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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Specifically for grieving a father

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.

Specifically for grieving a mother

Cradled All the While: The unexpected gifts of a mother's death
by Sara Corse, Augsburg Fortress Publisher (2004).

A Grace Disguised
by Jerry Sittser 

In My Mother's Kitchen. An Introduction to the Healing Power of Reminiscence
by Robin A. Edgar; 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; 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.

The Last Violet: Mourning My Mother
by Lois Tschetter Hjelmstad, 2002. 
A sensitive and moving story, "The Last Violet: Mourning My Mother" explores on many levels one woman's journey from regret to inner peace, but it also helps others begin their own reflection and journey. The book offers heartwarming insight while bringing comfort to adult children and parents of any age.

Life Lessons My Mother Taught Me: Universal Values from Extraordinary Times
by Andrea Young, 2000

Mother and Two Daughters
by Gail Godwin, 1994

Mother Loss: A Daughter's Search for Truth & Healing (audio book)
by Hope Edelman, 1995

Motherless Daughters: The Legacy of Loss
by Hope Edelman, 1994
Research and case studies primarily about daughters who experienced the childhood loss of mother and the impact on adult life.

by Lynn Davidman , 2000
Loss of a mother at an early age.

A Mother Loss Workbook: Healing Exercises for Daughters
by Diane Hambrook, Gail Eisenberg (Contributor), Herma Rosenthal, 1997
Includes varied exercises, open-ended questions, writing topics, room for self-expression.

Motherless Mothers
by Hope Edelman, 2007
"Edelman's voice, infused with fierce maternal love, joins the candid recollections from motherless mothers of all ages and backgrounds. She presents emotionally charged concepts in clear, memorable terms…to encourage frank, cathartic discussion." - Publisher's Weekly

My Mother Dying
by Hillary Johnson , 1999
A beautifully written and emotionally compelling account of how two women look beyond the role of mother and daughter and see two complex individuals who are given a final chance to truly know each other under the pressure of impending death.

Remembering Mother, Finding Myself: A Journey of Love and Self-Acceptance
by Patricia B. Commins , 1999

by Cheryl Strayed


Kiss Me Goodnight: Stories and Poems by Women who were girls when their mothers died
by Ann O'Fallon & Margaret Vaillancourt (2005)

First Published: 11/02/1998
Last Reviewed: 08/01/2018