The Five Books You Need To Read If You Are Grieving

05/12/2023, Marie Curie, The UK's Leading End Of Life Charity

Books can be a great comfort during difficult times; a way to process tough emotions, a magical escape, or simply a reassurance that we are not alone.

There are books we find comfort in after the death of a loved one that we turn to time and again. Some novels we find at just the right moment in our lives.

This list of books to read while you’re grieving can provide some comfort in those difficult times, as they tackle grief and loss, or contain subject matter to provide escapism that could help you feel better – good, even – when, at times, that may have seemed a distant impossibility.

These classic novels are the best Marie Curie, the UK's leading end of life charity have found for helping you overcome the loss of a loved one, and for bringing lighter moments of reflection and contemplation back into your life.

The Year of Magical Thinking – Joan Didion

“Grief turns out to be a place none of us know until we reach it.”

Joan Didion's very personal account of the year following the death of her husband and then her daughter is one of the most well-known books on grief. Didion's raw, honest writing will connect with anyone who has ever lost a loved one.

A Grief Observed - C S Lewis

“The death of a beloved is an amputation.”

Similarly to the Harry Potter books, C S Lewis' Narnia series examines themes of loss and love. His book A Grief Observed is an intimate memoir on the loss of his wife after just a few short years of marriage.

Tiny Beautiful Things – Cheryl Strayed

“Small things such as this have saved me: how much I love my mother—even after all these years. How powerfully I carry her within me. My grief is tremendous but my love is bigger. So is yours.”

This book is slightly different; a collection of the author's responses to letters in her role as an internet agony aunt. She is particularly powerful on grief, having lost her mother when she was just 22 and her mother 45. We also recommend Strayed's book, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.

Grief is the thing with feathers – Max Porter

“Moving on, as a concept, is for stupid people, because any sensible person knows grief is a long-term project. I refuse to rush. The pain that is thrust upon us let no man slow or speed or fix.”

A novel about two boys coping with the sudden death of their mother. Max Porter's book is playful with language and form but serious about the subject of loss. Original, evocative and powerful this book combines beauty and pain in a way anyone who has lost a loved one will recognise.

The Beginners Goodbye – Anne Tyler

“It’s like the grief has been covered over with some kind of blanket. It’s still there, but the sharpest edges are .. muffled, sort of. Then, every now and then, I lift the corner of the blanket just to check, and .. whoa! Like a knife! I’m not sure that will ever change.”

Set in Baltimore, as all of Anne Tyler's novels are, The Beginners Goodbye tells the story of Aaron, a copy editor in a publishing house that specialises in Beginner's Guides. When his wife Dorothy dies, the loss affects him in ways he could never have imagined. A warm, insightful and uplifting read.

All the books listed above are available from your local bookshop. If you prefer to buy online, do consider using Amazon Smile - don't forget to select Marie Curie as your chosen charity!

If apps or podcasts are more your thing, you can discover Marie Curie's top six apps and podcasts for when you're grieving here.

If this blog has got you interested in starting your wellness journey call our wellness advisors at 020 7843 3597 or enquire here.

About The Author
Marie Curie is
 the UK's leading charitable funder of palliative and end of life care research. It funds its own researchers, and works in partnership with other organisations. Marie Curie research investments aim to improve the care and support that people affected by any terminal illness and their families receive.


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