25 Best Books About Grief

Ultimate List of Books About Grief ?

The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

“The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion is a heart-wrenching memoir that delves into the aftermath of grief. After the sudden death of her husband, author John Gregory Dunne, Didion recounts her experience of navigating through the first year of mourning. 

She reflects on the complexities of grief, memory, and the irrational hope that her husband might somehow return. Didion’s writing captures the rollercoaster of emotions and the coping mechanisms people adopt when faced with loss. 

Through her introspection, she grapples with the concept of time and the way we cope with the inexplicable. The book offers an intimate portrayal of grief’s impact on the human psyche and the intricate process of coming to terms with loss.

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

“Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy” by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant is a transformative exploration of how to navigate life’s most challenging moments. Co-authored by Facebook’s COO, Sheryl Sandberg, and psychologist Adam Grant, the book emerges from Sandberg’s personal journey through the sudden loss of her husband. The authors offer practical and emotional insights into overcoming adversity and building resilience.

The book delves into the universal experiences of grief and adversity, acknowledging that life can take unexpected turns. Drawing from Sandberg’s own story, the authors illustrate the process of finding “Option B” when faced with unanticipated loss or setbacks. They discuss the psychological impact of trauma, the importance of support systems, and the strategies that individuals and communities can adopt to regain a sense of normalcy and happiness.

A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

“A Grief Observed” by C.S. Lewis is a poignant and deeply introspective exploration of the author’s own journey through grief after the loss of his wife, Joy Davidman. The book is a collection of Lewis’s raw and unfiltered reflections as he grapples with the intense emotions and questions that arise in the wake of loss.

Through a series of journal entries, Lewis wrestles with the complexities of grief, faith, and theodicy—the question of why a loving God allows suffering. He lays bare his inner turmoil, examining his feelings of anger, confusion, and spiritual doubt. The book’s honesty is both vulnerable and powerful, providing readers with an intimate glimpse into the raw experience of grief.

As the narrative progresses, “A Grief Observed” evolves from a place of darkness to a nuanced exploration of the human condition. Lewis’s introspective journey leads him to confront the limitations of human understanding and the mystery of faith. The book serves as a testament to the universal nature of grief and the capacity for healing, even in the face of profound loss.

When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

Prepare to be exhumed with sadness.

“When Breath Becomes Air” by Paul Kalanithi is a moving and contemplative memoir that traces the author’s journey from being a promising neurosurgeon to facing his own mortality after being diagnosed with terminal lung cancer. Kalanithi’s eloquent prose invites readers to grapple with profound questions about life, purpose, and what it means to confront one’s own mortality.

The book explores Kalanithi’s transition from a doctor who saves lives to a patient facing a life-threatening illness. With honesty and vulnerability, he shares his thoughts on the fragility of life and the intersection of science, philosophy, and spirituality. Kalanithi’s introspective reflections highlight the significance of the human experience and the pursuit of meaning, even in the face of imminent death.

“When Breath Becomes Air” is a poignant reminder of the impermanence of existence, urging readers to embrace life’s precious moments and reflect on their own purpose. Kalanithi’s memoir is a testament to the power of storytelling to inspire contemplation, empathy, and a deeper connection to the shared human experience.


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The Lovely Bones by Alice Sebold

“The Lovely Bones” by Alice Sebold is a haunting and evocative novel that navigates the aftermath of a young girl’s tragic murder. Told from the perspective of the victim, Susie Salmon, who watches over her family and community from her place in the afterlife, the novel delves into themes of grief, loss, and healing.

The story follows Susie as she observes the impact of her death on her loved ones. As her family struggles to cope with their grief, Susie grapples with her own longing for connection and justice. Through her observations, the novel explores the ways in which tragedy can fracture relationships and create both distance and unity among the living.

“The Lovely Bones” is a blend of mystery, family drama, and supernatural elements, with Sebold’s lyrical prose weaving together the realms of the living and the dead. The book reflects on the resilience of the human spirit in the face of tragedy and the power of memory and love to transcend even the most devastating of losses.

Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

“Wave” by Sonali Deraniyagala is a profoundly moving and harrowing memoir that recounts the author’s experience of surviving the 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami, which claimed the lives of her family members. The book offers a deeply personal and emotional exploration of grief, loss, and the process of rebuilding a shattered life.

Deraniyagala’s writing is a raw and unfiltered expression of her pain and trauma. She vividly portrays the shock, disbelief, and devastation that followed the tragedy. The memoir takes readers through her journey of grappling with survivor’s guilt, mourning her loved ones, and coming to terms with an irrevocably altered reality.

“Wave” is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity to endure unthinkable loss. Deraniyagala’s narrative paints a portrait of a woman shattered by tragedy but gradually piecing together fragments of her life as she finds ways to honor the memory of her family. The book is a profound meditation on the impermanence of life and the strength that can emerge from the depths of sorrow.

The Death of Ivan Ilyich by Leo Tolstoy

“The Death of Ivan Ilyich” by Leo Tolstoy is a thought-provoking novella that delves into the existential questions surrounding life, death, and the nature of human existence. The story follows the life of Ivan Ilyich Golovin, a high-ranking judge who leads a seemingly successful and conventional life. However, when he falls seriously ill, his perspective on life undergoes a profound transformation.

Tolstoy uses Ivan’s journey from health to illness and eventual death to explore the emptiness and superficiality of a life lived solely for societal approval. As Ivan confronts the inevitability of his mortality, he grapples with feelings of regret, alienation, and the realization that his life has lacked true meaning.

“The Death of Ivan Ilyich” is a philosophical meditation on the human condition and the pursuit of authenticity in the face of mortality. Tolstoy’s narrative prompts readers to reflect on their own lives, values, and the choices they make. The novella serves as a timeless exploration of the inner turmoil that can arise when one confronts the prospect of death and contemplates the legacy they leave behind.

Grief Is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter

“Grief Is the Thing with Feathers” by Max Porter is a unique and poetic novella that captures the profound experience of grief through a blend of prose and verse. The story revolves around a father and his two young sons who are grappling with the sudden loss of their wife and mother. Their lives are disrupted by the arrival of a mysterious and anthropomorphic crow, which becomes a symbol of grief itself.

The novella weaves together the perspectives of the father, the sons, and the crow as they navigate their grief in their own distinct ways. Max Porter’s writing is experimental and imaginative, utilizing language and form to evoke the complexities of loss and mourning.

“Grief Is the Thing with Feathers” delves into themes of sorrow, healing, and the ways in which humans cope with the void left by death. The crow’s presence is both unsettling and comforting, reflecting the unpredictability of grief and the journey towards acceptance. The novella is a moving and thought-provoking exploration of how grief can shape and transform our lives.

We Are Okay by Nina LaCour

“We Are Okay” by Nina LaCour is a poignant and introspective novel that follows the life of Marin, a college student who has cut ties with her past and secluded herself in an empty dorm room over winter break. The story unfolds through flashbacks, gradually revealing the reasons behind Marin’s emotional withdrawal and isolation.

The novel explores themes of grief, loss, and the intricate relationships between friends and family. As Marin confronts her painful past, she navigates the complexities of grief and the emotional turmoil that comes with it. The narrative delves into the different ways people cope with loss, and how healing can come through understanding, forgiveness, and connection.

“We Are Okay” is a beautifully written and atmospheric story that captures the essence of sorrow and the gradual process of finding solace. Nina LaCour’s prose is introspective and emotionally resonant, offering readers a journey of empathy and self-discovery. The novel is a reminder that, even in the darkest moments of grief, there is the potential for hope, healing, and rebuilding connections.

“Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler

“Everything Happens for a Reason: And Other Lies I’ve Loved” by Kate Bowler is a deeply personal memoir that chronicles the author’s journey after being diagnosed with stage IV colon cancer at a young age. Drawing from her background as a historian of religion, Bowler delves into the intersections of faith, suffering, and the human search for meaning.

The book challenges the well-intentioned but often oversimplified clichés people offer in the face of adversity, such as “everything happens for a reason.” Bowler candidly shares her struggles with mortality, the complexities of faith, and the profound impact of her diagnosis on her relationships and sense of self.

Through her narrative, “Everything Happens for a Reason” offers a glimpse into the human experience of grappling with mortality and the uncertainty of life. Bowler’s writing is reflective and thought-provoking, inviting readers to contemplate the nature of suffering, hope, and the search for meaning in the midst of life’s most challenging moments. The memoir is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the power of vulnerability to forge connections and understanding.

“The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing” edited by Kevin Young

“The Art of Losing: Poems of Grief and Healing” edited by Kevin Young is a rich and diverse anthology that explores the theme of grief through the artistry of poetry. This collection brings together a range of voices and perspectives, offering a mosaic of emotions, experiences, and reflections on loss and healing.

The anthology features poems from renowned poets as well as lesser-known voices, creating a tapestry of language that captures the complexities of grief in all its forms. The poems address various aspects of loss, from the death of loved ones to the unraveling of relationships and the pain of letting go.

Through the power of language and imagery, “The Art of Losing” navigates the terrain of grief with honesty and sensitivity. The poems provide solace, catharsis, and connection to readers who are experiencing their own journeys of loss. Kevin Young’s curation honors the role of poetry in expressing the inexpressible and offering a space for healing and understanding in the face of life’s most difficult moments.

“The Widower’s Notebook: A Memoir” by Jonathan Santlofer

“The Widower’s Notebook: A Memoir” by Jonathan Santlofer is a deeply personal and introspective account of the author’s experience following the sudden and unexpected death of his wife, Joy. The memoir chronicles Santlofer’s journey through grief, navigating the complex emotions, challenges, and moments of reflection that accompany the loss of a loved one.

Santlofer’s writing is raw and unflinchingly honest as he captures the intense emotions that come with widowhood. The book explores the impact of grief on various aspects of his life, including his work as an artist, his relationships with family and friends, and his efforts to find a new sense of normalcy.

“The Widower’s Notebook” is a tribute to both the author’s late wife and the process of healing. Santlofer’s narrative reflects the duality of grief—its pain and its potential for growth. Through his journey, he sheds light on the resilience of the human spirit and the power of storytelling as a means of understanding, acceptance, and transformation in the face of loss.

“It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too)” by Nora McInerny

“It’s Okay to Laugh (Crying Is Cool Too)” by Nora McInerny is a candid and humorous memoir that explores the author’s experiences with loss, grief, and navigating the complexities of life’s challenges. Drawing from her personal journey, McInerny shares her story of losing her husband, father, and unborn child in quick succession.

The book is a blend of grief and humor, capturing the author’s unique ability to find lightness in the midst of darkness. McInerny’s writing is relatable and conversational, as she reflects on the messiness of grief and the unexpected moments of laughter that can arise even in the face of tragedy.

Through her narrative, “It’s Okay to Laugh” offers a refreshing perspective on loss and the human capacity to find resilience and joy amidst heartbreak. McInerny’s storytelling is a testament to the power of humor and vulnerability as tools for coping, healing, and connecting with others who are navigating their own journeys of grief and loss.

“The Unspeakable Loss: How Do You Live After a Child Dies?” by Nisha Zenoff

“The Unspeakable Loss: How Do You Live After a Child Dies?” by Nisha Zenoff is a compassionate and empathetic exploration of the profound grief experienced by parents who have lost a child. Drawing from her own personal experience of losing her son, Zenoff offers a heartfelt and relatable perspective on navigating the aftermath of such a devastating loss.

The book delves into the many facets of grief that parents face after the death of a child, including the emotional, physical, and spiritual dimensions of their journey. Zenoff provides insight into the unique challenges and complexities that come with this type of loss, as well as the ways in which parents can find support and healing.

Through personal anecdotes, reflections, and interviews with other bereaved parents, “The Unspeakable Loss” offers a space for readers to connect with their own grief and find solace in knowing they are not alone in their experiences. Zenoff’s compassionate and gentle approach encourages parents to honor their child’s memory while also finding ways to navigate the path forward with grace and resilience.

“The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying” by Nina Riggs

“The Bright Hour: A Memoir of Living and Dying” by Nina Riggs is a profoundly moving and introspective memoir that chronicles the author’s journey through terminal cancer. Riggs writes with candor and wit about her experiences as she faces her own mortality, reflecting on life, love, and the delicate balance between joy and sorrow.

The memoir explores the intersection of Riggs’ roles as a mother, wife, daughter, and writer as she navigates the challenges of terminal illness. Riggs’ lyrical prose captures the beauty of the ordinary moments that become even more poignant in the face of impending loss.

“The Bright Hour” is a celebration of life and a meditation on what it means to truly live, even when confronted with death. Riggs’ resilience, humor, and wisdom shine through her narrative, reminding readers of the fragility and preciousness of existence. The memoir serves as an intimate and life-affirming testament to the power of love, family, and the human spirit.

“Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss” by Hope Edelman

“Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss” by Hope Edelman is a compassionate and insightful exploration of the emotional and psychological impact that losing a mother at a young age can have on women. Drawing from both personal experience and interviews with numerous women who have experienced maternal loss, Edelman delves into the complex and often unspoken aspects of grief and identity.

The book delves into the unique challenges that motherless daughters face, from navigating relationships to forming their own identities and sense of self. Edelman examines how the loss of a mother can reverberate throughout a woman’s life, influencing her relationships, career choices, and overall sense of well-being.

Through sharing the stories of women who have experienced maternal loss, “Motherless Daughters” offers a sense of validation and understanding to those who share this unique bond of grief. Edelman’s empathetic writing encourages readers to explore their own emotions and provides a space for healing and connecting with others who have traveled a similar path. The book serves as both a support system and a source of empowerment for women who are navigating the legacy of maternal loss.

“After This: When Life Is Over, Where Do We Go?” by Claire Bidwell Smith

“After This: When Life Is Over, Where Do We Go?” by Claire Bidwell Smith is a thought-provoking and introspective exploration of the mysteries surrounding death, the afterlife, and the nature of existence. The author, a grief therapist, draws from her own experiences with loss as well as her work with clients to examine the ways in which people grapple with the concept of mortality.

The book delves into the various ways in which individuals seek meaning and connection beyond death, whether through religious beliefs, spiritual experiences, or personal reflections. Claire Bidwell Smith’s writing is a blend of memoir, philosophy, and contemplation, inviting readers to engage with questions that transcend the boundaries of life and death.

“After This” offers a space for readers to explore their own beliefs and fears about what comes after life. Smith’s compassionate and open-minded approach encourages reflection on the ways in which death shapes our perspectives and inspires us to seek understanding in the face of the unknown. The book serves as a thought-provoking journey that invites readers to contemplate the profound questions that have puzzled humanity for generations.

“Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss” by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen

“Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss” by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen is a unique and comforting book that uses the metaphor of making soup to illustrate the process of grieving and healing after a loss. The authors provide a gentle and accessible way to understand and navigate the complex emotions that come with grief.

The book follows a woman who has experienced a significant loss as she creates tear soup—a symbolic representation of her grief. As she adds various ingredients to the pot, each ingredient represents an aspect of grief, such as memories, feelings, and support. Through the process of making and sharing the soup, she learns to acknowledge and embrace her grief while finding a sense of healing and connection.

“Tear Soup” is a beautifully illustrated and empathetic resource that provides validation and comfort to those who are mourning a loss. The metaphor of tear soup serves as a guide for processing grief in a healthy and compassionate way. The book acknowledges the individuality of the grieving process while emphasizing the importance of community and support in the journey toward healing.

“Good Grief: Heal Your Soul, Honor Your Loved Ones, and Learn to Live Again” by Theresa Caputo

“Good Grief: Heal Your Soul, Honor Your Loved Ones, and Learn to Live Again” by Theresa Caputo is a compassionate and practical guide to navigating the complex emotions and challenges that come with grief. Written by renowned medium Theresa Caputo, the book offers insight and advice on how to heal and find connection with loved ones who have passed away.

The book explores the author’s own experiences with connecting people to their departed loved ones, providing comfort and validation to those seeking closure and reassurance. Caputo addresses common misconceptions about death and the afterlife, sharing her belief in the continuing bonds that can exist between the living and the deceased.

“Good Grief” emphasizes the importance of acknowledging and expressing grief in healthy ways while also embracing the idea that our loved ones continue to watch over us. Caputo offers practical exercises, personal stories, and spiritual insights to help readers find healing and peace while honoring the memories of those they have lost. The book serves as a source of comfort and guidance for individuals seeking to navigate the journey of grief with hope and understanding.

“An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination” by Elizabeth McCracken

“An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination” by Elizabeth McCracken is a profoundly moving and honest memoir that explores the author’s experience of pregnancy and the subsequent loss of her first child. McCracken writes with raw emotion and vulnerability as she reflects on the joy, anticipation, and heartbreak that accompanied this deeply personal journey.

The memoir delves into the complexities of grief, as McCracken navigates the overwhelming sorrow of losing a child she had already come to know and love. Her narrative is a blend of introspection, memories, and moments of humor, painting a vivid portrait of the range of emotions she experienced.

Through her storytelling, McCracken offers a poignant meditation on the paradox of life and death, and the ways in which loss can shape one’s perspective. “An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination” is a tribute to the son she lost and a testament to the resilience of the human spirit. McCracken’s writing captures the intricacies of love and loss, and how the profound impact of grief can be transformed into a narrative of hope and healing.

“On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss” by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler

“On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss” by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler is a comprehensive and compassionate exploration of the stages of grief. Building upon Kübler-Ross’s groundbreaking work on the stages of grief, this book offers a deeper understanding of the emotional journey individuals go through after loss.

The authors discuss the five stages—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—and delve into the nuances and complexities of each stage. They emphasize that these stages are not linear and can be experienced in various ways. Additionally, they introduce the concept of finding meaning in grief, exploring how individuals can ultimately integrate their losses into their lives in a meaningful way.

“On Grief and Grieving” combines Kübler-Ross’s expertise as a psychiatrist and Kessler’s experience as a grief specialist to provide readers with practical insights, personal anecdotes, and coping strategies. The book encourages readers to honor their unique grieving processes while finding ways to navigate the emotional landscape of loss. Through their collaborative work, Kübler-Ross and Kessler offer a valuable resource for those seeking to understand and navigate the complexities of grief.

“The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe

“The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe is a heartwarming and introspective memoir that revolves around the unique bond between a mother and son as they navigate her terminal illness. The book explores the power of literature and the ways in which books can facilitate connections, conversations, and reflections on life, death, and everything in between.

The memoir follows Schwalbe and his mother, Mary Anne, as they form an impromptu book club during her cancer treatments. Through the books they choose to read and discuss, the two engage in meaningful conversations about love, family, faith, and the human experience.

“The End of Your Life Book Club” beautifully captures the transformative nature of literature and its ability to provide solace and insight in the face of mortality. Schwalbe’s writing is heartfelt and evocative, illustrating the profound impact of shared reading on the mother-son relationship. The book serves as a reminder of the enduring power of storytelling to create connections, inspire conversations, and illuminate the path through life’s most challenging moments.

“The Long Goodbye: A Memoir” by Meghan O’Rourke

“The Long Goodbye: A Memoir” by Meghan O’Rourke is a deeply personal and intimate exploration of grief following the death of the author’s mother. Through her lyrical and introspective writing, O’Rourke delves into the complex emotions, memories, and challenges that accompany the process of mourning.

The memoir chronicles the journey of O’Rourke as she grapples with her mother’s illness, death, and the subsequent aftermath of loss. The author navigates her grief with honesty and vulnerability, reflecting on the impact of her mother’s absence on her sense of self, her relationships, and her understanding of mortality.

“The Long Goodbye” is a testament to the enduring bond between parent and child, and the profound impact that loss can have on one’s life. O’Rourke’s narrative captures the universal nature of grief while also offering a deeply personal perspective. The book is a tribute to love, memory, and the power of writing to convey the complexities of the human experience during times of profound loss.

“The Rules of Inheritance” by Claire Bidwell Smith

“The Rules of Inheritance” by Claire Bidwell Smith is a powerful and intimate memoir that traces the author’s journey through loss and grief as she navigates the deaths of both of her parents during her adolescence and early adulthood. The book chronicles her emotional odyssey through the stages of grief, self-discovery, and healing.

Smith’s narrative is deeply personal and candid, exploring the complexities of family dynamics, the impact of loss on identity, and the ways in which grief can shape our relationships, choices, and perceptions. As she grapples with the death of her parents, she also confronts her own mortality and the fragility of life.

“The Rules of Inheritance” is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit and the capacity to find strength and growth in the midst of adversity. Smith’s writing is both evocative and reflective, inviting readers to accompany her on a journey of self-discovery and transformation. The memoir captures the universal experience of loss while also offering a unique perspective on the ways in which grief can become a catalyst for finding meaning and purpose in the midst of life’s challenges.

“The Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping with Grief and Change After the Death of Our Parents” by Alexander Levy

“The Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping with Grief and Change After the Death of Our Parents” by Alexander Levy is a compassionate and insightful guide that addresses the unique challenges faced by adults who have lost their parents. The book delves into the emotional complexities, identity shifts, and practical considerations that arise when one becomes an “orphaned adult.”

Levy’s writing offers a blend of psychological insight and practical advice, drawing from his own experiences as well as his work as a psychotherapist specializing in grief and loss. He explores how the death of parents can impact an individual’s sense of self, relationships, and overall well-being.

“The Orphaned Adult” provides readers with a roadmap for navigating the grieving process, managing the practical and emotional aspects of loss, and finding ways to honor their parents’ legacies. The book serves as a supportive resource for adults who are grappling with the challenges of bereavement while also providing validation and understanding for the complex emotions that arise when facing the death of one’s parents.

What is the book about helping someone grieve?

The book about helping someone grieve offers guidance and support for individuals who are navigating the complex process of grieving. It provides practical advice, emotional insights, and coping strategies for friends, family members, and caregivers to effectively assist those who are mourning the loss of a loved one. The book aims to foster understanding, empathy, and open communication, helping readers offer comfort and solace to the grieving individual while respecting their unique journey of healing.