prevent your family from further hardship and turmoil and allow you to leave the legacy of your choosing.
The Other Side of Sadness - George Bonanno
For those who feel like the standard five stages of grief doesn’t work for them, then this book about death and grief is for you. Exploring a research-based outlook on grief and a practical perspective on death, Bonnano looks at the concept of resilience and how without it, it does a disservice to those in need.
Perfect for anyone interested in a scientific look at bereavement and what our culture gets right and wrong when processing grief.
How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies - Therese A. Rando
Written by an award winning clinical psychologist, this book about grief gently leads you through the painful but necessary process of grieving. It talks through understanding and resolving your grief, looking after yourself and accepting the help and support of others. A great read for those who have experienced the death of a parent, partner or loved one.
It’s OK That You’re Not OK - Megan Devine
The current culture surrounding death doesn’t adequately prepare us with the right tools to cope with our grief. It’s OK That You’re Not OK is helpful for people experiencing grief and people supporting those experiencing grief. Readers will find spiritual wisdom, advice, practical guidance and more in this heartfelt and helpful guide through grief.
Fiction books about grief.
Reading fiction is one of the best forms of escapism, especially if you have a great imagination and can transport yourself to the world you’re reading about.
Here is a list of some fiction books that openly discuss death and grief, because sometimes nonfiction is a little too heavy, and we want a story that has a chance of a happy ending.
Competitive Grieving - Nora Zelevanksy
Wren can’t quite believe that her best friend, Stewart, is dead. Assigned the task of distributing his possessions leaves Wren remembering the boy Stewart was and investigating the man he became. Wren finds herself wondering, did she even know this person who she once considered an extension of herself?
The Fault in Our Stars - John Green
A great book for teens, this story follows Hazel, a 16 year old girl living her life with a terminal illness. She meets a beautiful boy in her cancer support group named Augustus, and his outlook on life completely changes her own. The book explores the themes of coming of age, life and death, and identity, and is great representation of grief and celebrating life.
The Beginner’s Goodbye - Anne Tyler
The Beginner’s Goodbye is a beautiful, subtle exploration of loss and recovery, pierced throughout with humour and wisdom.
Living with a disability, Aaron spends his life having the people close to him try and manage him, until he meets the love of his life, Dorothy, who is a spirited and independent individual. They marry, but she dies suddenly and Aaron is lost, until he begins seeing visions of Dorothy, which helps him live in the moment and find some peace.
Fifty Words for Rain - Asha Lemmie
This story is a sweeping, heart-wrenching coming-of-age novel about a young woman's quest for acceptance in post–World War II Japan. Nori is abandoned by her mother and left to live with her grandparents, who are ashamed of her and try to hide her away from the world. Rather than the grief of loss, Lemmie explores the grief of abandonment as Nori attempts to discover who she is in a world that doesn’t accept her.
The Last Post - Renée Carlino
The Last Post follows a young widow who will learn what it means to get a second chance at love. After Laya’s husband Cameron dies in an accident, Laya becomes obsessed with posting messages on his Facebook account, convinced he isn’t dead and will still come back to her. Micah, who works at Laya’s father’s business, notices and dedicates himself to trying to coax Laya out of her grief and back into a full life.
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close - Jonathan Safran Foer
Oskar was 9 years old when his father died at the World Trade Centre on 9/11. He discovers a key hidden in his fathers closet and sets out to discover where it comes from. It is a search which leads him into the lives of strangers, through the five boroughs of New York, into history, to the bombings of Dresden and Hiroshima, and on an inward journey which brings him ever closer to some kind of peace.
Kids books about grief and loss.
Explaining what death and loss are to kids is a difficult conversation nobody wants to do, but circumstances often force them to do so. Luckily there are plenty of resources out there that can help you navigate this tricky conversation, including these incredible books that have been recommended by experts and counsellors.
When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death - Laurie Krasny Brown & Marc Brown
This book turns the topic of death into something easier for kids to understand. This easy to read guide helps remove the mystery and negative connotations associated with death, providing answers to kids' most asked questions.
The Invisible String - Patrice Karst & Joanne Lew-Vriethoff
Another great book about death and loss, this is the story of a mother telling her kids that they are connected to the people they love by an invisible string, even if they are no longer with us.
Reading books about death can help us through our grief.
If you’re needing more escapism from your grief and feelings, feel free to indulge in your favourite genres of books that’ll entertain and make you feel good. But don’t do this for too long, as ignoring our feelings means they’re likely to come to the surface with the absolute worst timing.
Reading books about death, loss and grief can help us work through our own grief and feel less alone. Healing is a long, slow journey and the grief never really leaves us, but we do learn to live on, and maybe some of these books can help you through that.
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