Books That May Help

Bereavement Literature

All of these books can be found at the main branch of the Humboldt County library.

Books for Younger Children

  • Annie and the Old One by Miska Miles is a beautiful story of a little Navajo girl whose grandmother is very old. It is gently explained in the book that dying is a natural process.
  • Everett Anderson’s Goodbye by Lucille Clifton is a picture book that illustrates the five stages of grief (denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance) through the eyes of a five-year-old whose father has died.
  • Saying Good-bye to Grandma by Jane Thomas helps children understand what goes on at a funeral. This book gives details of this event that seldom includes children.
  • The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia uses a leaf named Freddie and his companion leaves to discuss natural change and is a gentle way of addressing the balance between life and death.
  • The Mountains of Tibet by Mordicai Gerstein is a story about an old woodcutter and his choices when he faces the chance to live life over again. This story is a gentle look at one human being dealing with life’s choices and possibilities.
  • The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst shows how remembering the good things about those we love, even a cat, can make their death less sad.
  • When a Pet Dies by Fred Rogers deals with a child’s feelings about the loss of a beloved pet. Mr. Rogers is sensitive but clear and direct when he explains the finality of death.
  • Where Is Grandpa? by T. A. Barron and Chris K. Soentpiet is a touching story of a boy and his family who remember Grandpa after his death by sharing special memories of him.

Books for Older Children and Teenagers

  • Charlotte’s Web by E.B. White is the story of friendship. When Charlotte, the spider, dies at the fair grounds, her friends Templeton the rat and Wilbur the pig take her eggs back to the farm where they can safely hatch. (on video)
  • Lifetimes by Bryan Mellonie and Robert Ingpen tells about plants, animals, and people all having a lifetime. This beautifully illustrated book lets children see how dying is as much a part of living as being born.
  • Meet the Austins by Madeleine L’Engle tells the story of Maggy, a child orphaned when her father is killed in a plane crash. Maggy is insolent and sullen when she comes to live with the Austins but eventually accepts the loss, aided by the warmth and security of the Austin family.
  • The Two of Them by Aliki is about a little girl who takes care of her sick grandfather because of all the love and caring he had always given her.
  • How It Feels When a Parent Dies by Jill Krementz includes the conversations of eighteen boys and girls from seven to sixteen years-old as they discuss their experiences and feelings about the deaths of their parents. The causes of the deaths include accidents, illness and suicide.
  • Straight Talk about Death for Teenagers: How to cope with losing someone you love by Earl Grollman discusses normal reaction to the shock of death, how grief can affect a teen’s relationship with others, how participating in a funeral can help and how to work through the grief process. A journal section is included.
  • The Grieving Teen: A Guide for Teenagers and Their Friends by Helen Fitzgerald is a compassionate guide that pays attention to the special needs of adolescents struggling with death and gives them the tools to work through their pain and grief.
  • Tiger Eyes by Judy Blume explains how a young girl and her brother cope with the murder of their father. This story is particularly useful in helping children deal with sudden and traumatic death.
  • Where the Lilies Bloom by Vera and Bill Cleaver tells the story of a 14-year-old girl and her sibling who survive a bitter winter together after the death of their parents.

Parent’s Guides

  • How to Help Children Through a Parent’s Serious Illness by Kathleen McCue contains two chapters on death and grief. This book helps with children’s anticipatory grief by discussing what to tell the child about the illness; how children of different ages are likely to act; how to recognize early warning signs of grief; and how to find out what a child is really thinking or feeling.
  • Talking about Death: A dialogue between parent and child by Earl Grollman is divided into three sections: a Children’s Read-Along picture book with large type and beautiful illustrations; a Parent’s Guide to Explaining Death which contains ways of answering children’s questions; and a Resources listing of professional organizations, self-help groups, and books as well as audio and video tapes.

Books for Adults and Caregivers

  • Dying Well: Peace and possibilities at the end of life by Ira Byock, M.D. brings readers to the homes and bedsides of the dying and tells stories of love and reconciliation in the face of tragedy, pain, and conflict.
  • Final Gifts by Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley describes the “messages” that the dying give as they enter Near Death Awareness. This book helps caregivers to listen to those they love and become less fearful of what their loved one is saying.
  • Who gets Grandma’s Yellow Pie Plate? by M. Stum is a family-focused guide to transferring non-titled property such as Grandma’s yellow pie plate or Grandpa’s gold watch. It treats the matter with sensitivity, recognizing that belongings have different meanings to different individuals.
  • I’m With You Now: A guide through incurable illness for patients, families, and friends by M. Catherine Ray teaches the communication skills necessary to deal with the frightening topics and situations that accompany incurable illness.
  • The Dying Time: Practical wisdom for the dying and their caregivers by Joan Furman and David McNabb is a comprehensive and thorough handbook for the dying and their caregivers. It provides details on how to make the environment conducive to peace and tranquility, give physical care, and understand and respond to the emotional and spiritual crises that naturally occur.
  • The Grace in Dying: How we are transformed spiritually as we die by Kathleen Dowling Singh describes phases that signal when a dying person is entering the final stages of spiritual and psychological transformation and through this understanding subdues the ultimate fear of the dying process.

Books about Grief and Recovery

  • After Goodbye: How to Begin Again After the Death of Someone You Love by Ted Menten and Theodore Menten is designed to help the survivors find ways to grieve, let go, and move on after the death of a loved one.
  • A Broken Heart Still Beats: After Your Child Dies by Anne McCracken and Mary Semel, two mothers who share that unfortunate experience of having a child die. The authors describe their grieving process and how it affected their lives. The book also includes excerpts from works by authors such as Melville, Frost, and Shelley about the death of a child.
  • A Time to Grieve: Meditations for healing after the death of a loved one by Carol Staudacher begins with a quote from a survivor before each meditation then reflects upon the feeling and content of the quote. Affirmations follow to lead one forward in the grief process.
  • Grieving the Death of a Friend by Harold Ivan Smith guides the reader to move with the natural process of one of the most significant but unrecognized experiences of grief, the death of a friend. The book explores the aspects of friendship, passing, burying, mourning, remembering, and reconciling.
  • Swallowed by a Snake: The gift of the masculine side of healing by Thomas Golden blends folklore, cross-cultural analysis, and clinical advice to help both men and women understand the specific context and needs of grieving men.
  • The Courage to Grieve by Judy Tatelbaum presents the three phases of grief, talks about unsuccessful grieving, children’s grief, and the recovery process.