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West Bloomfield Township Public Library
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Books about Grief

This list compiles novels, memoirs, and non-fiction that deal with loss and grief.

Nora Webster : a novel by Colm Tóibín

Widowed at forty, with four children and not enough money, Nora has lost the love of her life, Maurice, the man who rescued her from the stifling world to which she was born. And now she fears she may be drawn back into it. Wounded, strong-willed, clinging to secrecy in a tiny community where everyone knows your business, Nora is drowning in her own sorrow and blind to the suffering of her young sons, who have lost their father. Yet she has moments of stunning empathy and kindness, and when she begins to sing again, after decades, she finds solace, engagement, a haven--herself

The beginner's goodbye : a novel by Anne Tyler

"Anne Tyler gives us a wise, haunting, and deeply moving new novel in which she explores how a middle-aged man, ripped apart by the death of his wife, is gradually restored by her frequent appearances--in their house, on the roadway, in the market. Crippled in his right arm and leg, Aaron has spent his childhood fending off a sister who wants to manage him. So when he meets Dorothy, a plain, outspoken, independent young woman, she is like a breath of fresh air. Unhesitatingly, he marries her, and they have a relatively happy, unremarkable marriage. But when a tree crashes into their house and Dorothy is killed, Aaron feels as though he has been erased forever. Only Dorothy's unexpected appearances from the dead help him to live in the moment and to find some peace. Gradually he discovers, as he works in the family's vanity-publishing business, turning out titles that presume to guide beginners through the trials of life, that maybe for this beginner there is a way of saying goodbye. A beautiful, subtle exploration of loss and recovery, pierced throughout with Anne Tyler's humor, wisdom, and always penetrating look at human foibles"--

Extremely loud & incredibly close by Jonathan Safran Foer

Nine-year old Oskar Schell has embarked on an urgent, secret mission that will take him through the five boroughs of New York. His goal is to find the lock that matches a mysterious key that belonged to his father, who died in the World Trade Center on the morning of September 11. This seemingly impossible task will bring Oskar into contact with survivors of all sorts on an exhilarating, affecting, often hilarious, and ultimately healing journey

Lily and the octopus by Steven Rowley

Crying in H Mart : a memoir by Michelle Zauner

"From the indie rockstar of Japanese Breakfast fame, and author of the viral 2018 New Yorker essay that shares the title of this book, an unflinching, powerful memoir about growing up Korean-American, losing her mother, and forging her own identity. In this exquisite story of family, food, grief, and endurance, Michelle Zauner proves herself far more than a dazzling singer, songwriter, and guitarist. With humor and heart, she tells of growing up the only Asian-American kid at her school in Eugene, Oregon;of struggling with her mother's particular, high expectations of her; of a painful adolescence (; of treasured months spent in her grandmother's tiny apartment in Seoul, where she and her mother would bond, late at night, over heaping plates of food. Asshe grew up, moving to the east coast for college, finding work in the restaurant industry, performing gigs with her fledgling band--and meeting the man who would become her husband--her Koreanness began to feel ever more distant, even as she found the life she wanted to live. It was her mother's diagnosis of terminal pancreatic cancer, when Michelle was twenty-five, that forced a reckoning with her identity and brought her to reclaim the gifts of taste, language, and history her mother had given her. Vivacious and plainspoken, lyrical and honest, Michelle Zauner's voice is as radiantly alive on the page as it is onstage. Rich with intimate anecdotes that will resonate widely, and complete with family photos, Crying in H Mart is a book to cherish, share,and reread"--

Notes on grief by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie

The author presents a timely and deeply personal account of the loss of her father

In love : a memoir of love and loss by Amy Bloom

"Amy and Brian's world was changed forever with his diagnosis of early onset Alzheimer's. Forced to confront the daily frustrations and realities of the disease and its impact on their lives and marriage, Brian resolved not to let it dictate his life andinstead asked himself: What makes life meaningful, and how do I want to live the rest of mine? His decision led them to learn about Dignitas and to fly to Zürich for a peaceful ending of Brian's life. In Love is the illuminating story of a marriage, of the gradual awareness that something was deeply wrong, and of a disease's effect on a man, a woman, a family. What were the signs that Brian and Amy brushed aside, and how did they cope when they could no longer ignore the truth as confirmed by an MRI? Why, in retrospect, did Brian decide to retire from his architecture practice earlier than he had planned? Bloom goes on to recount their search for a dignified and kind solution to the pain of Brian's life, and their discovery of Dignitas in Zurich, where the choice for a dignified end of life can be realized. In this moving memoir, Bloom also writes of their life together before Alzheimer's, and of a love that runs so deep that they were willing to work to find a courageous way to part"--

The grieving brain : the surprising science of how we learn from love and loss by Mary-Frances O'Connor

"From grief expert and neuroscientist Mary-Frances O'Connor PhD, The Grieving Brain utilizes cutting-edge research to guide us through how our brains process love and loss-and how we can learn to heal"--

Welcome to the grief club : because you don't have to go through it alone by Janine Kwoh

"Welcome to the Grief Club-a place where one human who experienced a terrible loss, Janine Kwoh, is at the door to welcome other humans who are grieving. It is not an instruction manual, or a step-by-step playbook, or a memoir. It is, rather, a fresh, empathetic approach to all of the surprising, confusing, brutal, funny, and downright bizarre parts of grief. Combining her own experiences with grief-the author's partner died when both were in their late 20s-with what she learned from others in her "griefclub," Kwoh uses brief writings and observations, hand-drawn illustrations, and diagrams to explore all the different ways grief happens. Plus, wisdom and understanding in every line-There is no right or wrong way to grieve-and permission to grieve in whichever ways you need, for however long you need to. What to do when the world is your grief trigger. Signs you have grief brain. And gentle assurances: Grief isn't linear, but it does change and will soften over time. It is a book to put into the hands ofanyone who is grieving, because from its very first page, that person will know they are no longer alone"--

Loving and living your way though grief : a comprehensive guide to reclaiming and cultivating joy and carrying on in the face of loss by Emily Thiroux Threatt

Including 26 practices and stories from people who have been through the grieving process, this handbook on how to deal with grief guides and lightens the journey to positivity for those who feel the pain of loss.

Lost & found : a memoir by Kathryn Schulz

"Eighteen months before her beloved father died, Kathryn Schulz met Casey, the woman who would become her wife. Lost & Found weaves together their love story with the story of losing Kathryn's father in a brilliant exploration of the way families are lost and found and the way life dispenses wretchedness and suffering, beauty and grandeur all at once. Schulz writes with painful clarity about the vicissitudes of grieving her father, but she also writes about the vital and universal phenomenon of finding. The book is organized into three parts: "Lost," which explores the sometimes frustrating, sometimes comic, sometimes heartbreaking experience of losing things, grounded in Kathryn's account of her father's death; "Found," which examines the experience of discovery, grounded in her story of falling in love; and finally, "And," which contends with the way these events happen in conjunction and imply the inevitable: Life keeps going on, not only around us but beyond us and after us. Kathryn Schulz has the ability to measure the depth and breadth of human experience with unusual exactness and then to articulate the things all of us have felt but have been unable to put into language. Lost & Found is a work of philosophical interrogation as well as a story about life, death, and the discovery of one great love just as she is losing another"--

Late migrations : a natural history of love and loss by Margaret Renkl

Presents a collection of brief essays on the author's childhood, her complicated parents, and her transition to the role of a caregiver

Grief works : stories of life, death, and surviving by Julia Samuel

Beyond the darkness : a gentle guide for living with grief and thriving after loss by Clarissa Moll

Sorrow is a dark and painful road. You don't need to walk it alone. The Bible says that "God is near to the brokenhearted," but what does that look like when you're lost in the darkness of agonizing grief? How do you engage with your sorrow when the world tells you to shoulder through or move on? Award-winning writer and podcaster Clarissa Moll knows this landscape of loss all too well. Her life changed forever in 2019 when her husband, Rob, died unexpectedly while hiking--leaving her with four children to raise alone. In her debut book, Beyond the Darkness, Clarissa offers her powerful personal narrative as well as honest, practical wisdom that will gently guide you toward flourishing amidst your own loss. In the pages of Beyond the Darkness, you'll learn how to meet and engage with loss in your everyday life, uncover the lies the world has told you about your grief, and point your feet toward hope and find a way to navigate your new life with loss and God beside you. Whether you've lost someone dear to you or you're supporting a loved one as they mourn, you can learn to walk with grief. And as you do, you might be surprised to discover the path is wide enough for another companion, the Good Shepherd of your soul. Grief may walk with us for the rest of our lives, but Jesus will too

Finding refuge : heart work for healing collective grief by Michelle (Michelle Cassandra) Johnson

"Finding Refuge is a book designed to guide you through exploring what is breaking your heart, where grief resides, and how it impacts you. This book is intended to serve as a tool for healing yourself, thus allowing you to create conditions to heal whatcontinually shatters many of us-the immense amount of suffering on the planet. It is a resource designed for you to be present with your grief by committing to a spiritual practice. It is a resource designed for you to digest the unprocessed grief that has emerged from the losses we are experiencing as a collective-the planet, resources, relationships, and connection; the pain of living in an unjust world. It is a resource that beckons you to be present to your broken heartedness while remaining open hearted"--

How to live when a loved one dies : healing meditations for grief and loss by Thaich Nhâat Hạnh

"In this book that offers relief to anyone moving though intense grief and loss, Zen Master Thich Nhat Hanh shares accessible, comforting words of wisdom on how to transform our suffering in the face of death"--

My wife said you may want to marry me : a memoir by Jason Rosenthal

An inspiring memoir of life, love, loss, and new beginnings by the widower of bestselling children's author and filmmaker Amy Krouse Rosenthal, whose last of act of love before her death was setting the stage for her husband's life without her in a column in the New York Times. On March 3, 2017, Amy Krouse Rosenthal penned an op-ed piece for the New York Times' Modern Love column - You May Want to Marry My Husband. It appeared ten days before her death from ovarian cancer. A heartbreaking, wry, brutally honest, and creative play on a personal ad-in which a dying wife encouraged her husband to go on and find happiness after her demise-the column quickly went viral, reaching more than five million people worldwide. In My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me, Jason describes what came next: his commitment to respecting Amy's wish, even as he struggled with her loss. Surveying his life before, with, and after Amy, Jason ruminates on love, the pain of watching a loved one suffer, and what it means to heal-how he and their three children, despite their profound sorrow, went on. Jason's emotional journey offers insights on dying and death and the excruciating pain of losing a soulmate, and illuminates the lessons he learned. As he reflects on Amy's gift to him-a fresh start to fill his empty space with a new story-Jason describes how he continues to honor Amy's life and her last wish, and how he seeks to appreciate every day and live in the moment while trying to help others coping with loss. My Wife Said You May Want to Marry Me is the poignant, unreserved, and inspiring story of a great love, the aftermath of a marriage ended too soon, and how a surviving partner eventually found a new perspective on life's joys in the wake of tremendous loss

Fifty words for rain : a novel by Asha Lemmie

From debut author Asha Lemmie, a sweeping, heartrending coming-of-age novel about a young woman's quest for acceptance-and the unexpected ally that will change everything-in post-World War II Japan.

Option B : facing adversity, building resilience, and finding joy by Sheryl Sandberg

Combining personal insights with research on finding strength in the face of adversity, the COO of Facebook and a top psychologist explore how to move beyond hardships, grief, and loss to persevere, build resilience, and rediscover joy

Everything happens for a reason : and other lies I've loved by Kate Bowler

"A divinity professor and young mother with a Stage IV cancer diagnosis explores the pain and joy of living without certainty. Thirty-five-year-old Kate Bowler was a professor at the school of divinity at Duke, and had finally had a baby with her childhood sweetheart after years of trying, when she began to feel jabbing pains in her stomach. She lost thirty pounds, chugged antacid, and visited doctors for three months before she was finally diagnosed with Stage IV colon cancer. As she navigates the aftermath of her diagnosis, Kate pulls the reader deeply into her life, which is populated with a colorful, often hilarious collection of friends, pastors, parents, and doctors, and shares her laser-sharp reflections on faith, friendship, love, and death. Shewonders why suffering makes her feel like a loser and explores the burden of positivity. Trying to relish the time she still has with her son and husband, she realizes she must change her habit of skipping to the end and planning the next move. A historian of the "American prosperity gospel"--the creed of the mega-churches that promises believers a cure for tragedy, if they just want it badly enough--Bowler finds that, in the wake of her diagnosis, she craves these same "outrageous certainties." She wants to know why it's so hard to surrender control over that which you have no control. She contends with the terrifying fact that, even for her husband and child, she is not the lynchpin of existence, and that even without her, life will go on. On the page, Kate Bowler is warm, witty, and ruthless, and, like Paul Kalanithi, one of the talented, courageous few who can articulate the grief she feels as she contemplates her own mortality"--

The year of magical thinking by Joan Didion

""Life changes fast. You sit down to dinner and life as you know it ends." These were among the first words Joan Didion wrote in January 2004. Her daughter was lying unconscious in an intensive care unit, a victim of pneumonia and septic shock. Her husband, John Gregory Dunne, was dead. The night before New Year's Eve, while they were sitting down to dinner, he suffered a massive and fatal coronary. The two had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years. The weeks and months that followed "cut loose any fixed idea I had about death, about illness, about probability and luck-- about marriage and children and memory-- about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself." In The Year of Magical Thinking, Didion explores with electric honesty and passion a private yet universal experience. Her portrait of a marriage-- and a life, in good times and bad-- will speak directly to anyone who has ever loved a husband, a wife, or a child" -- from publisher's web site

Tuesdays with Morrie : an old man, a young man, and life's greatest lesson by Mitch Albom

A sportswriter conveys the wisdom of his late mentor, professor Morrie Schwartz, recounting their weekly conversations as Schwartz lay dying

H is for Hawk by Helen Macdonald

When Helen Macdonald's father died suddenly on a London street, she was devastated. An experienced falconer—Helen had been captivated by hawks since childhood—she'd never before been tempted to train one of the most vicious predators, the goshawk. But in her grief, she saw that the goshawk's fierce and feral temperament mirrored her own. Resolving to purchase and raise the deadly creature as a means to cope with her loss, she adopted Mabel, and turned to the guidance of The Once and Future King author T.H. White's chronicle The Goshawk to begin her challenging endeavor. Projecting herself "in the hawk's wild mind to tame her" tested the limits of Macdonald's humanity and changed her life

A grief observed by C Lewis

In this classic trial of faith, C. S. Lewis probes the fundamental issues of life and death, and summons those who grieve to honest mourning and hope in the midst of loss. This work probes the "mad midnight moments" of Lewis's mourning and loss, moments in which he questioned what he had previously believed about life and death, marriage, and even God

Splitting the difference : a heart-shaped memoir by Tre Miller Rodriguez

An inspiring, irreverent, and heartrending memoir about love, loss, and splitting the difference between joy and grief. At the age of eighteen, Tre Miller Rodriguez gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. At nineteen, her only sibling was killed in a car accident. At thirty-four, her husband, Alberto, died of a sudden heart attack. But at thirty-six, her teenage daughter found her on Facebook and began to reshape the course of Tre's life. In sharply immediate prose, Tre unpacks her experience as a young widow in New York City: the "dumb sh*t" people say, the brave face she wears to work and social events, and the lack of solace in one-night stands. Her perspective only begins to shift when she spontaneously brings Alberto's ashes on a trip, which sets into motion a ritual of spreading him in bodies of water. By traveling to bucket-list destinations like Brazil and Cuba, Tre discovers a grief strategy for her roughest days. Alberto's death ultimately becomes a portal through which Tre views her past and embraces her future. She quits her corporate job, explores Alberto's homeland of Cuba, and joyfully reunites with her biological daughter in North Carolina. A deeply moving narrative, Splitting the Difference is written with the raw authenticity of a woman transformed by heartbreak and inspired by love's legacy

Grief Is the Thing With Feathers by Max Porter

Here he is, husband and father, scruffy romantic, a shambolic scholar--a man adrift in the wake of his wife's sudden, accidental death. And there are his two sons who like him struggle in their London apartment to face the unbearable sadness that has engulfed them. The father imagines a future of well-meaning visitors and emptiness, while the boys wander, savage and unsupervised. In this moment of violent despair they are visited by Crow--antagonist, trickster, goad, protector, therapist, and babysitter. This self-described "sentimental bird," at once wild and tender, who "finds humans dull except in grief," threatens to stay with the wounded family until they no longer need him. As weeks turn to months and the pain of loss lessens with the balm of memories, Crow's efforts are rewarded and the little unit of three begins to recover: Dad resumes his book about the poet Ted Hughes; the boys get on with it, grow up.

It's ok that you're not ok : meeting grief and loss in a culture that doesn't understand by Megan Devine

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.
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