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Resources for Handling Grief

A variety of resources are available for grieving families including websites, support groups, books, and online communities. Because each person has different needs and coping styles, what is helpful for one family member might not be helpful for another. Needs can also change over time.

After the loss of a child, it can help to connect with other people who have gone through a similar experience. Local support groups for parents or siblings can be found in many places including hospitals, churches, mental health centers, and community organizations. To find local support groups in a particular area, search online using keywords such as “grief support groups in (town).”

Websites and organizations that have been helpful to bereaved families include:

There are also websites specifically for siblings. These include:

Grief Camps

Grief camps are another resource for families to consider. They can offer siblings a chance to share and connect with others who have experienced loss. Examples include:

Books on Grief

There are many books available on grief and the grieving process. Some are specific to a particular audience like parents who have lost a child; others are more general. Examples of books that parents have found helpful are included below. 

    • Understanding Your Grief: Ten Essential Touchstones for Finding Hope and Healing Your Heart by Alan Wolfelt (Companion Press, 2004). ISBN: 187965125. Exploring many factors that make how we experience grief unique and the normal thoughts and feelings mourners might have, this book also discusses questions of spirituality, religion and self-help techniques to promote healing.
    • Healing a Parent’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Child Dies by Alan Wolfelt (Companion Press, 2002). ISBN: 18796513000. Featuring simple yet effective methods for coping and healing, this book seeks to provide answers and relief for grieving parents. Discussion topics include marital stress, helping surviving siblings, coping with hurtful advice, and working through feelings of guilt.
    • When the Bough Breaks: Forever After the Death of a Son or Daughter by Judith Bernstein (Andrew McMeel Publishing, 1998). ISBN: 0836252829. Featuring interviews conducted with more than four-dozen bereaved parents 5 years or more after the loss of a child, this insightful book discusses factors that affect mourning, family and social relationships during grieving, as well as how perspectives on life change after profound loss.
    • The Bereaved Parent by Harriet Schiff (Penguin Books, 1978). ISBN: 0140050434. Written by a former newspaper reporter who lost her child, this book provides practical, helpful guidance on topics such as the funeral, guilt, marriage issues, surviving siblings, and religion.
    • Dear Parents: Letters to Bereaved Parents by Joy Johnson (Centering Corp,1989). ISBN: 1561230332. This book features letters from bereaved families to other bereaved parents. Featuring stories of loss due to cancer, accidents, and miscarriage, these letters help the readers see that they are not alone in their grief.
    • A Broken Heart Still Beats: After Your Child Dies by Anne McCracken and Mary Semel (Hazelden, 2000). ISBN:156835560. Edited by a journalist and a psychotherapist, each of whom has lost a child, this compilation of poetry, fiction, and essays provides insights into the pain, stages of grief, and coping and healing process that follows the death of a child.
    • Grief Therapy edited by Karen Katafiasz (Elf Self Help, 1993). ISBN: 0870292676. Short and easy to read, this book helps explain how out of pain comes healing. It also provides meaningful messages of hope filled with illustrations.
    • Please Be Patient I’m Grieving by Gary Roe (GR Healing Resources, 2016). ASIN: B01DJJKP3U. For those looking to help someone grieving, this book paints a picture of what’s going on inside so they can provide love and support. It also helps those in the process of grieving understand that they aren’t alone on this journey.
    • There is No Good Card for This by Kelsey Crowe (HarperOne, 2017) ISBN: 0062469991. A collaboration between the creator of "Empathy Cards" and a compassion expert, this illustrated guide uses workbook exercises, actionable advice and no-nonsense humor to help the reader move past inertia that so often comes with helping someone going through a difficult time.
    • Hannah's Gift: Lessons from a Life Fully Lived by Maria Housden (Bantam, 2003) ISBN: 0553381229. Written by a mother in the wake of losing her three-year old daughter to cancer, this hopeful book helps understand and even celebrate the five lessons of truth, joy, faith, compassion, and wonder learned in the last year of her child’s struggle.
    • Beyond Tears: After Losing a Child by Ellen Mitchell, Rita Volpe, Ariella Long ‎ Phyllis Levine, Madeline Perri Kasden,‎ Barbara Goldstein,‎ Barbara Eisenberg,‎ Lorenza Colletti,‎ Audrey Cohen,‎ Carol Barkin (St. Martin's Griffin, 2009) ISBN: 0312545193. Written by nine mothers who each lost a child seven or more years previously, this book provides perspective about bereavement – what parents can expect to feel and experience but also how parents find a way to live again after loss.
    • It's OK that You're Not OK by Megan Devine (Sounds True, 2017) ISBN: 1622039076. Written in the wake of the loss of a partner, this powerful book delivers a simple message—that there is nothing wrong with grief—and helps the bereaved understand that healing from tragedy and loss takes more time our culture often expects. Includes practical guidance for managing stress, sleeping better and reducing anxiety.
    • Lament for a Son by Nicolas Wolterstorff (Eermans Publishing Company, 1987). ISBN: 080280294X. Documenting a father’s journey to come to terms with grief after losing his grown son in an accident, this book honestly depicts one man’s struggle and opens up the conversation for those who cannot find words for their own pain.
    • Swallowed by a Snake: The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing by Thomas R. Golden (Golden Healing Publishing 2010). ISBN: 0965464911. Men and women can learn from this book about how genders differ in their healing process. Promoting greater understanding between partners, the book describes how an individual’s loss can impact an entire family.
    • Grandparents Cry Twice: Help for Bereaved Grandparents by Mary Lou Reed (Baywood Publishing Company, 2000). ISBN: 2000. Addressing grandparents’ dual sorrow when a grandchild dies, this book helps grandparents who grieve for their lost grandchild and for the unbearable loss they see their own child bear.
    • Forgotten Tears: A Grandmother’s Journey Through Grief by Nina Bennett (Booklocker.com, Inc., 2005). ISBN: 1591137640. This book was written by a bereaved grandmother of a stillborn child to portray the unique grief journey grandparents endure. It describes the traditional stages and theories of grief but also includes quotes from leading grief authorities as well as personal accounts from bereaved grandparents.
    • For Bereaved Grandparents by Margret H Gerner (Centering Corporation, 1990). ISBN: 1561230022. Addressing the grief that grandparents feel when their children have a child die, this book shows how grandparents can help their children while still allowing themselves to grieve.
    • Healing a Child’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Families, Friends, and Caregivers by Alan Wolfelt (Companion Press, 2001). ISBN: 1879651289. Addressing what to expect from grieving young people, this book describes how to provide safe outlets to express emotion. Included are tested, sensitive ideas for actions that people can take, while remaining supportive and honoring the mourner’s loss.
    • A Child’s View of Grief: A Guide for Parents, Teachers, and Counselors by Alan Wolfelt (Companion Press, 2004). ISBN: 1879651432. This guide to how children and adolescents grieve after someone they love dies is appropriate for parents, teachers, and other adults. Helping adults recognize the importance of empathy toward a grieving child and provides guidelines for involving children in funeral services, this resource helps adults learn how to talk with children about grief and death.
    • The Grieving Child: A Parent’s Guide by Helen Fitzgerald (Touchstone, 1992). ISBN: 0671767623. A helpful resource for children who experience the death of a parent, sibling, or close friend.
    • Helping Teens Cope with Death by The Dougy Center (The Dougy Center, 1999). ISBN: 1890534021. Understanding the emotions of a grieving teen can be difficult. This book helps readers learn and how to meet that teen’s basic grief needs, providing insight into how different types of death impact teens differently and how they might cope with these losses.
    • Gone But Not Lost: Grieving the Death of a Child (Baker Books, 2011) ISBN: 080101381X. With short chapters that each cover one element of grieving, this book brings helps parents address feelings of anger or guilt, as well as the strain on a marriage that often accompanies the loss of a child.
    • When Dinosaurs Die: A Guide to Understanding Death by Laurie Brown (Little, Brown Books for Young Readers, 1998). ISBN: 0316119555. Explaining death and how we react to it, this simple story helps young reads understand what we do after death. 
    • WaterBugs and Dragonflies: Explaining Death to Young Children by Doris Stickney (Pilgrim Press, 2010). ISBN: 0829818588. This remarkable book uses the story of a waterbug becoming a dragonfly to explain death.
    • When Someone Very Special Dies: Children Can Learn to Cope with Grief by Marge Heegaard (Woodland Press, 1996). ISBN: 0962050202. In the format of a journal, this book is good for self-directed children who like to write about their feelings.
    • The Invisible String by Patrice Karat (DeVorss and Company, 2000). ISBN: 0875167349. This sweet story discusses the connections and memories we make with others are always with us.
    • What’s Heaven? by Maria Shriver (Golden Books Adult Publishing, 2007). ISBN: 0312382413. This easy-to-understand book helps young readers prepare and understand death.
    • Sad Isn’t Bad: A Good Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing with Loss by Melanie Mundy (Abbey Press, 2010). ISBN: 0870294393. Encouraging children to share their feelings with someone they love and trust, this very sweet story discusses an array of topics relating to death.
    • How Can I Deal with When People Die by Sally Hewitt (Franklin Watts, 2011). ISBN: 1445106213. Part of a series to help children better understand feelings and work through challenges, this book helps young children discover and understand how may feel when someone close to us dies through a combination of case studies and useful, practical advice.
    • The Hugging Tree: A Story About Resilience by Jill Neimark (Magination Press, 2015). ISBN: 1433819082. A story about a little tree that ends up on a cliff and must grow there, this poetic book aims to help children learn about resilience and getting in touch with inner hopes and dreams. 
    • The Healing Your Grieving Heart Journal for Teens by Alan D. Wolfelt (Companion Press, 2002) ISBN: 1879651335. For teens who like to write down their feelings, this book is also a good resource for teen counseling or support groups.
    • Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers: How to Cope with Losing Someone You Love by Earl Grollman (Beacon Press, 1993). ISBN: 0807025011. Offering advice and answering questions that teens are likely to ask when grieving the death of someone close, this easy-to-read book addresses different kinds of loss, including accidental death, long-term illnesses, and suicide.
    • I Will Remember You: What to Do When Someone You Love Dies: A Guidebook for Teens by Laura Dower (Scholastic Paperbacks, 2007). ISBN: 0439139619. Inspirational and accessible, this guide includes personal stories from real teens, advice from a renowned grief counselor, and a collection of creative exercises designed to help teens cope with pain and sorrow.

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Reviewed: June 2018