Reading for Bereaved Families
Losing a loved one is never easy. The below resources may be helpful during this time.
Beyond Tears: Living After Losing a Child by Ellen Mitchell
Nine mothers share their stories on how to survive in the darkest of hours.
Children Die, Too by Joy Johnson and Dr. S.M. Johnson
This book talks about feelings, dealing with guilt, “why” questions, and facing sadness. There are also sections on relating to others, your other children, and moving on.
Empty Cradle, Broken Heart by Deborah Davis, Ph.D.
Empty Cradle, Broken Heart deals with feelings, death decisions, family needs, telling the children, support networks, and your next baby.
For Bereaved Grandparents by Margaret Gerner
Garner’s book addresses the grief grandparents feel and how they can be there while still grieving.
Grief Comes to Class – An Educator’s Guide by Majel Gliko-Braden
This handbook explains children’s understanding of death and how to help them deal with their feelings when grief comes to the classroom. It also includes a bibliography and outlines a process for a conference for a grieving student.
Healing Your Grieving Heart 100 Practical Ideas by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
This book provides 100 specific here-and-now suggestions and action-oriented tips on how to heal. There are also different versions to support spouses, young children, and teens.
How Do We Tell The Children? by Dan Schaefer and Christine Lyons
This step-by-step guide helps children and teens cope when someone dies.
Transcending Loss: Understanding the Lifelong Impact of Grief and How to Make it Meaningful by Ashley Davis Bush
Transcending Loss offers an inspiring new approach to the lifelong process of grieving. The author asserts that death doesn’t end the relationship; it simply forges a new type of relationship — one based not on physical presence but on memory, spirit, and love.
The Bereaved Parent by Harriet Sarnoff Schiff
The Bereaved Parent walks through the ongoing grief after a child dies and provides helpful recovery suggestions.
The Worst Loss: How Families Heal from the Death of a Child by Barbara Rosof
This book helps families understand the grieving process, timetables, and what they are feeling.
When the Bough Breaks: Forever After the Death of a Son or Daughter by Judith Bernstein
Parents share how they have navigated through grief and the changes within their families.
When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold S. Kushner
Rabbi Kushner’s elegant contemplation examines the doubts and fears that arise when tragedy strikes.
Finding Inner Courage by Mark Nepo
Through nearly 60 brief essays, Nepo explores the idea of inner courage.
Healing After Loss by Martha W. Hickman
In Healing After Loss, Hickman offers daily meditations for working through grief.
The Other Side of Sadness by George Bonanno
Bonanno, a psychologist, explores the power of human resilience in dealing with grief and loss.
Mourning & Mitzvah: A Guided Journal for Walking the Mourner’s Path Through Grief to Healing by Anne Brener
Brener gives spiritual insight and healing wisdom to those who mourn a death, to those who would help them, and to those who face a loss of any kind.
Chicken Soup for the Grieving Soul by Jack Canfield
This collection of stories offers support, advice, and comfort for those who are grieving.
Sacred Ceremony: How to Create Ceremonies for Healing, Transitions and Celebrations by Steven Farmer
Farmer outlines clear and simple guidelines for designing and performing ceremonies for any purpose.
The Mourning Handbook: A Complete Guide for the Bereaved by Helen Fitzgerald
The Mourning Handbook is written as a companion to those mourners in need of practical and emotional assistance during the trying times before and after the death of a loved one.
Seven Choices: Finding Daylight After Loss Shatters Your World by Dr. Elizabeth Harper Neeld
Seven Choices explores the seven phases of loss and shares stories of others’ experiences with grief.
Why Are the Casseroles Always Tuna? A Loving Look at the Lighter Side of Grief by Darcie D. Sims
With humor and heart, Sims writes about learning to live with grief.
It’s OK That You’re Not OK by Megan Devine
Devine offers deep insight about the unspoken truths of loss, love, and healing.
Grief One Day at a Time by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D.
Through 365 daily meditations, Dr. Alan Wolfelt offers small, one-day-at-a-time doses of guidance and healing. Each entry includes an inspiring or soothing quote followed by a short discussion of the day’s theme.
Fire in My Heart, Ice in My Veins by Enid Samuel Traisman
Age: 12 & up
By writing letters, songs, and poems, teens can tell the person who died what they want them to know and use their creativity to work through the grieving process. This grief journal encourages teenagers to work through their grief in a creative and healthy way and allows them to keep permanent memories of the person that died.
I Will Remember You: What to Do When Someone You Love Dies — A Guidebook Through Grief for Teens by Laura Dower
Age: 12 & up
This is an inspirational and accessible guide to coping with loss. It includes personal stories of death and life from real teens, advice from a renowned grief counselor, and dozens of hands-on creative exercises to help teens move through their pain and sorrow.
Recovering From the Loss of a Sibling: When a Brother or Sister Dies by Katherine Donnelly
Age: 12 & up
These intimate, true stories provide valuable insight, demonstrating that the reader is not alone and that others have gone through this devastating experience and have survived. In these pages, sisters and brothers share their innermost feelings, wanting others to gain comfort from their experiences.
Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers by Earl Grollman
Age: 12 & up
Simple and direct, this book addresses issues of death particularly affecting teenagers, such as normal reactions to the shock of death, how grief can alter relationships, how to work through grief, and more. It also includes a journal section to record the memories of the person who died, feelings about the loss, and hopes for the future.
When Death Walks In by Mark Scrivani
Age: 12 & up
When Death Walks In looks at ways of facing grief during the teen years and includes a lot of suggestions and hope.
A Bunch of Balloons by Dorothy Ferguson
This colorful workbook compares the loss of a loved one with the letting go of helium balloons.
A Child Remembers by Enid Traisman
A Child Remembers is a write-in memory book for bereaved children to help them cope with loss and continue on memories of their loved one. The pages include writing about the person’s life and death, a goodbye letter, a story about us, pages to draw the service, and pages to write about feelings.
A Terrible Thing Happened by Margaret Holmes
This book is useful for helping children who have experienced trauma understand their feelings, consciously and subconsciously. Raccoon Sherman Smith “saw the most terrible thing.” He tries not to think about it, but this doesn’t work. Eventually, Sherman talks to Ms. Maple who helps Sherman draw pictures and talk. With Ms. Maple’s help, Sherman learns to cope and feel better. The terrible thing is never defined, which allows many children in many different situations to identify with Sherman.
Badger’s Parting Gifts by Susan Varley
Age: 4 & up
Badger’s Parting Gifts focuses on what our loved ones who have died have taught us and how we are able to remember them. The use of animals to tell this story is well-suited for the youngest children.
Everett Anderson’s Goodbye by Lucille Clifton
This is a book for a young child who has lost a parent. Written in simple rhyme, it goes through the five stages of grief. As the last stage of grief is acceptance, it ends with “And no matter what happens when people die, love doesn’t stop, and neither will I.”
I’ll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm
This is a book about the grief and healing of a boy who loses his dog.
I Miss You. A First Look at Death by Pat Thomas
This picture book discusses death in a very gentle, realistic way for young children. It talks about different feelings, including that we might feel bad about things that we did, or didn’t do, but that it is not our fault.
Lifetimes by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen
Lifetimes is a story about life and death using nature, animals, and people — beginnings, endings, and living in between.
Sad Isn’t Bad by Michaelene Mundy
This honest, comforting, child-friendly book addresses the many aspects of children’s grief. It includes topics such as “It’s okay to cry,” “It’s okay to ask questions,” “It’s not your fault,” and “It’s good to share your feelings.” Sad Isn’t Bad can also be very helpful to parents.
Since My Brother Died by Marisol Munoz-Kiehne
A child recounts how things are different since his brother died and how he can continue to remember his brother throughout his life. Bilingual English/Spanish.
Talking About Death: A Dialogue Between Parent and Child by Earl Grollman
This is a simple and straightforward guide to answer children’s questions about death.
The Angel With the Golden Glow by Elissa Al-Chokhachy
Age: 3 & up
This story is about a little angel who is sent to Earth for a short time, in a special body that doesn’t work like everyone else’s, to spread love, joy, hope, and healing. And it is about another small angel who comes to Earth to be a part of the same family, after the “Angel with the Glow” returns to heaven.
The 10th Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst
When a little boy’s cat, Barney, dies, his mother helps him prepare for the funeral and offers comfort by asking the boy to think of 10 good things about Barney.
Water Bugs and Dragonflies by Stickney D. Cleveland
Water Bugs and Dragonflies helps explain death to young children and focuses on a beautiful life cycle.
When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Krasny Brown and Marc Brown
Unlike many books on death for little ones, this one doesn’t tell a story. Instead, it addresses children’s fears and curiosity head-on, and in a largely secular fashion, by answering some very basic questions: “Why does someone die?” “What does dead mean?” “What comes after death?”
When Someone Very Special Dies: Children Can Learn to Cope With Grief by Marge Heegaard
This is an interactive book that uses a practical format of drawing and coloring to help children to understand the concept of death and develop coping skills for life.
When the Wind Stops by Charlotte Zolotow
This is a wonderfully written and illustrated story about the life cycle; it offers a safe way to begin explaining death to young children.
Where’s Jess? by Marvin Johnson
This very simple story helps a child understand the death of a brother or sister and suggests useful coping techniques.