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Coping with grief and loss: the best books we've read


Losing loved ones and coping with grief are unfortunately a part of life.  However, despite the fact that grief is one of life’s only true shared experiences, we are notoriously bad at talking about it. People are often unsure of what to say or fear causing further hurt or upset, which can be an incredibly hurtful and isolating experience for the bereaved.

Fortunately, there are thousands of writers who have experienced grief and have been generous enough to share their wisdom in written form.  At Apiary, while guiding our clients through these difficult life changes and transitions, we are often asked about our recommendations for helpful reading when coping with a tragedy. We have collectively, both in our personal and professional lives, read a lot of these books, from practical self-help books, to mental health support guides, to memoirs of another’s lived experience to poetry and creative writing.

Books can be extremely powerful, whether as a source of blissful escapism, a comfort, a guide and support or simply a reassurance that you are not alone, and people can often find a great deal of solace in the written word. Perhaps a book helps them to articulate what they are feeling, or writes it more eloquently than they ever could. Perhaps a book guides them as to the practicalities of dealing with grief and bereavement.  Whatever the reason for reading, there are books that we turn to time and time again for comfort and reassurance.  It may not ease the grief, but it can help you to feel more prepared and less alone.

In honor of World Book Day (March 2nd),we have compiled our top recommended books for coping with grief and loss, and for helping young children understand and manage grief.  

Helpful reading for teens and adults experiencing a loss or grief event

Straight Talk About Death for Teenagers(Earl Grollman) – Advice and answers to questions teens have when coping with the loss of a close friend or relative.

Grief Recovery For Teens (Coral Popowitz) – A teen guide to body oriented skills to help body healing after experiencing a loss.  

I Wasn’t Ready To Say Goodbye (Pamela Blair) – A step by step guide with recommendations to manage the sudden loss of a loved one.

Your Grief, Your Way (Shelby Forsythia) – Practical guidance, daily meditations, and concrete suggestions to work through grief.  

Hardcore Grief Recovery Workbook: F**k Death (Steve Case) – A guided journal and workbook with concrete exercises for every stage of grief.  

Grief is the thing with feathers (Max Porter) - A blend of poetry and prose which examines grief, parenting, poetry and literature through the visiting of a crow to a bereaved family.

Thinking Out Loud: Love, Grief and Being Mum and Dad (Rio Ferdinand) – a memoir from footballer Rio Ferdinand about losing his young wife to cancer and navigating the journey of being a single father and supporting his three young children.

Helpful reading for young children experiencing a loss or grief event

The Invisible String (Patricia Karst)  - A story which explores the ties that really bind us and the links to those who are important, whether they have died or are just in the next room. A lovely story which shows us we are never really alone.

My Yellow Balloon (Tiffany Papageorge) – A gentle and uplifting story for young children about a boy who loses his favorite balloon and learns that with time his sadness will get better and he can be happy again.  

Nana Upstairs, Nana Downstairs (Tomie de Paola) – A simple honest tale of a child learning to understand grandmother’s death.  

Lost In The Clouds: A Gentle Story ToHelp Kids Understand Death and Grief (Tom Tinn-Disbury) – A heartwarming story about a boy coping with the grief of his mother’s absence and learning that despite loss, children always have someone to talk to.

The Memory Box: A Book About Grief (JoannaRowland) – A gentle story about a child who creates a memory box for mementos and memories to help grief a lost loved one.  

Goodbye Mog (Judith Kerr) – An introduction to grief and loss for very young children which focuses on a cat (Mog) helping a kitten settle into life with her new family after she passes away.


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