The Comfort Of Words: A Reading List For Loss And Grief

September 27, 2016 by Miller Funeral & Cremation Services Staff  


As the weather outside becomes colder and the nights longer, some people find reading to be a sensible distraction, an opportunity for learning, and an avenue of connection – particularly when the author’s experience mirrors one’s own.


When working through a major loss, books can provide that shared experience, the validation of feelings, struggles, and thoughts common to the grieving process. Well-written books have the power to provide keen insights or simply act as a caring “aha” when you think you must be the only one feeling this way.


Books also provide some pragmatic suggestions or tools for recovering from loss. Daily meditations or reflections, for example, might be just the right amount of quality reading for some, while others may prefer to read weighty religious or spiritual books, from the bible or Koran to new age or metaphysical nonfiction.


Ten Books For Healing From Grief And Loss

Here are some recommended books on the subjects of grief and loss from your friends at Miller Funeral Home/ The Cremation Society of Texas – including both nonfiction and fiction titles.

  1. Healing Through the Dark Emotions: The Wisdom of Grief, Fear, and Despair by Miriam Greenspan – This illuminating book challenges the notion that “negative” emotions are detrimental. Greenspan points out that these feelings are universal and touch every one of us at some point. Rather than focusing on the harm of grief and despair, we are challenged to find the resiliency and wisdom within.
  2. The Other Side of Sadness by Dr. George Bonanno – Discounting the need for forcing ourselves to blindly walk through 5 phases of grief, Dr. Bonanno focuses on the innate emotions we carry throughout our lives, and their significance in forming interpersonal relationships and adapting to a life that is neither static nor predictable.
  3. Final Payments by Mary Gordon – This moving work of fiction introduces us to 30 year old Isabell, who is mourning the loss of her father. In the process of grieving, Isabell rekindles old friendships and aspirations, and explores the places where both past and present collide.
  4. A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis – After the passing of his wife, award-winning author Lewis writes about the tragic loss and the shock of everyday living, after such a loss. Lewis honestly reflects the confusion, anger, and challenges to faith and belief we feel when we lose someone close.
  5. Poems of Mourning by Peter Washington – For poetry lovers (or those new to poetry), this is a stellar book that explores the complexities of loss through some of the world’s most celebrated and renowned poets. This collection includes poems by Emily Dickinson, Thomas Hardy, Robert Frost, and Phillip Larkin.
  6. Remembering Lives: Conversations with the Dying and the Bereaved by Lorraine Hedtke – An interesting and fresh approach to memory and loss, Hedtke encourages us not to avoid remembering or speaking of the dead, but to tell stories and celebrate the lives of those who have passed on. Remembering is about legacy, generational storytelling, and the significance of narrative in the healing process.
  7. Finding Your Way After Your Spouse Dies by Marta Felber – Full of empathetic yet sound suggestions, Felber understands from firsthand experience the devastation of losing a spouse. Her words are both honest and compassionate, and her willingness to walk with the reader through the difficult terrain of grief is deeply felt.
  8. Awakening from Grief: Finding the Way Back to Joy by John Welshons – Welshon prompts us to find the pathways that lead us back to living fully. His approach encourages us to embrace the feelings and lessons of such a major change, which could include any form of loss.
  9. What Dreams May Come by Richard Matheson – A somewhat fantastic and ethereal tale about a husband whose life is cut short by an accident. This work of fiction (made into a movie starring Robin Williams) poses the timeless question, “What happens after we die?”.
  10. Green Angel by Alice Hoffman – A classic in YA fantasy fiction, 15 year old Green suddenly finds herself alone after losing her family to a tragic event. Finding solace and home among a garden, Green begins to build a life that can include love, faith, and a sense of home.


We hope you find some of these titles comforting and thoughtful. There are an inexhaustible number of wonderful, enriching books on the themes of grief, loss, and healing. What are some of your favorites?

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