You aren't alone in your search for answers.

While tremendous life challenges and losses often don't bring any answers, sometimes learning about your experience and understanding that others feel the same way can be helpful.

These books have helped me immensely in my grief journey, and I don't recommend them lightly. I have only included the ones I've found most helpful and that I still keep on my bookshelves (trust me, there were many I tossed after reading!)

Bearing the Unbearable, by Dr. Joanne Cacciatore

This has been one of the most helpful books I have read in my grieving process. Joanne Cacciatore is a Zen priest, bereaved mom, and professor that has done groundbreaking work on grieving, not as a way to fix grief, but to walk with it. Readers, please note: this book discusses animal cruelty in chapters 45 and 48.

Good Grief, by Theresa Caputo

Yes, it's written by a celebrity medium, but I have to say, this book has been super comforting and validating. This was the first book I read after Ansel transitioned, and I really loved it and found it helpful, especially when it comes to understanding that our loved one's death was not about anything we did or didn’t do—it was just their time to go.

It's OK That You're Not OK, by Megan Devine

For those struggling with not having support after a loved one passes or have experienced a traumatic death, this book by therapist Megan Devine is validating and comforting when we are flailing. She discusses how our culture does not understand grief and often shuns it, isolating those of us who have experienced an immense loss. She also discusses an authentic way forward. This is one of the best books I have read on grieving!

The Power of Now, by Eckhart Tolle

If you have not yet read Eckhart Tolle, your time of grieving is an excellent time to start. I have found Eckhart Tolle’s works to be immensely helpful in coping with life in general, not just death or tattoo grief. He reminds us that we are not who we think we are—we are infinitely more, and we cannot be separated from the one life that joins us all.

Many Lives, Many Masters, by Dr. Brian L. Weiss

This book discusses death and reincarnation through the case of a patient and Dr. Weiss. While I wouldn’t recommend it immediately after you have experienced a loss, please do read it at some point throughout your grieving process. It has helped me realize that this life is just one of many, and we will not be “separated” from our loved ones for long.

Stillness Speaks, by Eckhart Tolle

This book contains short paragraphs by Eckhart Tolle and an entire section on Death and the Eternal and Suffering and the End of Suffering. Its short, digestible format and deep insights have been especially helpful for me in my grieving process. It was one of the first books to bring me even a tiny amount of comfort after Ansel’s passing.

How to Live When a Loved One Dies, by Thich Nhat Hanh

This is another book that has short sections and focuses on our loved one’s (and our) eternal nature and, therefore, our continued life with them even after they pass. While it doesn’t focus much on the grieving process specifically, it does help us imagine how our loved ones are still with us and the eternal nature of life itself.

The Five Invitations, by Frank Ostaseski

This is an incredible book about what death can teach us about living. I would recommend this book to anyone, but I would not recommend it immediately after a loss. I waited about a year after my loss to read it and it seemed to be the perfect time. I say this because it does have descriptions of death and dying that may be upsetting for some people, especially early in their grief.

The Most Important Thing, by Adyashanti

I wouldn’t recommend this book immediately after your loss, but again, do pick it up at some point during your grieving process. If you have read Eckhart Tolle, a lot of what spiritual teacher Adyashanti says will make sense. However, I feel Adyashanti describes his teachings in a more accessible way than Eckhart Tolle in places. 

Understanding Your Grief, by Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt

Although this book gives some odd advice in places (like getting less fat in your diet), I have found it immensely comforting and helpful during my grieving process. Dr. Alan D. Wolfelt describes grieving as being in the wilderness, your personal wilderness, of pain and loss and uses this analogy throughout the book to show how we move in grief.

There's More to Life Than This, by Theresa Caputo

I would recommend this book by Theresa Caputo after you have read Good Grief, but you could read them in either order and it would still make sense. I read this book later in my grieving process after I had read Good Grief, and it really built on a lot of what she talked about in the other book. Both are excellent reads when you have lost a beloved.

Set Boundaries, Find Peace, by Nedra Glover Tawwab

For recovering people-pleasers and codependents, this book is an absolute must-read. Licensed therapist and relationship expert Nedra Glover Tawwab also offers a workbook that goes with it, which I would recommend if you are new at setting boundaries. She details the work and benefits of boundaries in an easy-to-read and digestable format, with plenty of real-life examples.

Inner Bonding, by Dr. Margaret Paul

For recovering codependents and trauma survivors, this book by Margaret Paul builds on some of the work in Kelly McDaniel’s Mother Hunger, although Paul’s book was written decades earlier. It discusses how to re-parent yourself and listen to your inner child so you can start healing childhood trauma and live your life authentically. Written in an easy-to-understand format, this book was one of the most helpful to me in my healing process from trauma.

Adult Children of Emotionally Immature Parents, by Dr. Lindsay C. Gibson

Most people were raised by emotionally immature parents, and understanding our parents’ limitations and trauma can help us better understand them as people, and better understand ourselves. Although Gibson doesn’t suggest we can fix or heal our parents, she does discuss how we can potentially have a more authentic relationship with them now by accepting them as they are, which can ultimately be healing for us as adult children.

Complex PTSD: From Surviving to Thriving, by Pete Walker

I have my criticisms about this book (the main one being that it does not appear to have been edited at all—lots of typos!), but this is an extremely helpful book for people living with complex post-traumatic stress disorder (CPTSD). If you are a people-pleaser or codependent, this book is especially helpful and enlightening. Pete Walker is the therapist that coined the "fawn" trauma response term.

Daring Greatly, by Brené Brown

The power of vulnerability and the courage to be vulnerable in a culture that says it’s not cool is an act of bravery. While not a book specifically for grieving, I have found this book to be helpful in processing and healing my trauma and living a more authentic life. I would recommend it sometime later in your grieving or trauma-healing process.

You are the expert of your life and your experiences.

Grief is an overwhelming experience with difficult emotions, but you don't have to navigate this rocky terrain alone.

Let’s talk about where you’re at, what you’re struggling with, and where you want to be. I’m listening.

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