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Books for grieving the death of a parent

  • Most of the links from the book titles below will lead you to, where you can learn more about the book, read reviews about it, and order it if you'd like. Most of these books can be purchased through other book sellers, as well, or found at your local library.

    Always Too Soon
    by Allison Gilbert
    It is a compilation of about 20 people's stories who have lost both parents.

    Death of a Parent: Transitions to a New Adult Identity
    by Debra Umberson, 2006.
    Umberson comes to some truly illuminating conclusions. This clear insightful study provides a unique combination of research-based self-help and scholarly enterprise.

    Fatherloss: How Sons of All Ages Come to Terms with the Death of their Dad
    by Neil Chethik, 2001.
    FatherLoss features up-close-and-personal profiles of father-son relationships, drawing on the author's national survey of 300 men and interviews with 70 others. Grieving, Chethik says, is part of the unique relationship between sons and fathers; it is highly subjective and dependent on the son's age at the time of his father's death.

    Finding Your Way after Your Parent Dies: Hope for Grieving Adults
    by Richard Gilbert; September, 1999.
    This compassionate guide is for those struggling with the loss of a parent. Offers practical suggestions for navigating these difficulties.

    Forgiving Our Parents, Forgiving Ourselves: Healing Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families
    by David A. Stoop, 2004.
    Drs. Stoop and Masteller believe you can move beyond failure to forgiveness, cancelling the indebtedness of those who have hurt you. But before you can begin the process of forgiveness, you need to understand the roots of your pain, through exploring the family patterns that perpetuate dysfunction. When you understand your family of origin, you will be able to take the essential step of forgiveness.

    Grieving the Death of a Mother
    by Harold Ivan Smith; Augsburg Fortress Publishers, February, 2003.
    A mother’s death can make a shambles of schedules, priorities, agendas, commitments, and, sometimes, even our most important relationships. A mother’s last breath inevitably changes us. Drawing on his own experience of loss, as well as those of others, Harold Ivan Smith guides readers through their grief, from the process of dying through the acts of remembering and honoring a mother after her death.

    Healing the Adult Child’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas after Your Parent Dies
    by Alan D. Wolfelt, 2002.
    Offering heartfelt and simple advice, this book provides realistic suggestions and relief for an adult child whose parent has died. Practical advice is presented in a one-topic-per-page format that does not overwhelm with psychological language, but provides small, immediate ways to understand and reconcile grief.

    How to Survive the Loss of a Parent
    by Ackner & Whitney; Harper Paperbacks, November, 1994.
    Written for adults who are mourning the loss of a parent, this book attempts to help survivors understand how the parental relationship influenced other aspects of their lives.

    In My Mother's Kitchen : An Introduction to the Healing Power of Reminiscence
    by Robin A. Edgar; Tree House Enterprises, June, 2003.
    An introduction to the healing power of reminiscence, In My Mother's Kitchen focuses on the steps to recalling; recording and celebrating the significant memories that help the participant recognize and value the individuals and incidents that shaped their lives.

    In the Letting Go: Words to Heal the Heart on the Death of a Mother
    by Jonathon Lazear; Conari Press, March, 2006.
    When a mother dies, often the center of the family is gone. The holiday rituals, the special birthday celebrations for children and grandchildren—the memories are often held by the mother. A mother is a caretaker, a best friend, a source of sage-like wisdom. Losing her can be a traumatic experience. It is a space where you are invited to discover solace through the experiences and feelings of others—simple or profound.

    Living in the Shadow if the Ghosts of Grief
    by Alan D. Wolfelt, Ph.D, 2007.
    Explaining how multitudes of North Americans are carrying the pain of all types of loss—not just the deaths of loved ones but also the loss of a spouse through divorce, children who leave home, and the decline of health as they age or get sick—this balanced resource empowers mourners and grief counselors to turn grief into an experience to be learned from.

    Losing a Parent: Passage to a New Way of Living
    by Alexandra Kennedy, 1991.
    Kennedy shares her own story of facing the loss of a parent and offers innovative strategies for healing and transformation.

    Losing a Parent: Practical Help for You and Other Family Members
    by Fiona Marshall, 2004.
    In Losing a Parent, Fiona Marshall helps readers understand the process of coping with a parent's death, from preparing for death to recognizing the different stages of grief, from nurturing the relationship with the surviving parent to harnessing new strength to carry on with life.

    Losing Your Parents, Finding Yourself: The Defining Turning Point of Adult Life
    by Victoria Secunda, 2001.
    Drawing on her survey of 94 people, Secunda explores how adult orphans gradually give up their old childish identity and discover their true adult selves in terms of their relationships with siblings, children, and friends.

    Midlife Orphan
    by Jane Brooks, 1999.
    The word "orphan" may make us think of a child—but even self-sufficient adults can feel the pain of "orphanhood" when their parents are suddenly gone. Complicating the natural mourning process is the fact that this loss often occurs in our thirties, forties, or fifties—as we are raising our own children, watching them leave the nest, and facing other adjustments in our lives, from our jobs to our marriages to our health.

    Nobody's Child Anymore: Grieving, Caring and Comforting When Parents Die
    by Barbara Bartocci; Sorin Books, October, 2000.
    Stories from the author's own experience of mourning the loss of two parents, as well as dozens of other stories. She leads us through four stages that most adults experience at some time: caring for a dying parent, mourning the loss, caring for the parent left behind, and finding new meaning beyond grief.

    On Love Alone: Words to Heal on the Death of a Father
    by Jonathon Lazear; Conari Press, March, 2006.
    On Love Alone is the tranquil place you've been looking for. It is a heartfelt collection of quotes, poems, and passages. On Love Alone is a book to give to others when a simple card is not enough.

    The Orphaned Adult: Confronting the Death of a Parent
    by Marc D. Angel, 1997.
    In this compassionate work, Rabbi Marc Angel addresses a universal but largely overlooked phenomenon: adult orphanhood. This book presents a thoughtful discussion of the processes of adult orphanhood, including anticipating the death of a parent, mourning the parent, and internalizing the reality of the parent's death.

    The Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping with Grief and Change after the Death of Our Parents
    by Alexander Levy, 2000.
    Incorporating his own personal experience with the accounts of others who have lost their parents, psychologist Levy examines this profound life-changing event with compassion and understanding.

    Recovering From the Loss of a Parent
    by Katherine Donnelly, 2001.
    However you choose to cope—through private, inner searching or sharing your feelings with others—this book is a companion through the process of understanding and accepting your loss.

    She Loved Me, She Loved Me Not: Adult Parent Loss after a Conflicted Relationship
    by Linda J Converse, 2001.

    When Parents Die: A Guide for Adults
    by Edward Myers, 1997.
    Offers practical information and reassurance.

  • Specifically for grieving a father

    The Day My Father Died: Women Share Their Stories of Love, Loss, and Life
    by Diane Ajian, 1994
    Sentiment frames many of the portraits in this anthology of original nonfiction prose, poetry and book excerpts by 25 women writing about their fathers' deaths. All of these women struggle with self-respect; many must come to terms with their father's sins: substance abuse, abandonment and sexual abuse.

    The Death Of a Parent: Reflections for Adults Mourning the Loss of a Father or Mother
    by Delle Chatma
    The Death of a Parent: Reflections for Adults Mourning the Loss of a Father or Mother is filled with stories of people who have lost a parent and how they dealt with the reality of that event. Eighteen stories divided into eight sections touch on a wide range of emotions and situations related to grief, loss and moving on with one's life in a healthy manner. A spiritual reflection concludes each section.

    Fathers Aren’t Supposed to Die: Five Brothers Unite to Say Goodbye
    by T.M. Shine
    The Shine family discovers, there is nothing that trains us to navigate death's terrain, and nothing we can do to come out of the experience unscathed: death slams us in ways we can never possibly have fathomed. At once heart-wrenching, insightful, and piercingly witty, this book masterfully captures the devastating experience of trying to come to terms with a parent's death.

    Fatherless Women: How We Change After We Lose Our Dads
    by Clea Simon 2002
    There is a special bond between a father and a daughter, and when that bond is broken by death, a woman's life can change in profound and unexpected ways. Filled with moving stories of real women, this poignant, comforting, and insightful book paves the way for all women to make peace with the past, with the adults they have become, and to courageously face the question: what happens next?

    Fatherloss: How Sons of All Ages Come to Terms with the Deaths of Their Dads
    by Neil Chethik, 2000 (paperback, Sept. 2001)
    This book contains information on: how a son can prepare for his loss; coping immediately following the death; a woman's role in helping men through it; and the different ways men grieve.

    Longing For Dad: Father Loss and Its Impact
    by Beth M. Erickson, PH.D.
    Dr. Beth Erickson shows you how to identify, validate and heal the pain surrounding father loss and explore the spiritual crises of unresolved loss generates. by sharing compelling case studies of men and women, and her own personal struggle to accept her father's death, she guides you through the healing process.

    On Grieving the Death of a Father
    by Harold Ivan Smith, 1994
    Not many books have been written to help the grieving son or daughter deal with the new reality of a deceased father. Smith has combined personal stories from Frederick Buechner, Norman Vincent Peale, Corrie ten Boom, James Dobson, and many other well- known people to help others through their grieving process.

    The Orphaned Adult: Understanding and Coping with Grief and Change After the Death of Our Parents
    by Alexander Levy 
    The Orphaned Adult validates the wide array of disorienting emotions that can accompany the death of our parents by sharing both the author's heart-felt experience of loss and the moving stories of countless adults who have shared their losses with him.

    Remembrance of Father: Words to Heal the Heart
    by Jonathon Lazear, 1995
    Remembrance of Father allows people who have lost their fathers to reflect on the influence and presence their fathers have had in their lives. Using poetry, brief essays, and quotations from famous writers and drawing on the hard-earned wisdom of men and women whose father have died, this book is an opportunity for reflection, mourning, and honoring a father's memory.

    When Parents Die: A Guide for Adults
    by Edward Myers
    In this sensitive guide, Edward Myers offers sensible, compassionate advice to those coping with the death of a parent. Enriched by the voices of bereavement experts, clinicians, and individual men and women who have suffered the loss of a parent, When Parents Die will lead the grieving toward insight, growth, solace, and acceptance.

    When Parents Die: Learning to Live with the Loss of a Parent
    by Rebecca Abrams
    First published in 1992, When Parents Die draws not only on Rebecca Abrams' own evolving understanding of parental loss but also on the experiences of young children, teenagers or adults who have suffered the loss of a parent.