Books on Grief: Recommended Reading for Understanding and Coping

Losing a loved one is an unimaginable pain of loss, and coping with grief can be one of life's most challenging experiences.
By illume Editorial Team
Last updated: Jul 19, 2023
10 min read
Books on Grief: Recommended Reading for Understanding and Coping

When faced with the heartache of grief, finding solace in the written word can be a healing and transformative journey. In this blog, we’ll share a handpicked selection of powerful books on grief that offer support, understanding, and guidance through the difficult process of bereavement. These recommended reads, written by renowned authors and grief counsellors, aim to help you navigate the stages of grief and find hope in the darkest times. We hope these books will provide comfort and help you learn to cope with grief while understanding that you are not alone on this path.

1. “It’s OK That You’re Not OK” by Megan Devine

Grief expert Megan Devine offers a compassionate and realistic perspective on grief and mental health. This insightful book delves into the pain of loss and provides practical ways to cope with grief. Devine’s warm tone and empathetic approach make it a comforting companion for those dealing with the loss of a loved one. “It’s OK That You’re Not OK” validates the feelings of grief, reminding readers that it’s natural to experience denial, anger, bargaining, and other stages of grief.

2. “Bearing the Unbearable” by Joanne Cacciatore

Drawing on her personal experience of losing a child, grief counsellor Joanne Cacciatore shares profound insights into the journey of grief and loss. “Bearing the Unbearable” embraces the raw emotions of grief and offers guidance on how to stay alive and find meaning after the death of a loved one. Through this book, Cacciatore gently helps readers navigate through the overwhelming pain, providing essential tools to heal and grow through the grieving process.

3. “The Year of Magical Thinking” by Joan Didion

In this powerful memoir, acclaimed writer Joan Didion poignantly reflects on her own grief journey after the sudden loss of her husband. “The Year of Magical Thinking” candidly explores the human experience of dealing with grief, highlighting the complexity of emotions that accompany loss. This beautifully written book on grief and loss reminds us that grief is a unique process for everyone and that it’s okay to experience conflicting emotions.

4. “Living When Someone You Love Dies” by Earl A. Grollman

Renowned grief counsellor Earl A. Grollman offers compassionate wisdom in “Living When Someone You Love Dies.” Through short chapters, Grollman addresses various aspects of grief and provides practical advice for coping with its challenges. This book gently guides readers through the grief and healing process, offering comfort and hope along the way.


5. “You Can Heal Your Heart” by Louise Hay and David Kessler

Louise Hay and David Kessler’s collaborative effort, “You Can Heal Your Heart,” focuses on healing after the loss of a loved one. This compassionate book addresses the pain of grief while providing tools to deal with grief constructively. It emphasises the power of self-compassion and finding ways to honour the memory of the departed.

6. “Grief Works: Stories of Life, Death, and Surviving” by Julia Samuel

In “Grief Works,” grief psychotherapist Julia Samuel shares powerful stories of her clients’ experiences with loss and the process of healing. Through these poignant narratives, Samuel explores the unique ways individuals cope with grief and provides valuable insights for anyone facing the pain of loss. Her compassionate approach and extensive expertise in grief counselling make this book an essential read for those seeking solace and understanding.

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

While not solely a book on grief, “Option B” by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant is a profound exploration of resilience after facing hardship and loss. In this deeply personal account, Sheryl Sandberg, the COO of Facebook, shares her journey of navigating grief after her husband’s sudden death. The book provides valuable lessons on finding strength and joy in the face of adversity, offering hope and inspiration to those dealing with grief.

8. “The Wild Edge of Sorrow” by Francis Weller

Francis Weller’s “The Wild Edge of Sorrow” invites readers to embrace grief as a natural response to loss and a gateway to profound healing. Drawing on mythology, psychology, and personal experiences, Weller explores how grief can deepen our connections to ourselves, others, and the world. This transformative book encourages readers to honour their pain and harness its transformative power to find meaning and purpose in life.

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

“Tear Soup” is a gentle and beautifully illustrated book that metaphorically presents grief as making a pot of tear soup. Authored by grief counsellors Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen, this heartwarming story provides a comforting and accessible way for both children and adults to understand and cope with grief. Through the process of making tear soup, readers learn valuable lessons about healing, self-compassion, and resilience.

10. “The Grief Recovery Handbook” by John W. James and Russell Friedman

“The Grief Recovery Handbook” is a practical guide that helps readers deal with grief and emotional pain caused by various life losses. John W. James and Russell Friedman, founders of the Grief Recovery Institute, present a step-by-step approach to healing emotional wounds and finding closure. This book encourages readers to address unresolved grief, providing tools and exercises to work through their feelings and find a path towards healing.

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

In “The Long Goodbye,” Meghan O’Rourke bravely shares her personal experience of losing her mother to cancer. This raw and eloquent memoir delves into the complex emotions of grief and explores the deep bond between a mother and daughter. O’Rourke’s candid reflections on her journey through grief offer readers a glimpse into the universality of loss and the transformative power of love.

12. “Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief” by Martha Whitmore Hickman

“Healing After Loss” is a comforting daily meditation guide for those navigating the difficult terrain of grief. Martha Whitmore Hickman provides gentle reflections and meditations to support individuals in their grieving process. This book helps readers find solace and strength through daily readings that touch on the many facets of grief, offering a source of hope and healing throughout the year.

13. “The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss” by George A. Bonanno

In “The Other Side of Sadness,” renowned psychologist George A. Bonanno delves into the scientific study of bereavement and explores the complexities of grieving. Drawing from years of research and interviews with those who have experienced profound loss, Bonanno challenges traditional assumptions about grief and offers a fresh perspective on resilience and coping. This insightful book sheds light on the diverse ways individuals navigate grief and provides hope for finding meaning and growth in the aftermath of loss.

14. “Grief Day by Day: Simple Practices and Daily Guidance for Living with Loss” by Jan Warner

In “Grief Day by Day,” author Jan Warner offers a compassionate and practical guide for navigating the challenging terrain of grief. This book provides daily reflections, simple practices, and gentle guidance to help individuals cope with grief in manageable increments. With a focus on self-compassion and understanding, Warner’s book emphasises the importance of taking each day as it comes while honouring the process of healing after loss.


As you navigate the challenging path of grief, these additional five books will offer further insights, support, and comfort. From personal stories of healing and resilience to practical guides for grief recovery, each of these recommended reads brings a unique perspective on coping with grief. Remember, grieving is a deeply individual experience, and there is no right or wrong way to process your emotions. Reach out to friends, family, or a grief counsellor if you need additional support, and consider exploring our grief support app “Grief Works”, where you can connect with others who share similar experiences and access valuable resources to aid you on your journey to healing. May these books on grief help you find hope, understanding, and the strength to embrace life once again. You are not alone – together, we can learn to cope with grief and find solace in the midst of pain and loss.