Books on death and grief

There are masses of great books on death and grief to support you coping with mortality, illness, dying, death and loss and funeral planning. Below are some of our recommended reading suggestions.

Living positively with illness

The Other Side (of the desk from the doctor), Dr Kate Granger
The Bright Side, Dr Kate Granger on living positively with a terminal illness

Death and loss

After You by Natasha McElhone
A Grief Observed (Faber Paperbacks) by C.S. Lewis
On Death and Dying by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

You’ll Get Over It by Virginia Ironside
Who Dies? by Stephen Levine
A Need for Living by Tom Gordon
Grief: The Great Yearning by Pat Bertram
A Journey through Grief by Nick Owen
Outside the Box by Maria Miendl
The Long Goodbye by Meghan O’Rourke – a memoir about grieving her mother’s death

After a death, care of the body, funerals

See Funeral Planning Guides with reading recommendations.

Books for Children

Thanks to CHAS, the Children’s Hospice Association Scotland, for their suggestions for children and young people:

3-5 years

When Uncle Bob Died, Althea and Sarah Wimperis
Let’s Talk about Feeling Angry, Joy Berry and Maggie Smith
When Dinosaurs Die, L K  and M Brown
Nana Upstairs and Nana Downstairs, T DePaola
Sad Isn’t Bad, M Mundy
Come Back Grandma, S Limb
Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities to help kids cope, J Silverman
Remembering Mum, G Perkins and L Morris
Badger’s Parting Gifts, S Varley
I Miss You, Pat Thomas

6-10 years

Muddles, Puddles and Sunshine: An activity book, D Crossly
When Someone has a Very Serious Illness: drawing out feelings, M Heegaard
When Something Terrible Happens, M Heegaard
When Someone Very Special Dies, M Heegaard
When a Family is in Trouble, M Heegard
When Mum Died, S Hollins and L Sireling
A Dragon in your Heart, S Leblanc
Forever in my Heart, J Levine
What on earth do you do when someone dies? T Romain
Water Bugs and Dragonflies, D Stickney
The Secret C: Talking Straight about Cancer, Julie Stokes
A volcano in my tummy: handling anger, E Whitehouse and W Pudney
Sad, Michael Rosen
Rabbityness, Jo Empson
Badger’s Parting Gifts, Susan Varley

11-13 years

Goodbye Chicken Little, B Byars
When Someone Dies, Children’s Grief Workbook, G Costello
Finding a Way Through When Someone Close Has Died, P Mood and L Whittaker
Gaffer Samson’s Luck, Jill Walsh Paton

See reading tips for children from Lorna Bradbury of The Telegraph.

Young adults

I Never Told Her I Loved Her, Sandra Chick
John’s Book, J Fuller
A Sound of Chariots, Mollie Hunter
Straight Talk About Death For Teenagers, E Grollman
The Charlie Barber Treatment, Carole Lloyd
On Eagle’s Wings, Sue Mayfield
Steve: A Story About Death, Marjorie Newman
Healing Your Grieving Heart For Teens, Alan Wolfelt

A schools project in Perth, Scotland, brought together CRUSE, the bereavement charity’s with the schools and NHS to provide support and resources for teachers, parents and children. See their extensive reading list.

Life and mortality

Staring at the Sun  by Irvin D Yalom – explores being at peace with your own mortality.
On the Shortness of Life by Greek philosopher, Seneca
Dying to Know, Andrew Anastasios: A great book to have around as a signal that death is a part of everyday life. It’s full of great images, photos, artwork, snippets of facts and figures, quirky quotes and thoughts. A light and interesting ‘let’s face it’ kind of book.
The Denial of Death (1974 Pulitzer Prize) Ernest Becker explores life, death + spirituality.
Mortality’s Muse: the fine art of dying D.T. Siebert


Remembering Well: Rituals for Celebrating Life and Mourning Death by Sarah York
Do Funerals Matter? The Purposes and Practices of Death Rituals in Global Perspective by William G Hoy


The Fault in our Stars John Green: “a soulful novel that tackles big subjects – life, death, love”.

Got a recommendation?

Let us know your ideas for books, guides, films, documentaries. Contact us.

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