10 Books about grief

Grief can feel very isolating. Reading about other people's experiences can make you feel like you're no longer alone.

By Kate Mitchell · November 4, 2021

While there are many more books about grief, we’ve chosen a selection of our favourite self-help, fiction and non-fiction books to help you when you need it the most. We hope you find our suggestions interesting, helpful or comforting.

10 books about grief and loss

  • A Grief Observed, by CS Lewis

This is one of the first personal accounts of grief to be published in the UK. Even after 60 years, this is still a powerful account of the grief of losing a partner.

No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear … the same fluttering in the stomach, the same restlessness, the yawning … at other times it feels like being mildly drunk, or concussed.

CS Lewis

A Grief Observed

  • Grief Works: Stories of life, death and surviving, by Julia Samuel

Psychologist Julia Samuel tells the stories of those who have experienced great grief and survived. Sections cover death of a parent, partner, sibling, child and facing your own death. Her insights reveal how when grief is approached in the right way, healing can follow.

  • Thinking Out Loud: Love, Grief and Being Mum and Dad, by Rio Ferdinand

When Rio Ferdinand spoke out about his grief following the death of his wife from cancer in 2015 it helped open up a national debate about grieving, and encouraged other men to talk about their feelings of loss. In this book shares openly and honestly the hard journey he’s been on along with his three children, and the support and advice that’s getting them through.

‘I didn’t even know how to work the washing-machine. All I knew was that my kids needed me, and if I was going to help them, I was going to have to ask for help too… I was about to find out that the tools I had learned as a footballer were the last thing my children needed from their dad when tragedy struck.’

  • The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion

This is another grief ‘classic’, and for a reason. The night before New Year’s Eve Joan Didion and her husband and partner of 40 years were just sitting down to dinner when John suffered a massive and fatal coronary.

The Year of Magical Thinking is Didion’s ‘attempt to make sense of the weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea I ever had about death, about illness … about marriage and children and memory … about the shallowness of sanity, about life itself’.

  • An Introduction to Coping with Grief, by Sue Morris

A self-help book which includes questions and exercises to help manage your grief and track your progress. It outlines strategies based on Cognitive Behavioural Therapy which are clinically proven and can help you cope with grief and bereavement.

  • It’s OK that you’re not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand, by Megan Devine

In this book Megan Devine argues that we need to move away from the idea that grief can be solved or cured and that we need to learn how to build a life alongside grief instead. She writes from the perspective of a therapist as well as someone who lost her partner in a tragic accident.

  • Sisters and Brothers: Stories about the death of a sibling, by Julie Bentley and Simon Anthony Blake

Sometimes those who have lost a sibling can feel like forgotten mourners. This book is a collection of short contributions discussing sibling loss. It tells the very individual story of 12 people’s individual experience of bereavement when facing the death of an adult sibling.

  • Grief Demystified: An introduction, by Caroline Lloyd

A book written for those who support bereaved people, which will also be useful to anyone who wants to go into a bit more detail about theories of grief and grieving, and learn how grief ‘works’. Chapters cover grieving styles, the interaction of grief and mental health, what to say to bereaved people and how to support them.

  • The Plain Guide to Grief, by John Wilson

This book tells you what to expect in the days, weeks, months and years after someone dies. It’s written in plain, simple language. It includes chapters on grieving during the pandemic and covers losses other than someone dying (loss of a pet, a job or a relationship). It can also help you decide whether or not you need counselling.

  • Grief is the thing with feathers, by Max Porter

This book is part fiction, part poetry and part difficult to define. It tells the story of a grieving family who are visited by a crow who threatens to stay until he is no longer needed.

Moving on, as a concept, is for stupid people, because any sensible person knows grief is a long-term project.

Max Porter