Adult Readers Advisory, Resources

Managing Grief: A Reading List

Literary and non-fiction titles to help with grief, loss, and other difficult life transitions.


Anne Lamott, Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope, and Repair  Written from a spiritual perspective, this book addresses healing from loss with the author’s characteristic insightfulness and gentle humor.

C.S. Lewis, A Grief Observed  Written by the theologian and novelist after the death of his wife.

Helen MacDonald, H is for Hawk   Naturalist and falconer Helen Macdonald describes her journey, after the death of her father, from crippling grief to something resembling grace. Also available as an audiobook.

Sheryl Sandberg, Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy  Co-written by the tech executive and bestselling Lean In author after the unexpected death of her husband.

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, On Grief and Grieving  From the Swiss-American psychiatrist best known for “The Five Stages of Loss”: anger, denial, bargaining, depression, and acceptance.

Jonathan Kabat-Zinn, Full Catastrophe Living  A guide to dealing with stress, pain, illness, and loss through meditation and “practiced mindfulness.”

David Wolpe, Making Loss Matter: Creating Meaning in Difficult Times  Written from a Jewish/spiritual perspective, this book explores how loss can become a source of strength, faith, and meaning rather than of despair.

Elizabeth Lesser, Broken Open: How Difficult Times Can Help Us Grow  Part guide, part memoir, from the founder of the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies.

Martha Whitmore Hickman, Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations for Working through Grief  A collection of quotes, verse, and other excerpts approaching healing from a Christian/spiritual perspective.

Daphne Rose Kingma, The Ten Things to Do When Your Life Falls Apart  Ten strategies for coping with death, divorce, job loss, and other difficult transitions at the practical, emotional, and spiritual levels.

Debra Umberson, Death of a Parent: Transition to a New Adult Identity  An academic but accessible book exploring how the death of a parent functions as a turning point in adults’ emotional, social, and personal lives.

Phyllis Rolfe Silverman, Never Too Young to Know: Death in Children’s Lives  Written by a teaching psychologist, this book explains the wide range of effects of loss upon children and the challenges they face as they grieve.

John W. James, When Children Grieve  A handbook for adults to help children deal with death, divorce, moving, and other losses.

Jon Katz, Going Home: Finding Peace When Pets Die  A thoughtful guide from the New York Times-bestselling author.

Memoir and Literature

Joan Didion, The Year of Magical Thinking  The iconic writer reflects on her experiences after both her daughter then her partner died unexpectedly between Christmas and New Year’s Eve, 2003. Also available as an audiobook.

Edward Hirsch, Gabriel: A Poem  An elegy written by a father after the death of his young son, combining his story with that of other poets through the centuries who have lost children.

Ann Hood, Comfort: A Journey Through Grief  A memoir about the sudden death of the author’s daughter, surviving grief, and learning to love again.

Joyce Maynard, The Best of Us  An ultimately life-affirming reflection on coming to understand true love through the experience of great loss, written after the death of the author’s partner.

Joyce Carol Oates, A Widow’s Story An intimate memoir about the author’s grief after the death of her husband.

Mary Oliver, Thirst  Poems from the Pulitzer Prize winner describing her encounters with grief at the death of her partner of over forty years. The poems present sorrow as a path to spiritual progress, and as part of loving rather than its end.

Cheryl Strayed, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail  Powerfully written memoir of a young woman’s eleven-hundred mile solo hike after her mother’s death. Also available as an audiobook.

Sorrow’s Company: Writers on Loss and Grief