Updated 6/27/2021-These grief books have been recommended by my tribe here on Emotionally Naked– both men and women. I’ve tried to organize them as best I can.
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Some of these are very niche. For example, a book to work on how to work with grieving children living with autism. Some are daily readings that might suit people who can’t read an entire book. And more books for those who are struggling with their faith after loss.
This symbol indicates a ★Top Recommendation from emotionally naked followers. This page is linked to my Grief Resources page. I also have a book I wrote after my own son’s death, Diary of a Broken Mind: A mother’s Story, A Son’s Suicide and the Haunting Lyrics he Left Behind. But I would caution that it might not be suitable for the newly bereaved.
Free grief eBook: Coping Strategies for Grief & Loss
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Suicide Loss Grief Books
Free. Online as a pdf. I also have copies and it’s an excellent guide to answer, “What do I tell the children?” It has age-appropriate scripts and examples for children as young as three. What is appropriate to tell children and teens of any age how to explain suicide. It truly holds your hand in what to say. This is an ideal guide to take to a family who has just suffered the loss of a family member to suicide. (You can print out the pages that match the age of the children.) For a physical copy of the book, call your local chapter of AFSP, American Foundation of Suicide Prevention. Or order here.
I read this one. At first, I was not able to read a book for more than a few pages because the lines would blur and I struggled to concentrate that first year after Charles’ suicide. I wasn’t able to read any book cover to cover until a year and a half later. It was an easy read and had examples of people who had lost a sibling, a child, a husband and what it was like for them as well as practical advice for survivors of suicide loss. This includes a chapter on helping children cope with a suicide loss. Readers have described this book as a practical guide for coping with suicide, from the first few days through the first year and beyond.
★But I Didn’t Say Goodbye: Helping Families After a Suicide – April 1, 2020 third edition, by Barbara Rubel (Barbara’s article on Emotionally Naked)
This book tells the story, from the perspective of a family, an 11-year-old boy, as they are rocked by suicide and reeling from the aftermath. The reader will see the transformation of feelings after going through death by suicide. The revised edition is an evidence-informed and contemporary treatment of a devastating form of loss. It’s a very different book but absolutely beloved
Diary of a Broken Mind, by Anne Moss Rogers, is not an early grief recovery book but a later grief book, a memoir, that answers a lot of questions. The funniest, most popular kid in school, Charles Aubrey Rogers, suffered from depression and later addiction, then died by suicide. Diary of a Broken Mind focuses on the relatable story of what led to his suicide at age twenty and answers the “why” behind his addiction and this cause of death revealed through both a mother’s story and years of Charles’ published and unpublished song lyrics. The closing chapters focus on hope and healing– and how the author found her purpose and forgave herself.
Recommended by David Kyre who lost his son Daniel Kyre to suicide and a part of the Emotionally Naked tribe. Honest, gentle advice for those who have survived an unspeakable loss—the suicide of a loved one. Surviving the heartbreak of a loved one’s suicide – you don’t have to go through it alone. Authors Beverly Cobain and Jean Larch break through suicide’s silent stigma. Dying to Be Free offers gentle advice for those left behind, so that healing can begin.
In 1983, this book was groundbreaking. Iris Bolton is now in her 80s but her book is relevant still. At bottom, life and death are our greatest teachers–if we shall but listen. Iris Bolton’s personal story of her son’s suicide is a deeply moving, poignant one. It is a story of both a devastating tragedy and an exquisite triumph–and the agonizing, relentless, conflicted process connecting these two oppositional pulls. Until recently, we have chosen to keep death in the shadows and separated from the light of life. As a result, we have made ourselves more vulnerable to its pain and destruction. That this is true is well documented in this book.
After a suicide death, loved ones struggle to make sense of the unexplainable tragedy. The Gift of Second comes alongside loss survivors and helps navigate the common pitfalls for those left behind. You will learn to:
- Explore the ins and outs of grief and trauma
- Release the guilt and shame survivors carry
- Recognize how to take care of yourself
- Gain practical tips for enduring the first year
- Discover what helps other survivors
- Determine when to seek professional help
- Stop replaying the past and blaming yourself
- START healing in a healthy way
This book explores the suicidal behavior of students with gifts and talents. It provides the reader with a coherent picture of what suicidal behavior is; clarifies what is known and what is unknown; shares two major theories of suicide; and offers an emerging model of the suicidal behavior of students with gifts and talents. In addition, the book includes chapters offering insight into the lived experience of G&T students. It includes what we can do to prevent suicide among gifted students, including creating caring communities and specific counseling strategies. It also provides a list of resources.
Grief Books for Loss of a Child
Organized by a journalist and a psychotherapist, each of whom has lost a child, this book is a remarkable compilation of poetry, fiction, and essays about the pain, stages of grief, and the coping and healing process that follows the death of one’s child. While nothing can mute the pain of such a life-shattering loss, others who know this experience can help those suffering articulate the chaos of their feelings and see that they can, eventually, feel whole again.
The death of a child is an overwhelming loss. “Why did my child die?” and “Is my child suffering now?” are questions all people, of all cultures and backgrounds, ask. Western culture has limited language for expressing grief, and a consuming guilt that undermines the recovery process. Dr. Sukie Miller, author of the landmark work After Death, turns to the beliefs and healing stories of other cultures to present a unique perspective that is both surprising and comforting.
Recommended by Emotionally Naked contributor, Lloyd Braswell, who lost a special needs child and later lost a son to suicide. The book is ten chapters, each written by a bereaved parent. When a Child Dies gives help and encouragement based on the reality of God’s love and covenant with God’s children. Written from the heart by parents who know firsthand the pain that follows the loss of a child, these intensely personal stories will help grieving parents deal with life after the child they loved so deeply suffers an untimely death.
Recommended by Emotionally Naked contributor, Lloyd Braswell, who lost a special needs child and later lost a son to suicide. John Claypool had been a pastor for almost two decades. He ministered to others when the loss came home with the death of his eight-year-old daughter. This book is the story of Claypool’s own journey through the darkness, written through four sermons. The first was delivered just eleven days after his daughter’s diagnosis of leukemia. The second one after her first major relapse nine months later, and the third, weeks after her death. The final sermon–a reflection on the process of grieving–was preached three years later.
Tomorrow Was Yesterday: Explosive First-Person Indictments of the US Mental Health System— Mothers Across the Nation Tell It Like It Is by Dede Ranahan
This book includes a story about an Emotionally Naked tribe member’s loss. Nautilus Book Awards 2020 Silver Medalist winner. In these snapshots from on-going sagas, you’ll read about grim realities — terrible group homes, suicides, adult children killed by police, incarcerations, solitary confinement, lack of beds, family chaos, substance abuse, ineffective medications, heart-breaking HIPAA restrictions, hallucinations, homelessness, sorrow, hurt, and anger. Simultaneously, you’ll read about profound love, caregiving, gratitude, forgiveness, hope, strength, persistence, resilience, generosity, leadership, courage, pursuing dreams, understanding, and heroism.
Grief Books for loss of a sibling
★Top Recommendation. I read this when it was in manuscript form and I know how few books there are on sibling loss. Rock On focuses solely on sibling loss because it’s a tragedy author Susan E. Casey experienced in her own life. On Valentine’s Day, 2014, she learned of the horrific and unexpected death of her forty-three-year-old brother Rocky (birth name: Brian) who died while in Hong Kong with his wife and three-and-a-half-year-old daughter.
In the second half of the book, the author segues into several excerpts from the people she talked to that are relevant to the theme of each chapter. Each person she interviewed for these excerpts has a sibling who died a different way: overdose, suicide, accident, heart disease, murder, cancer and more. Susan weaves in her memories throughout each story and ends each chapter with her thoughts on the chapter’s theme to provide additional insights to help the reader on their grief journey. So this is a good self-help guide to acknowledging sibling grief, managing the pain and finding hope and meaning after sibling loss.
P. Gill White, PhD, was only fifteen when her sister Linda made her swear not to tell anyone about the pain she had in her side. She feared it would spoil an upcoming family vacation. Linda died four months later from a rare form of cancer. White and her family never talked about the loss until decades later, when memories began to haunt her.
Sibling Grief is White’s validation of the emotional significance of sibling loss. She draws on both clinical experience and her own deeply personal experience. Add to that the wisdom from hundreds of bereaved siblings, to explain the five healing tasks unique to sibling grief. White also describes the dream patterns of bereaved siblings, showing how healing is reflected in the dream state.
Throughout, she illustrates the long-lasting connection between siblings-a connection that death itself cannot sever.
Many who lose someone they love find solace in a book about the afterlife and this one has been read and loved by many emotionally naked tribe members. I didn’t personally get into this one, not because of the subject matter but because I didn’t trust the author that much, and the writing had a lot of cliches which drives me nuts. The author’s goal is able to bring the mystical into the everyday. She relates stories of people who have experienced uncanny revelations and instances of unexplained synchronicity, as well as others drawn from her own experience. There’s the lost child who appears to his mother as a deer that approaches her unhesitatingly at a highway rest stop; the name written on a dollar bill that lets a terrified wife know that her husband will be okay; the Elvis Presley song that arrives at the exact moment of Jackson’s own father’s passing; and many others.
Already Here tells of the death of Leo Galland’s son, Christopher, at age 22; the direct visual evidence Christopher showed Leo that our souls do go on; and the communications from Christopher’s spirit that dramatically changed Leo’s understanding of life and its meaning. In life, Christopher was a brain-damaged special-needs child who challenged everyone he knew with his unpredictable behavior and uncanny insights. After his death, he revealed to Leo the real purpose of his life, as a spiritual guide who taught others by confounding their assumptions and expectations. And he began to share with Leo a new perspective on everything from the nature of good and evil to the notion that the universe is, fundamentally, an act of love.
Grief Books for all kinds of loss
★Top Recommendation. This one has come recommended by many people. When a loved one dies, the pain of loss can feel unbearable—especially in the case of a traumatizing death. The process of grieving can feel wild and nonlinear—and often lasts for much longer than other people, the non-bereaved, tell us it should. Organized into fifty-two short chapters, this book serves as a companion for life’s most difficult times, revealing how grief can open our hearts to connection, compassion, and the essence of shared humanity.
★Top Recommendation. This one was recommended by several people. When the New York Times ran Patrick O’Malley’s story about the loss of his infant son—and how his inability to “move on” challenged everything he was taught as a psychotherapist—it inspired an unprecedented flood of gratitude from readers. What he shared was a truth that many have felt but rarely acknowledged by the professionals they turn to: that our grief is not a mental illness to be cured, but part of the abiding connection with the one we’ve lost. Dr. Patrick O’Malley is a psychotherapist in Fort Worth, Texas, specializing in grief counseling. He has counseled individuals, couples and families in his private practice.
Especially illuminating in its coverage of how people cope with different kinds of losses is, “Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death and Surviving,” by Julia Samuel, who works with bereaved families both in private practice and at England’s National Health Service, at St. Mary’s hospital, Paddington.
Yoga for Grief and Loss: Poses, Meditation, Devotion, Self-Reflection, Selfless Acts, Ritual by Karla Helbert
A local Richmond, Virginia author who has a national reach on the subject of grief and loss writes about how you can use a healthy coping strategy, yoga, to heal after loss. Just as grief is an experience that affects us physically, mentally, emotionally, cognitively, and spiritually, yoga sustains and strengthens us in all of those same areas. This book demonstrates how the principles and practices of yoga can help relieve symptoms of grief allowing those who have experienced loss to move toward wholeness, peace, and feelings of connection with loved ones who have died.
It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine
Book recommended by Gray Maher, a contributor here on Emotionally Naked. Why does our culture treat grief like a disease to be cured as quickly as possible? In this book, Megan Devine offers a profound new approach to both the experience of grief and the way we try to help others who have endured tragedy. Having experienced grief from both sides—as both a therapist and as a woman who witnessed the accidental drowning of her beloved partner—Megan writes with deep insight about the unspoken truths of loss, love, and healing. Podcasts.
Finding Your Own Way to Grieve: A Creative Activity Workbook for Kids and Teens on the Autism Spectrum by Karla Helbert
Children and teens with autism can struggle to cope with the loss of a loved one, and the complicated and painful emotions of bereavement. This book explains death in concrete terms that the child with autism will understand, explores feelings that the child may encounter as a part of bereavement, and offers creative and expressive activities that facilitate healing.
Winner of three awards this book is the story of one woman’s path through grief. For what seemed like a lifetime and probably was, the author wandered aimlessly in a personal prison of self-doubt and lack of purpose after her fifteen-year-old daughter Carly died suddenly before her eyes. By some combination of miracle and necessity, she walked into a Seattle area Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu gym. Through that experience and others that followed, Elena discovered the tenets of the martial art form and healing were the same. Ripping, raw honesty and refreshing balance of humor and introspection.
Written in 1994, this is the classic guide for dealing with grief and loss. It has chronological entries with dates of the year to work through that journey starting your day with thoughtful words to strengthen, inspire and comfort. That way, you don’t have to take in multiple pages but just one entry at a time.
If you are struggling with your faith after loss, this one is for you. This is a classic I read in 1987, the year after my friend Kathryn Ray Ashford died from cancer.It is a #1 bestselling inspirational classic and source of solace and hope for over 4 million readers.When Harold Kushner’s three-year-old son was diagnosed with a degenerative disease that meant the boy would only live until his early teens, he was faced with one of life’s most difficult questions: Why, God? Years later, Rabbi Kushner wrote this straightforward, elegant contemplation of the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes.
#1 New York Times Best Seller and named a Best Book of 2017 by Barnes & Noble and Amazon. From Facebook’s COO offers a powerful, inspiring, and practical book about building resilience and moving forward after the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity.
Classic. A collection of truly comforting, down-to-earth thoughts and meditations — including the authentic voices of survivors — for anyone grieving the loss of a loved one.