Books on Grief

Option B – by Sheryl Sandberg

After the sudden death of her husband, Sheryl Sandberg felt certain that she and her children would never feel pure joy again. “I was in ‘the void,’” she writes, “a vast emptiness that fills your heart and lungs and restricts your ability to think or even breathe.” Her friend Adam Grant, a psychologist at Wharton, told her there are concrete steps people can take to recover and rebound from life-shattering experiences. We are not born with a fixed amount of resilience. It is a muscle that everyone can build.

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. But Option B goes beyond Sheryl’s loss to explore how a broad range of people have overcome hardships including illness, job loss, sexual assault, natural disasters, and the violence of war. Their stories reveal the capacity of the human spirit to persevere . . . and to rediscover joy.

Resilience comes from deep within us and from support outside us. Even after the most devastating events, it is possible to grow by finding deeper meaning and gaining greater appreciation in our lives. Option B illuminates how to help others in crisis, develop compassion for ourselves, raise strong children, and create resilient families, communities, and workplaces. Many of these lessons can be applied to everyday struggles, allowing us to brave whatever lies ahead. Two weeks after losing her husband, Sheryl was preparing for a father-child activity. “I want Dave,” she cried. Her friend replied, “Option A is not available,” and then promised to help her make the most of Option B.

We all live some form of Option B. This book will help us all make the most of it.
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The Complete C.S. Lewis Signature Classics

dying1For the first time ever, these seven essential volumes by C. S. Lewis are available in a single edition. This remarkable book presents the classic works Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, The Great Divorce, The Problem of Pain, Miracles, A Grief Observed, and Lewis’s prophetic examination of universal values, The Abolition of Man. Beautiful and timeless, this is a vital collection by one of the greatest literary figures of the twentieth century.
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I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye – Brook Noel

dying2Each year about eight million Americans suffer the death of someone close to them. Now for these who face the challenges of sudden death, there is a hand to hold, written by two women who have experienced sudden loss. This updated edition of the best-selling bereavement classic will touch, comfort, uplift and console. Authors Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D. explore sudden death and offers a comforting hand to hold for those who are grieving the sudden death of a loved one.
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The Year of Magical thinking – Joan Didion

grief3Didion’s husband, the writer John Gregory Dunne, died of a heart attack, just after they had returned from the hospital where their only child, Quintana, was lying in a coma. This book is a memoir of Dunne’s death, Quintana’s illness, and Didion’s efforts to make sense of a time when nothing made sense. “She’s a pretty cool customer,” one hospital worker says of her, and, certainly, coolness was always part of the addictive appeal of Didion’s writing. The other part was the dark side of cool, the hyper-nervous awareness of the tendency of things to go bad. In 2004, Didion had her own disasters to deal with, and she did not, she feels, deal with them coolly, or even sanely. This book is about getting a grip and getting on; it’s also a tribute to an extraordinary marriage.
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On Grief and Grieving – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s & David Kessler

dying4Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s On Death and Dying changed the way we talk about the end of life. Before her own death in 2004, she and her student, grief expert David Kessler completed On Grief and Grieving, which looks at the way we experience the process of grief.
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Life Lessons – Elisabeth Kübler-Ross & David Kessler

the-needs-of-the-dying-a-guide-for-bringing-hope-comfort-and-love-to-lifes-final-chapterIs this really how I want to live my life? Each one of us at some point asks this question. The tragedy is not that life is short but that we often see only in hindsight what really matters. In this, her first book on life and living, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross joins with her student, death and grieving expert, David Kessler to guide us through the practical and spiritual lessons we need to learn so that we can live life to its fullest in every moment. Many years of working with the dying have shown the authors that certain lessons come up over and over again. Some of these lessons are enormously difficult to master, but even the attempts to understand them can be deeply rewarding. Here, in fourteen accessible chapters, from the Lesson of Love to the Lesson of Happiness, the authors reveal the truth about our fears, our hopes, our relationships, and, above all, about the grandness of who we really are.
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I’m Grieving as Fast as I Can – Linda Feinberg

dying5Nobody should have to die in pain. Nobody should have to die alone. This is Ira Byock’s dream, and he is dedicating his life to making it come true. Dying Well brings us to the homes and bedsides of families with whom Dr. Byock has worked, telling stories of love and reconciliation in the face of tragedy, pain, and conflict. It is a companion for families, showing them how to deal with doctors, talk to loved ones—and make the end of life as meaningful and enriching as the beginning.
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Grieving the Death of a Mother – Harold Ivan Smith

dying6A mother’s death can make a shambles of schedules, priorities, agendas, commitments, and, sometimes, even our most important relationships. A mother’s last breath inevitably changes us. Drawing on his own experience of loss, as well as those of others, Harold Ivan Smith guides readers through their grief, from the process of dying through the acts of remembering and honoring a mother after her death.
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Motherless Daughters – Hope Edelman

dying7The Buddhist approach to death can be of great benefit to people of all backgrounds—as has been demonstrated time and again in Joan Halifax’s decades of work with the dying and their caregivers. Inspired by traditional Buddhist teachings, her work is a source of wisdom for all those who are charged with a dying person’s care, facing their own death, or wishing to explore and contemplate the transformative power of the dying process. Her teachings affirm that we can open and contact our inner strength, and that we can help others who are suffering to do the same.
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On Grieving the Death of a Father – Harold Ivan Smith

dying8Not many books have been written to help the grieving son or daughter deal with the new reality of a deceased father. Smith has combined personal stories from Frederick Buechner, Norman Vincent Peale, Corrie ten Boom, James Dobson, and many other well- known people to help others through their grieving process.
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Ghost Rider: Travels on the Healing Road – Neil Peart

dying8In less than a year, Neil Peart lost both his 19-year-old daughter, Selena, and his wife, Jackie. Faced with overwhelming sadness and isolated from the world in his home on the lake, Peart was left without direction. This memoir tells of the sense of loss and directionlessness that led him on a 55,000-mile journey by motorcycle across much of North America, down through Mexico to Belize, and back again. He had needed to get away, but had not really needed a destination. His travel adventures chronicle his personal odyssey and include stories of reuniting with friends and family, grieving, thinking, and reminiscing as he rode until he encountered the miracle that allowed him to find peace.
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The End of Your Life Book Club – Will Schwalbe

dying8During her treatment for cancer, Mary Anne Schwalbe and her son Will spent many hours sitting in waiting rooms together. To pass the time, they would talk about the books they were reading. Once, by chance, they read the same book at the same time—and an informal book club of two was born. Through their wide-ranging reading, Will and Mary Anne—and we, their fellow readers—are reminded how books can be comforting, astonishing, and illuminating, changing the way that we feel about and interact with the world around us. A profoundly moving memoir of caregiving, mourning, and love—The End of Your Life Book Club is also about the joy of reading, and the ways that joy is multiplied when we share it with others.
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Tears to Triumph – Marianne Williamson

The internationally recognized teacher, speaker, and New York Times bestselling author of A Return to Love argues that our desire to avoid pain is actually detrimental to our lives, disconnecting us from our deepest emotions and preventing true healing and spiritual transcendence.

Marianne Williamson is a bestselling author, world-renowned teacher, and one of the most important spiritual voices of our time. In Tears to Triumph, she argues that we—as a culture and as individuals—have learned to avoid facing pain. By doing so, we are neglecting the spiritual work of healing.

Instead of allowing ourselves to embrace our hurt, we numb it, medicate it, dismiss it, or otherwise divert our attention so that we never have to face it. In refusing to acknowledge our suffering, we actually prolong it and deny ourselves the opportunity for profound wisdom—ultimately limiting our personal growth and opportunity for enlightenment. Frozen by denial, we are left standing in the breech. Whole industries profit from this immobility, and while they have grown rich, we have become spiritually poorer.

As Marianne makes clear, true healing and transcendence can only come when we finally face our pain and wrestle with what it has to teach us. Written with warm compassion and profound wisdom, Tears to Triumph offers us a powerful way forward through the pain, to a deeper awareness of our feelings, our lives, and our true selves.
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There Is No Good Card for This: What To Say and Do When Life Is Scary, Awful, and Unfair to People You Love – by Kelsey Crowe & Emily McDowell

The creator of the viral hit “Empathy Cards” teams up with a compassion expert to produce a visually stunning and groundbreaking illustrated guide to help you increase your emotional intelligence and learn how to offer comfort and support when someone you know is in pain.

When someone you know is hurting, you want to let her know that you care. But many people don’t know what words to use—or are afraid of saying or doing the wrong thing. This thoughtful, instructive guide, from 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.

Written in a how-to, relatable, we’ve-all-been-that-deer-in-the-headlights kind of way, There Is No Good Card for This isn’t a spiritual treatise on how to make you a better person or a scientific argument about why compassion matters. It is a helpful illustrated guide to effective compassion that takes you, step by step by step, past the paralysis of thinking about someone in a difficult time to actually doing something (or nothing) with good judgment instead of fear.

There Is No Good Card for This features workbook exercises, sample dialogs, and real-life examples from Dr. Crowe’s research, including her popular “Empathy Bootcamps” that give people tools for building relationships when it really counts. Whether it’s a coworker whose mother has died, a neighbor whose husband has been in a car accident, or a friend who is seriously ill, There Is No Good Card for This teaches you how to be the best friend you can be to someone in need.
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