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12 of the best books for dealing with grief

By Kobo • March 12, 2023Big Ideas in Books

Whatever you’re going through, we hope that a few of these books help you find comfort and strength.

Navigating loss is no easy task, and there's no one blueprint for grief. That's why there are so many books and memoirs that share the grief experience, and offer guidance for those looking for comfort or help. If you or someone you know is struggling with a loss, here are a dozen very different eBooks and audiobooks to explore that might offer solace, hope, and a bit of reassurance.

It's OK That You're Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn't Understand by Megan Devine

In this practical and straightforward guide, Devine wants to let readers know that it's okay to feel undone by grief, and that grief is not something you should be afraid of. Although our culture sometimes says otherwise, grief is a natural part of life, and Devine uses her experience as a therapist and as someone who lost a partner to help others connect with their grief in a healthy way, and learn to rebuild their lives after loss.

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Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief. Beginners Welcome. by Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner

Authors Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner both lost parents when they were young adults, and that's where they're coming from in this book aimed at navigating grief in a world of hashtags and text messages. Their aim in this book—aided by many guest contributors—is to foster healthy, honest dialogue about grief so people can feel these profound emotions together.

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Men We Reaped: A Memoir by Jesmyn Ward

Novelist Jesmyn Ward lost five young men who were close to her in the space of five years, and in her fog of grief she desperately wanted to know why this was happening. As she pushed through those dark days, she realized that the men she lost all died as a result of poverty and racism, and she began to explore all the ways that society failed them. This is a stirring memoir about living through loss, and reckoning with forces beyond your control.

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The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

While her daughter was in a drug-induced coma with a life-threatening illness, Joan Didion's husband suffered a massive heart attack and died. Weeks later, Joan's daughter pulled through, only to suffer another major health scare two months later. These events completely reshaped Joan's life, and she embarked upon a year of magical thinking that made her reconsider everything she thought she knew about relationships, life, death, and grief.

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Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief by Joanne Cacciatore

Sometimes people experiencing grief will find that their attention spans are shorter than usual, which is why this book is perfect for someone who needs to dip in and out of a book. It's composed of fifty-two short chapters that offer guidance and healing, and emphasize the possibility of connection during this most vulnerable period. Written by a Zen priest and bereavement educator, this book helps readers learn how to honor their grief and losses.

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

Co-written by the author of the groundbreaking work On Death and Dying which also introduced the five stages of grieving, this book focuses not on death, but the act of grieving and the gifts that can be found in the process. It looks at how those now-classic five stages of grief play out in our everyday lives, and the authors offer advice and reassurance to readers who are in the thick of these emotions, underscoring everything with a message of love.

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Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder

For someone who is looking for someone to relate to through humor, this is an excellent graphic memoir about the author's experience learning of her mother's cancer diagnosis as a teenager. As Tyler's mother fought her illness, Tyler also began to prepare herself for the worst case scenario. And when Tyler ultimately lost her mother, she had to navigate a new kind of grief. Full of humor, heart, and sometimes irreverent wit, this book is perfect for anyone who has lost a parent and is feeling adrift.

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The Light of the World: A Memoir by Elizabeth Alexander

Often after a great loss, we feel moved to find some meaning in the experience, something to carry forward. That's exactly how Elizabeth Alexander felt after the sudden loss of her husband as she searched her memories and committed herself to caring for her children. During a season of deep reflection and grief, she learned to be even more grateful for her family, her community, and her art.

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Recovering from the Loss of a Sibling by Katherine Fair Donnelly

Many grief guides and memoirs look closely at the death of a parent, child, or partner, but a sibling death can be equally devastating. In this book--one of the first guides for siblings suffering such a loss--Donnelly addresses the unique grief that can accompany such a loss, and offers ideas and suggestions for how to cope when siblings might not feel as supported.

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Wave by Sonali Deraniyagala

Sonali, her husband, her two children, and her parents were on vacation in Sri Lanka when they looked out their hotel room window and noticed an enormous wave barreling towards them. They ran for their lives, and in the aftermath, only Sonali survived. This memoir is about a powerful grief that comes when multiple people are lost at once, and lives are irrevocably changed in grand ways. But it's also a tribute to Sonali's family, and how she learned to move forward after such a profound tragedy.

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

Grief can feel like being lost at sea with no direction, but there is scientific research that suggests there is a predictable shape to the grieving process, and it includes emerging on the other side of sadness more resilient than we entered it. If you'd find comfort in knowing there's a normal human structure to what you're feeling, this updated edition of George A. Bonanno's book might be what you need.

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Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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