15 Books to Help Guide You Through Grief
There's no need to sugarcoat it — 2020 has been a really tough year, and it seems like everyone has experienced grief or loss in some way. From the pain of losing loved ones tomissing out on major milestones and the heartbreak of broken promises due to the unpredictable nature of life right now, there's a lot of people who are hurting. Turning to books that can make you feel, cry, and process your own grief through the stories of others is a tried-and-true healthy coping mechanism.
Everyone processes loss and grieves in their own time and in their own way, but if cozying up with a book for comfort sounds like the right fit for you, keep reading for stories, guides, and inspiring reads that will help you get through these difficult periods.
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
In A Grief Observed, C.S. Lewis speaks with candor, expressing the full range of emotions that came along after his wife's passing. For those of us that know how present and important anger and rage can be in grief, this brief read is sure to resonate.
The Art of Racing in the Rain by Garth Stein
See life through the eyes of Enzo the dog in The Art of Racing in the Rain. This beautiful-yet-heartbreaking story offers hope to those mending broken hearts and gives readers a reminder of how powerful a great love is.
Tuesdays With Morrie by Mitch Albom
Tuesdays With Morrie tells the story of author, Mitch Albom, and his rekindling with Morrie, a wise old professor who mentored him during his time in college. It's a great read full of life and joy that follows Morrie as his battle with ALS comes to an end.
Finding Meaning by David Kessler
Finding Meaning introduces the sixth stage of grief. The five stages of grief — denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance — are well known, but the addition of meaning adds a bit of closure to the process. This book has chapters for many different types of loss as well, which is a great help for those looking for something curated to their experience.
The Great Alone by Kristin Hannah
The Great Alone is a fantastic story that follows a young girl as her family sets off to find a home in the remote wilderness of Alaska. Complete with a troubled home life, complicated loss, and enduring love, Kristin Hannah tells a wonderful story that will offer hope for readers overcoming loss.
No Death No Fear by Thich Nhat Hanh
No Death No Fear is written by Thich Nhat Hanh, a Vietnamese Buddhist monk. Within the pages he speaks about dealing with the death of his mother, offers guided meditations, and confronts the reader about their feelings and beliefs surrounding death.
The Fault in Our Stars by John Green
The Fault in Our Stars is a young-adult reader's staple at this point. The story of two teenagers battling cancer and the love that blooms between them is well known, but reading this in the midst of personal grief feels so much more intense, relatable, and painful. It's read for those who find comfort in tearjerking stories.
Still Alice by Lisa Genova
Still Alice follows the main character as her mind begins to deteriorate as a result of early-onset Alzheimer's. Alice's personal grief is relatable for anyone who has had to grieve for the loss of part of themselves.
Final Gifts by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley
Those who have recently lost a loved one will find Final Gifts comforting and moving. Authors Callanan and Kelley have filled this book with so much wisdom from their years of experience as hospice nurses. These women have a profound understanding of death through providing end-of-life care, and this book has some of the answers you might be seeking.
A Dog's Purpose by W. Bruce Cameron
Sometimes, it seems as if dogs have life all figured out. They know how to love without fear of loss, how to forgive and forget, and how to make the most of every moment. A Dog's Purpose is an emotional read about life, death, love, and rebirth.
Untamed by Glennon Doyle
Untamed is a refreshing read about living truly and fully. Doyle's vulnerability, humor, and encouraging words would be helpful for anyone at any stage of life, but I think that readers who are currently coping with a major or sudden life change will find hope in this book.
The Water Dancer by Ta-Nehisi Coates
Hiram is no stranger to loss as a slave in Virginia during the 1860s. The Water Dancer tells the story of Hiram and his bravery after a near-drowning motivates him to make his life his own. This book is a powerful reminder that loss does not define us, and nothing can hold us back from seeking the freedom we know we deserve.
Salt in My Soul by Mallory Smith
Salt in My Soul is comprised of inspiring journal entries from Smith herself, who was diagnosed with cystic fibrosis at a young age. Her positivity and passion for life is present throughout the book, even in the face of uncertainty and pain as her condition progresses. Those grieving the loss of a loved one with a similar story will find peace in this read.
Furiously Happy by Jenny Lawson
My neighbor purchased Furiously Happy for me years ago when I was going through a particularly rough point in my life, and it's a book I still cherish. As it says on the cover, it truly is a funny book about horrible things, and it will allow you to laugh, cry, and feel understood all at once.
Life of Pi by Yann Martel
The enchanting read that is Life of Pi helps readers believe that life can be filled with wondrous and beautiful things again, even after suffering massive loss and hardship. So much more than a book about a boy who is stranded at sea with a tiger, Martel has created a story about perseverance, spirituality, and hope in the face of life's most pressing challenges.