Queen Elizabeth II herself famously said, "grief is the price we pay for love". It’s a beautiful and true statement, but it doesn’t change the fact that grief is hard and difficult to navigate – as anyone who has experienced it knows.
Grieving the loss of a loved one is a personal journey that looks different for everyone – but we needn't do it alone. There are several tools we can use to help process and manage our grief, including self-help books – we've rounded up some of the best that we hope will help.
Sending much love to anyone coping with pain and loss after losing a loved one.
Highly-recommended grief books for all types of grief
Loss: Poems to better weather the many waves of grief by Donna Ashworth
Donna’s beautiful writing gives a glimpse of light that can be found within the darkest moments. This collection of grief poetry from the Sunday Times best-selling author will bring comfort but also peace, acceptance and the very important reminder that you are never alone.
Highly-recommended grief books on the loss of a parent as an adult
Loss of a Parent: Adult Grief When Parents Die by Theresa Jackson
Author and medical communications professional Theresa Jackson wrote this book to help bereaved adults after she struggled to come to terms with the loss of her father. She shares her and others’ personal journeys of coming to terms with the loss of a parent, helping readers to learn about the many stages of grief, understand how complicated or prolonged grief is common, and feel less alone in their grief. There are also exercises to help work through grief in a healthy way.
Top review: “I bought this book to help a friend who was dealing with the fresh death of her mother. It turned out to be really helpful. I read it first myself and It was really helpful for me as well, giving good advice on how to properly communicate with her and talk to her after her loss without making her feel uncomfortable or even sadder.
"My friend thanked me and said that reading about how other people have found themselves in a similar situation and how it is possible to be happy again after it, was really what she needed. Recommended to anyone going through something like this."
Highly-recommended for a support-group-in-a-book
Good Mourning by Sally Douglas and Imogen Carn
From the creators of the popular podcast Good Mourning, this book helps readers navigate grief and loss with warmth, humour, raw honesty and the affirmation that they are not alone. Sally Douglas and Imogen Carn met after the sudden deaths of their mothers only months apart. They shine a light on the many ways grief can impact our lives, along with expert advice from clinical psychologist Tamara Cavenett and warm words and insights from hundreds of others.
The girls shared the news of their book launch on Instagram, captioning it: "We have been bursting at the seams for so long to tell you all what we've been up to! It feels bittersweet announcing this, as the very two people we want to tell the most – our lovely mums – are the reason this book was written in the first place.
"Our book is designed to be the ultimate grief survival guide. If you love our podcast and content, then you'll love our book!
"We know how bloody hard life after loss can be, so we've taken all our insights since launching the pod, along with expert advice and the stories of fellow grievers, to create something that can offer you insights, extra support, and above all, be your trusted griefy companion.
"We've written this book for everyone, no matter if your loss was recent, or it occurred many years ago. It covers ALL elements of grief, like the awkward bits we often don't talk about with others, (aka the exhaustion, 'grief brain' and anxiety).
"Plus, it's got loads of stories from fellow grievers, because we know keeping it real is important."
Highly-recommended grief books on the loss of a spouse
Comfort for the Grieving Spouse's Heart: Hope and Healing After Losing Your Partner by Gary Roe
Gary Roe is a hospice chaplain, grief counsellor, and trusted voice who has been helping grieving hearts for more than three decades. This warm, easy-to-read, and practical book reads like a caring conversation with a friend and will become a comforting companion for those trying to come to terms with the loss of a spouse.
Top review: “I love all Gary Roe's books and he comes across as being so sincere in his writing. His books always answer those nagging things that go around in a grieving person's head that would just seem silly to others and things that you wouldn't dare voice out loud. He writes from the heart and his own experience. Love this author.”
Highly-recommended grief books for children
No matter what by Debi Gliori
This children’s storybook is a comforting and warm story which teaches children that love lives on after a loved one has gone. It addresses the fear and anxiety that arise after the loss of a parent or other family member.
Top review: “This book beautifully describes how love goes on forever - like the stars - even after we are dead. That is how I want my girls to think of me when I'm gone - with them and loving them forever.”
The GoodbyBook by Todd Parr
Told through the eyes of a pet fish who has lost his companion, this is a touching and poignant story about saying goodbye that reminds young readers that it’s OK not to know all the answers and that there will always be someone there to support them.
Top review: “This book enabled us to explain death with our five-year-old who has special needs. We tried many books as did school but they were so abstract. This is amazing. So simple but you could easily elaborate on each picture if needed. We would be lost without this story.”
Highly-recommended grief books on the loss of a child
Beyond Tears: Living after losing a child by Ellen Mitchell
Nine bereaved mothers share their individual stories of what it is like to lose a child – an unimaginable loss that no parent expects to face – and how they survived it. The honest and raw stories share with other bereaved parents what to expect in the first year and long beyond, and reassure that grieving parents will find a way to live, and even laugh again.
Top Review: “This book is the only true comfort I have found, it's like a literary hug anytime you need one, no preaching, no pressure, no false hopes, just sharing experience and understanding our pain. May I say thank you to its kind authors, all nine mums who wrote it, all having suffered the terrible loss of their precious young adult or teenage child. Read it slowly, listen to what they say, keep going.”
Highly-recommended grief books on the loss of a sibling
Healing the Adult Sibling's Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Brother or Sister Dies by Wolfeat a
There are 100 helpful ideas contained in this grief book to help aid in coming to terms with sibling loss. The author approaches grief from a place of self-acceptance and compassion, whether the sibling died young or as an older adult, and whether the death was sudden or anticipated.
Top Review: "A great source of support as a sibling's grief is too often overlooked or underestimated. Grief is a lonely road, and this book helps to feel understood and to cope.Highly recommended.”
Highly-recommended grief books on the loss of a friend
Modern Loss: Candid conversation about grief. Beginners Welcome by Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner
Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner, who bost lost parents as young adults, created website Modern Loss as a response to change the dialogue around loss and grief. In this book, they share the insights of the Modern Loss community to help readers cry, laugh, grieve, identify and above all empathise.
Top review: “The book lets us look at and listen to stories of grief honestly with all its messiness, and even with a dose of humour. I loved the artwork and especially the guide to grief speak and particularly the description of ugly crying. Out of compassion we sometimes run for the tissues when we are faced with someone who is ugly crying. Maybe we should just wait a bit, don’t be so quick to give a tissue, because when we give a tissue, the message may be stop crying.”
“This book is for all who will live our lives and experience expected and unexpected losses. It should be added to the shelf of all therapists, clergy and the rest of mortals. Thank you Gabrielle and Rebecca.”
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