Books on Grief and Death

Annotated Bibliography Assembled by Elaine G. McGillicuddy

Books on Grief                                                                                                                                              In general, I found the first three to four books listed here especially good.

1. Martha Whitmore Hickman: Healing After Loss, Daily Meditations for Working Through Grief
Each page has a quote, a development of the thought, and an affirmation. I like this book a lot not just because the author who lost her daughter uses quotes from a wide variety of sources, she also offers very helpful & some very deep insights on bereavement.

2. Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D: Understanding Your Grief Ten Essential Touchstones
This is a good basic book that covers all the aspects of grief.

3. Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D: The Journey Through Grief, Reflections on Healing
There’s less copy in this book but somehow more.

4. C.S. Lewis: A Grief Observed
This short book is a classic, especially good for loss of a spouse. I identified with a lot in this book.

Other Books in which I’ve found helpful passages or sections here and there.

5. Earl A. Grollman, (rabbi): Living When A Loved One Has Died

6. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler: On Grief and Grieving – less helpful

7. Christine Longaker: Facing Death and Finding Hope
Chapter 11 “Healing Bereavement” and
Chapter 12, “The Spiritual Dimension of Bereavement” in particular.

8. Elizabeth Watson: Guests of my Life
The author selects passages from six great writers – Emily Dickinson, Rainer Maria Rilke, Katherine Mansfield, Rabindranath Tagor, Alan Paton and Walt Whitman to help her with her grief at the death of her daughter. I like this book a lot.

9. Paul Bennett: Loving Grief
Excellent little book. Paul Bennett also hosts a blog called “loving grief” here.
It’s worth looking at.

10. James H. Burch: There is No Death. There is Only Life
Pamphlet available online for $5. here:
Uses science & modern approach as well as author’s own translations of Gospels from the original Aramaic.

Books on Death

The first two books on death were lent me by a priest friend after my father died in 1979. I had taken notes and found them so helpful to reread after Francis died that I purchased my own copies. They are:

1. Marc Oraison: Death And Then What?

2. Ladislaus Boros: The Mystery of Death
Not easy reading for general public, but I found gems in it.

3. Marie Murphy: New Images of the Last Things, Karl Rahner on Death and Life After Death

4. Karl Rahner: The Theology of Death
Deeply theological (Not easy reading but gems here too.)

5. John Shelby Spong: Eternal Life: A New Vision
I love this book too!

7. Marc Oraison: La mort est une autre naissance
Espaces libres, Albin Michel, Paris.
Marc Oraison wrote the preface. Analytical, comprehensively covers various religions historically.

8. John O’Donohue: Anam Cara
Chapter 6 Death: The Horizon is in the well.

9. Elizabeth Johnson: Friends of God and Prophets
Chapters 10 “The Darkness of Death“ Chapter 11: “Companions in Hope.”

10. Thich Nhat Hanh: No Death, No Fear

11. Forrest Church: Love & Death: My Journey through the Valley of the Shadow.

12. Deepak Chopra: Life After Death The Burden of Proof

13. Jung on Death and Immortality Selected & Introduced by Jenny Yates

14. Maggie Callanan & Patricia Kelley: Final Gifts
(About the dying process.)

15. Marta Felber Finding Your Way After Your Spouse Dies

16. Greg Mogenson: Spiritual, Ethical and Pastoral Aspects of Death and Bereavement
(Chapter 10 in this book greatly helped me after my mother died. So I bought the book, then discovered it was taken from his own book which I also bought:

17. Greg Mogenson: Greeting the Angels An Imaginal View of the Mourning Process
I really like this book! Mogenson, a Canadian Jungian analyst has a website too with articles available in pdf. Of all the books I’ve listed, this is the one that not only helped me the most, it’s the book that most mirrors my experience. Hence, my power point presentation.

18. Fred Brancato: Ancient Wisdom and the Measure of Our Days

19. Sandra Gilbert: Death’s Door
Began as a book on the elegy but grew into a quite comprehensive study.

20. Helen Nearing: Loving, and Leaving the Good Life, Light on Aging and Dying.
Two books written after Scott’s death. Subtitle of the second one: “An inspirational gathering of thoughts on living a good old age into death” Selected by Helen.

21. Kathleen Dowling Singh The Grace in Dying, A Message of Hope, Comfort, and Spiritual Transformation I discovered this book during the spring of 2014, a little over four years after Francis’ death. I would say, although in a manner different from that of Greg Mogenson’s book mentioned above, this one also made a profound impact on me. As a transpersonal psychologist who has worked with thousands of hospice patients, this author has coined the expression, and described it with examples – the “Nearing Death Experience.” I witnessed in Francis the transformation of which she speaks.

22. IN THE MIDST OF WINTER Selections from the Literature of Mourning From Catullus to Camus, from Shakespeare to Virginia Woolf, from Lady Ise to Adrienne Rich, great writers express the inexpressible. Edited by Mary Jane Moffat after the death of her husband.)

23. Dying A Book of Comfort Healing Words on Loss and Grief selected and edited by Pat McNees (after the death of her father.)

24. Mourning and the Transformation of Object Relationships, Evidence for the Persistence of Internal Attachments by John E. Baker, PhD Harvard Medical School and Cambridge Hospital I have found this online 73 page pdf extremely helpful, as much as Greg Mogenson’s book, listed above (# 17).

Books of Poetry dealing with love and/or loss – gifts given me:

Donald Hall: Without, The Painted Bed, The Best Day the Worst Day, Life with Jane Kenyon.(His wife Jane Kenyon was a poet too; she wrote The Boat of Quiet Hours.

Book List for those dealing with Grief
~ titles given by friends which I did not read:

Good Grief ~ Granger E Westberg
Praying Our Goodbyes ~ Joyce Rupp
To Love Again: Finding Comfort and Meaning in Times of Grief ~Jean Monbourquette
I Can’t Stop Crying ~ Rev. John D. Martin
Learning To Say Goodbye When A Parent Dies ~ Eda LeShan
The Grief Recovery Handbook ~ J. W. James and Russell Friedman
How We Grieve Relearning the World ~Thomas Attig
The Story Of Ruth ~ Joan Chittister and John August Swanson. (Chapter on Loss)
As Much Time as it Takes – A Guide for the Bereaved,
Their Families and Friends ~ Martin J Keough
Gone From My Sight – The Dying Experience ~ Barbara Karnes
On Death and Dying & Death The Final Stage of Growth ~ Elizabeth Kubler- Ross
Men and Grief: A Guide for Men Surviving the Death of a Loved One : A Resource for Caregivers and Mental Health Professional ~ Carol Staudacher

Website that offers a treasure trove of poems:


Why My Online Blog Is Not Interactive

Dear Friends,

One of you inquired why I have not set up my blog to invite comments as most bloggers do now. The fact is, I did not set out to be a blogger.

Instead, it was my late husband’s cancer diagnosis in September, 2009, which led me to write “Dear Family and Friends” letters. Francis and I wanted to give them news of his progress.

Two of our friends then created as an accessible place to “park” those letters. It made for a convenient way to bring people up to date on developments. (In reality, I must add, however, there has been a lot of interactivity, both before and after Francis died – but through email, not via the blog online.)

After Francis died, my Dear Family and Friends letters (again, posted on the blogspot(s) – have served several purposes, all related to my decision to write, that is – to share our story. In some of those letters, I shared a handful of poems before they were published in the first and third book. I also used email to notify people about book readings I’ve given on the second book, SING TO ME AND I WILL HEAR YOU – A Love Story (2014).

I might, in future, invite responses online to my emailed letters posted online, on the blog. But, I’m turning 80 years old this year, 2015, and have a lot of outside work to do – in warm weather, maintaining the permaculture garden around me, and, in winter, even with neighbors’ help, there’s shoveling to do – a lot of it this year! These outdoor activities are blessedly compatible with writing, but, for an elder, even one who is “fit,” – physical work like that also uses up energy.

Know, therefore, that I welcome responses to my own emails, through email – even if I’m not ready to open up my blog to the wider pubic, in an interactive way. The contact link on my website also allows anyone who would like to email me to do that. And I’ve been pleased to response to some who have.

Peace and Blessings,