Recommended Winter Reading: Coping With Grief & Loss

Whether you’re experiencing a newer loss or have been coping with one for some time, it’s easy to feel alone and silenced by our personal pain and trauma.

In the midst of it all, it can be helpful to learn about shared grief journeys, true stories of loss from others, and how they’re getting by or aiming to create change as a result of their experiences.

This winter, cozy up into your favorite corner of the couch, grab a blanket and some hot cocoa or a cup of tea, and curl into one of the books below for some time of reassurance and reflection.

The following are all non-fiction, memoir-style stories that leave most readers with a sense of hope, and understanding that you are not alone.

A Manual For Heartache – by Cathy Rentzenbrink

Suitable for those in the early days or weeks of grieving, A Manual For Heartache is a heartfelt, easy- and quick-to-read, personal guide through the grieving process. This would make a good gift for a grieving friend.

A guide for those who feel alone in their pain and suffering, author Cathy Rentzenbrink shares the heart-wrenching story of her brother’s eight-year-long coma followed by his death. In reflection, Cathy came to realize just how much of her teenage and young adult life was shaped by ongoing grief and anxiety around her brother’s eventual death. Cathy shares her journey into finding joy in the world again, while also exploring how she coped with her most difficult and overwhelming moments in time.

This book would make a good gift for a grieving friend as it is warm, uplifting, and offers solidarity and comfort to anyone going through a painful time.

The Year of Magical Thinking – by Joan Didion

A deeply personal yet straightforward story—one that is considered a classic in its genre—acclaimed American writer Joan Didion takes the reader through two back-to-back tragedies, just days apart: her daughter’s septic-shock-induced coma followed by her husband’s fatal heart attack.

It seems writing this book was Joan’s attempt at making sense of the “weeks and then months that cut loose any fixed idea [she] ever had about death, about illness . . . about marriage and children and memory . . . about the shallowness of sanity; about life itself,” diving deeper into the edges of ongoing trauma.

The Wild Other – by Clover Stroud

Attempting to claw her way out from under the shadow of grief and trauma—and unsavory decisions made as a result—author Clover Stroud shares a complex and moving story that marries exploration with determination.

When Clover was just 16 years old her mothers fall off a horse leaving her permanently brain-damaged, resigned to a life lived in nursing homes, and Clover on her own. Clover takes the reader on a harrowing journey of self-discovery into “living loss,” impacting every life choice she makes going forward.

We join Clover on her journeys through love, sex, and travel in this deeply emotional story of survival and finding a life worth living.

Splitting the Difference – by Tré Rodriguez Miller

“At 18, Tré gave her newborn daughter up for adoption. At 19, her only sibling was killed in a car crash. At 34, she lost her husband to a sudden heart attack. Then, at 36, her now-teenaged daughter found her on Facebook—and began to reshape the course of Tré’s life.”

With a light, inspiring undertone, moving expressions of love and legacy, author Tré Rodriguez Miller shares her experience of being a young widow in New York City. The reader is taken on a lighthearted journey through the profound, healing impacts of creating rituals around loss, and how that led Tré on a bucket-list excursion of a lifetime.

Are there other books you’d like to add to this list? Please leave a comment below with your winter reading recommendations.

Are you in a place of needing to explore some of the ideas in these books further, with a professional? I can help you apply the coping strategies to your own life and your own grief process. CLICK HERE to learn more.

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