“I’m going to need some books,” I said to a friend hours after Dan died.
I’d gone to bed happily married and woken up a widow and single mom to 7 kids. I had zero idea of what we were facing. What would grief look like — for me and for my kids? What changes would we encounter and the real question — would we be okay?
Friends began to bring books and others I found in the months following. Honestly, no one book was THE thing that helped us but many played a piece of moving us through grief.
I’ve culled through my own shelves and lists to find the best Christian books on grief and loss. I’ve listed books on the grief process, books for the young widow, books for loss of a child, baby loss and miscarriage and other books that helped us heal.
Best Christian Books on Grief and Loss
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One of the classics on what the grief journey looks like. Norman Wright has experienced grief personally, after his disabled son passed away and later his wife. He has focused on grief counseling for decades as a family and child therapist and Biola University professor.
Probably the best general book on grief I read. Jerry Sittser is a pastor whose wife, daughter and mother were killed in a single car accident, leaving him a widower and single father. This is a raw and real look at grief and at trying to piece together the frayed ends of a life you never expected. Several years later, Sittser followed with A Grace Revealed: How God Redeems the Story of Your Life.
This is a short book that prepared me for the emotions I’d encounter in grief. Though it’s listed in ten *stages* of grief, there is no standard and organized order to the emotions of grief. Still a helpful book that is information, rather than healing, based.
This is a one-year devotional compiled from the writings of Christian authors like Kay Arthur, Elisabeth Elliot, Louis Palau, Joni Eareckson Tada and many more.
Nancy Guthrie started writing on grief and suffering after two of her children died as babies from a congenital conditions. This book walks through her grief after the loss of her first child, Hope, in the context of portions from Job.
This is a classic devotional, updated in modern language, that contains writings, poems, songs and meditations on trials and suffering. Reading a portion each day helped me refocus my heart on the hope we have in Christ.
Books on Suffering
This is a brand-new book compiled from Elisabeth Elliot. Elisabeth was widowed in her late 20s when her husband and missionary, Jim Elliot, was killed trying to reach the Auca people. She raised her daughter as a single mom and later got remarried, only to have her second husband die from cancer two years after their wedding. Twice widowed, Elisabeth unpacks Biblical truths that assure us suffering is never for nothing.
Joni Eareckson Tada knows loss and suffering. She became a quadriplegic at 18 years old, after a diving accident, and has suffered chronic pain and most recently breast cancer. Despite all of this, Joni has persevered to become an author, radio host, ministry founder, artist, recording artist, speaker and worldwide disability advocate. This book is a look at the Biblical context of suffering.
Another brand new book from well-known author Paul David Tripp, whose active life came to a screeching halt when he went into kidney failure. After multiple-surgeries dealing with his now chronic medical condition, Tripp peels away the layers of suffering in Biblical context.
Books for the Widow and Young Widow
This was one of the first books I read after Dan died. It’s written by a now husband-wife team, both of whom lost their first spouses. It felt a bit clinical to me and less personal, likely because they are both therapists. While it wasn’t THE answer to my grief, it did help me understand what I was dealing with.
Lisa Rabey and her children watched as her husband’s hot-air balloon tragically struck an electrical wire and he was killed before their eyes. She writes of the practical effects of grief, the emotions for her as a widow and for her children, and the decisions she made to move through grief.
Books When You’ve Lost a Child
This book has come highly recommnded by two friends whose sons passed away suddenly. I don’t know what it is to lose a child but this book walks through the deep ache and grief with poetically raw words.
Norman Wright’s son was disabled but he never expected him to die so young. As a family and child therapist, he writes both from what he’s seen over decades of counseling others and what he’s experienced firsthand in his own loss.
Books for Pregnancy and Baby Loss
This award-winning book will help you grieve and cherish the baby you never got to hold. Sarah walks through practical steps like dealing with social media, intimacy in marriage after loss, honoring the due date and more. This is one I’ve sent to friends after they’ve experienced miscarriage. You can read Sarah’s words on the blog here.
First, Adriel’s writing is beautiful. But more than that, she walks through the grief, suffering, questions and ultimately grace of miscarriage. There’s even a chapter especially for dads. You can read Adriel’s words on the blog here.
Other Books that Have Helped in Grief
This is the first book I read on lament and the place of lament for the believer. Esther’s experiences are different from mine but the permission and place of lament is the same. I found myself underlining and nodding along with her as she unpacked psalms, verses and Biblical truth on allowing our heart to lament.
Sometimes it helps to read biographies of others who have deeply suffered and the hope they’ve found in an unexpected life. That’s the story of Katherine an Jay Arnold, whose lives forever changed after Katherine suffered a brain-stem stroke at 26 that nearly killed her. The story of perseverance, faith and living well in the life God gives you.
After Dan’s death, we had a lot of questions about heaven. Knowing about heaven comforts us as we understand where our loved ones are now and focus our hope from the temporary to eternity. This is one of the best books on what the Bible has to say about heaven, separating cultural myths from truth.
This is an ongoing list. I’d love to know what books helped YOU navigate through grief.
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