It is not a matter of if; it is a matter of when we are all going to lose someone, lose a possession, lose a job; it happens to all of us at some point in our lives. You are either going through a storm, coming from a storm, or heading to the next storm. No one lives a problem-free life; the key to getting through the pain and hurt is to feel the pain and keep moving. Grief is painful and very hard to deal with; I have gone through my fair share – lost my closest cousin (2013), lost my mum to cancer (2019), and getting laid off (2020).
I know I will still go through some grief later in the future; it is a tough period to deal with, and having great people and resources around you can make the pain bearable. Here are some great books that helped me go through the pain and navigate the grief without losing myself.
Top 7 Books on Grief
- There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love by Dr. Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell.
Grief re-orders your address book as you get to know who your true friends are, some of your friends would not reach out because they do not know how to deal with the awkwardness. In There Is No Good Card for This, the authors share great insights on dealing with the awkwardness.
“If you think an awkward response to a friend’s crisis will make them feel bad, then you should know that if you say nothing, they will likely feel worse. ”
In There is No Good Card for This, empathy expert Dr. Kelsey Crowe and greeting card maverick Emily McDowell, blends well-researched, actionable advice with the no-nonsense humor and the signature illustration style of McDowell’s immensely popular Empathy Cards, to help you feel confident in connecting with anyone experiencing grief, loss, illness, or any other difficult situation.
The first time something unimaginably terrible happens to a friend—and it will happen at some point—you may get a pass for awkward behavior. Yet as time goes on, if you want to be a responsible grown-up, you’ve got to do a little better than that. When someone in your life is hurting, there are real, concrete ways to help.
“Only when we realize we can’t hold on to anything can we begin to relax our efforts to control our experience.”
When I first got laid off, it was shocking and not expected, but I got used to it with time. Radical Acceptance was the book that helped me with accepting the new reality and moving on to the next level. It has been a roller coaster with the loss, but like any mess, it has got a MESSage.
In Radical Acceptance, Tara Brach explores in depth how Buddhist teachings can transform our fear and shame. Through meditation, mindfulness practices and fully understanding the healing power of compassion, we can discover the very real possibility of meeting imperfection in ourselves and others with courage and love – and so transform our lives.
We suffer when we cling to or resist experience when we want life different than it is. As the saying goes: “Pain is inevitable, but suffering is optional.
- It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine.
“There is no getting over it, but only getting under it. Loss and grief change our landscape. The terrain is forever different and there is no normal to return to. There is only the inner task of making a new and accurate map”
In It’s OK That You’re Not OK, 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. She debunks the culturally prescribed goal of returning to a normal, “happy” life, replacing it with a far healthier middle path, one that invites us to build a life alongside grief rather than seeking to overcome it.
“Loss, grief, and disappointment are profoundly personal. We all have unique circumstances and reactions to them.”
The book explores the psychology of recovery and the challenges of regaining confidence and rediscovering joy. Option B shares Insights on facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy.
Option B combines Sheryl’s personal insights with Adam’s eye-opening research on finding strength in the face of adversity. Beginning with the gut-wrenching moment when she finds her husband, Dave Goldberg, collapsed on a gym floor, Sheryl opens up her heart—and her journal—to describe the acute grief and isolation she felt in the wake of his death.
- On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss
Swiss-American psychiatrist, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross shared her framework on the stages of grief in her book, On Death and Dying. On Grief and Grieving applies these stages to the grieving process and weaves together theory, inspiration, and practical advice, including sections on sadness, hauntings, dreams, isolation, and healing.
The five stages—denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance—are a part of the framework that makes up our learning to live with the one we lost. They are tools to help us frame and identify what we may be feeling. But they are not stops on some linear timeline in grief. Not everyone goes through all of them or goes in a prescribed order.
- The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion
The Year of Magical Thinking (2005), by Joan Didion (b. 1934), is an account of the year following the death of the author’s husband John Gregory Dunne (1932–2003). The book recounts Didion’s experiences of grief after Dunne’s 2003 death. Days before his death, their daughter Quintana Roo Dunne Michael was hospitalized in New York with pneumonia which developed into septic shock; she was still unconscious when her father died.
In 2004 Quintana was again hospitalized after she fell and hit her head disembarking from a plane in Malibu. She had returned to Malibu, her childhood home, after learning of her father’s death. The book follows Didion’s reliving and reanalysis of her husband’s death throughout the year following it, in addition to caring for Quintana. With each replay of the event, the focus on certain emotional and physical aspects of the experience shifts.
“Life changes in the instant. The ordinary instant.”
- When Breath Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi
At the age of thirty-six, on the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, Paul Kalanithi was diagnosed with stage IV lung cancer. One day he was a doctor treating the dying, and the next he was a patient struggling to live. And just like that, the future he and his wife had imagined evaporated.
All the Best in your quest to get Better. Don’t Settle: Live with Passion.