Most people don’t want to read books about grief until they find themselves on a grief journey. At least that was true for me. After my husband died nine years ago, I found myself reaching for books that would give me hope in the depths of grief. I wanted to read the words of people who had been down their own windy path of loss — and survived.
In 10 short days, my own book baby about grief will be birthed into the world. It’s not a book I wanted to write, but it’s a book I deeply desire to hand to you. Chances are, you are navigating grief right now or you will be tomorrow. I wrote Breathing Through Grief: A Devotional Journal for Seasons of Loss with you in mind. This book is my heart poured out on the page. It’s also an invitation for you to enter the deep and beautiful work of lament. I provide scriptures, prayers and prompts to guide you. (Please consider pre-ordering the book today! This is a huge help in getting the book out into the world because retailers pay attention to Amazon pre-orders.)
The following books have influenced my theology of suffering and have carried me on my personal grief journey. I share them now for you to tuck away when you need them with more details about my book at the end.
A Grace Disguised Revised and Expanded: How the Soul Grows through Loss
With vulnerability and honesty, Jerry Sittser walks through his own grief and loss to show that new life is possible–one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple and ordinary gifts. This 25th anniversary edition features a new introduction and two additional chapters, one which provides help for pastors and counselors.
Loss came suddenly for Jerry Sittser. In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will face some kind of loss in life. But we can, if we choose, know the grace that transforms us.
Whether your suffering has come in the form of chronic illness, disability, divorce, unemployment, crushing disappointment, or the loss of someone you love, Sittser will help you put your thoughts into words in a way that will guide you deeper into your own healing process.
Prophetic Lament: A Call for Justice in Troubled Times
When Soong-Chan Rah planted an urban church in Cambridge, Massachusetts, his first full sermon series was a six-week exposition of the book of Lamentations. Preaching on an obscure, depressing Old Testament book was probably not the most seeker-sensitive way to launch a church. But it shaped their community with a radically countercultural perspective. The American church avoids lament. But lament is a missing, essential component of Christian faith. Lament recognizes struggles and suffering, that the world is not as it ought to be.
Lament challenges the status quo and cries out for justice against existing injustices. Soong-Chan Rah’s prophetic exposition of the book of Lamentations provides a biblical and theological lens for examining the church’s relationship with a suffering world. It critiques our success-centered triumphalism and calls us to repent of our hubris. And it opens up new ways to encounter the other. Hear the prophet’s lament as the necessary corrective for Christianity’s future. A resonate exposition of the book of Lamentations.
Prayer in the Night: For Those Who Work or Watch or Weep
How can we trust God in the dark? Framed around a nighttime prayer of Compline, Tish Harrison Warren, author of Liturgy of the Ordinary, explores themes of human vulnerability, suffering, and God’s seeming absence. When she navigated a time of doubt and loss, the prayer was grounding for her. She writes that practices of prayer “gave words to my anxiety and grief and allowed me to reencounter the doctrines of the church not as tidy little antidotes for pain, but as a light in darkness, as good news.”
Where do we find comfort when we lie awake worrying or weeping in the night? This book offers a prayerful and frank approach to the difficulties in our ordinary lives at work, at home, and in a world filled with uncertainty.
Dark Clouds, Deep Mercy: Discovering the Grace of Lament
Lament is how you live between the poles of a hard life and trusting God’s goodness. Lament is how we bring our sorrow to God-but it is a neglected dimension of the Christian life for many Christians today. We need to recover the practice of honest spiritual struggle that gives us permission to vocalize our pain and wrestle with our sorrow. Lament avoids trite answers and quick solutions, progressively moving us toward deeper worship and trust.
Exploring how the Bible-through the psalms of lament and the book of Lamentations-gives voice to our pain, this book invites us to grieve, struggle, and tap into the rich reservoir of grace and mercy God offers in the darkest moments of our lives. This book seeks to restore the lost art of lament in order to help readers discover the power of honest wrestling with the questions that come with grief and suffering.
Resilient Grieving: How to Find Your Way Through a Devastating Loss
The death of someone we hold dear may be inevitable; being paralyzed by our grief is not. Recent research has revealed our capacity for resilient grieving, our innate ability to respond to traumatic loss by finding ways to grow—by becoming more engaged with our lives, and discovering new, profound meaning.
Author and resilience/well-being expert Lucy Hone, a pioneer in positive psychology and bereavement research, was faced with her own inescapable sorrow when, in 2014, her 12-year-old daughter was killed in a car accident. By following the strategies of resilient grieving, she found a proactive way to move through her grief, and, over time, embrace life again.
A Grief Observed
A classic work on grief, A Grief Observed is C.S. Lewis’s honest reflection on the fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. Written after his wife’s tragic death as a way of surviving the “mad midnight moments,” A Grief Observed an unflinchingly truthful account of how loss can lead even a stalwart believer to lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and the inspirational tale of how he can possibly regain his bearings.
And Still She Laughs: Defiant Joy in the Depths of Suffering
Kate Merrick examines the Bible’s gritty stories of resilient women as well as her own experience losing a child to reveal the reality of surprising joy and deep hope even in the midst of heartache.
Is it possible live fully—even joyfully—in the middle of overwhelming pain?
In the excruciating aftermath of her young daughter’s death from cancer, Kate Merrick struggled to find a way to live. Not just to survive or go through the motions, but to live fully. Faithfully. With real joy amid inevitable tears.
To discover how, Kate delved into the stories in the Bible of real women who suffered deeply and emerged somehow joyful. How did Sarah, after twenty-five years of achingly empty arms, learn to laugh without bitterness? How did Bathsheba, defiled by the king who then had her husband killed, come to walk in strength and dignity, to smile without fear of the future? In her encounters with these heroines of the faith, Kate discovered how to have contentment—and even joy—whatever the circumstances.
Finding Faith in the Dark: When the Story of Your Life Takes a Turn You Didn’t Plan
Can we trust a God who gives us different answers than we pray for? Who only fully reveals himself when we look back? Who lets us walk in darkness for months (and sometimes years) at a time? In Finding Faith in the Dark, Laurie Short says yes, and through her story and the stories of others, she reveals a God who is able to transform the dark chapters of our lives into opportunities of grace.
This short volume spoke life and hope to me in a time of hurting. I’m grateful for Laurie’s words.
Suffering Is Never for Nothing
Hard times come for all in life, with no real explanation. When we walk through suffering, it has the potential to devastate and destroy, or to be the gateway to gratitude and joy.
Elisabeth Elliot was no stranger to suffering. Her first husband, Jim, was murdered by the Waoroni people in Ecuador moments after he arrived in hopes of sharing the gospel. Her second husband was lost to cancer. Yet, it was in her deepest suffering that she learned the deepest lessons about God.
Why doesn’t God do something about suffering? He has, He did, He is, and He will.
Suffering and love are inexplicably linked, as God’s love for His people is evidenced in His sending Jesus to carry our sins, griefs, and sufferings on the cross, sacrificially taking what was not His on Himself so that we would not be required to carry it. He has walked the ultimate path of suffering, and He has won victory on our behalf.
Life Can Be Good Again: Putting Your World Back Together After It All Falls Apart
What do you do when you are suddenly navigating a life you didn’t sign up for? You never saw this pain coming, and you’re facing a future you’d pass up if you could.
Lisa Appelo understands deeply. She has experienced the raw emotions and uncertainty that come when everything falls apart. Lisa went to bed married and woke up a widow and single mom to seven children. She wrestled with impossible questions about her future–and then found life-changing answers that gave her the strength to move forward with true joy.
When Mountains Crumble: Rebuilding Your Life After Losing Someone You Love
How do we make sense of what feels senseless?
Grief leaves us with empty arms and fistfuls of questions. If we don’t get help processing our loss, we can easily get stuck there. But take heart—there is hope to be found for the way ahead. When Mountains Crumble offers you an interactive, healing journey through the big questions and emotions of grief. This book serves as your companion and guide, providing practical wisdom and thought-provoking questions that will help you wrestle with the pain you’re feeling.
Danita Jenae, a survivor of loss herself, helps lighten your load of sorrow with gripping honesty, reassuring gentleness, and a mild case of dark humor.
Can You Just Sit With Me?
It takes time and space to grieve well, but often our culture doesn’t afford us these things. Drawing from her own experience with grief, Natasha Smith invites us into a reflection on what it means to grieve and how to cling to hope even in our darkest moments. Instead of providing quick-fix solutions, this book creates space for us to take time to just sit and grieve, learn, and heal in healthy ways.
Natasha writes vividly, ushering us through the experience of grief toward a sense of hope. She shares her grief journey and gently guides us along on our own, using biblical examples that resonate. I especially appreciate the grief exercises and prayers at the end of each chapter that invite us into God’s presence.
Breathing Through Grief: A Devotional Journal for Seasons of Loss
Reflect on your unique path through grief with this guided journal, featuring compassionate resources, short devotionals, and heartfelt essays from the perspective of a woman who has walked her own journey of loss.
Here’s my book’s description: After the sudden loss of her husband, Dorina Lazo Gilmore-Young felt lost in her grief. With Breathing Through Grief, she provides a comforting, giftable resource for those who are processing their own loss, whether of a loved one, a season of life, or a dream. In addition to the twenty-five short devotionals that each focus on a different aspect of grief from Dorina’s personal experience, the journal includes special resources such as breathing exercises, reflection questions, soul care tips, ample writing space, advice on how to talk to children about death, suggestions on how to approach triggers, and creative ways to honor a loved one’s memory.
If you or someone close to you is walking through loss, let the comforting words in Breathing Through Grief encourage you with the knowledge that you are not alone and bring you a semblance of peace as you continue forward on the road to healing.
Have you read any books about grief that you would recommend?
Stay tuned for more lists coming soon!
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