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Coping with grief and loss? These books might help you through the hard times.

Coping with grief and loss? These books might help you through the hard times.

While times are difficult for many, it’s most especially hard for those who are experiencing loss: jobs, businesses, breakthroughs, loved ones. Processing grief may be subjective, but it is also a collective experience for every single human.

Dr. Miriam Benhaim, clinical director of the Center for Loss and Renewal, said that when we suffer core-level losses, the narrative arc of our life stories is torn apart.

“There are no shortcuts in this process, but books can help to repair and rewrite those narratives as we learn about the stories and struggles of those who have gone before us in meeting these challenges and in validating our feelings and reactions.”

Here are some book recommendations from the Fully Booked Grief collection featuring authors who have shared their experiences through pain and loss.  




Notes on Grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

As the COVID-19 pandemic became unstoppable around the world, Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie and her family members separated from one another. Then, unexpectedly, her father succumbed to complications of kidney failure.

Written in the wake of Adichie’s beloved father’s death in the summer of 202, Notes on Grief is a work of meditation, remembrance, and hope; a touching and exquisite tribute to the man she lost.

Words to hold on to

“Grief is a cruel kind of education. You learn how ungentle mourning can be, how full of anger. You learn how glib condolences can feel. You learn how much grief is about language, the failure of language and the grasping for language.”


When Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi

A well-decorated and renowned neurosurgeon and writer, Paul Kalanithi writes an unforgettable and life-affirming reflection on the challenge of facing mortality and on the challenge of facing mortality. 

Kalanithi died in March 2016 while working on When Breath Becomes Air: a profoundly moving and exquisitely observed memoir that answers some of life’s defining questions about living and death.

Words to hold on to

“Life wasn’t about avoiding suffering.”



Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief by by Claire Bidwell Smith

If you’re suffering from anxiety but not sure why, or if you’re struggling with loss and looking for solace, Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief offers help and answers. 

Grief expert Claire Bidwell Smith shares the little-known yet critical connections between anxiety and grief and offers practical strategies for healing in this book, something she discovered in her own life and dealing with her patients all throughout these years.

Words to hold on to

“Worry is the mind’s expression of anxiety. When we find ourselves worrying incessantly about things beyond our control, that is when we need to take steps to calm the mind.”



Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy by Sheryl Sandberg

Named as the Best Book of 2017 by Barnes & Noble and Amazon, Option B is a powerful, inspiring, and practical book about building resilience and moving forward after life’s inevitable setbacks.

Sheryl Sandberg felt that she and her children would never feel pure joy again after the sudden death of her husband. In this book, Sandberg says we all live some sort of Option B and she writes this book to help us make the most of it.

Words to hold on to

“Each one of us is more than the worst thing we've ever done.”



A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis

First published in 1961, A Grief Observed tells the anger and heartbreak that followed the death of American born poet, Joy Davidman’s wife. It is a book about the classic trial of faith as C. S. Lewis probes the fundamental issues of life and death.

Handwritten entries from notebooks that Lewis found in his home capture the doubt and anguish that we all face in times of great loss. Lewis questions his beliefs in this graceful and poignant affirmation of faith in the face of senseless loss.

Words to hold on to

“Grief is like a long valley, a winding valley where any bend may reveal a totally new landscape.” 



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