“I’m going to need some books,” I said to a friend just hours after Dan died. I had no idea what grief would look like and I wanted the best Christian books on grief and loss to help me through the looming unknown.
I didn’t know anyone in my circle of friends or even acquaintances who had walked through such deep grief. None of my close friends or family had experienced deep loss either. I needed books on how to manage grief, books to bring hope after a loved one dies, and books to help me navigate the hard emotions of loss.
I’ve done the leg work for you and put together this list of the best Christian books on grief and loss. These are books I found in my own grief journey and after talking to hundreds of women (mostly) in their own bereavement.
This list is divided into sections with grief books for any kind of loss, books for a widow, books for grieving the death of a child, books on baby loss and miscarriage, and other biographies and books on suffering that have been hugely helpful. It’s updated and continually revised as new books come out.
Most of these books are available as ebooks for immediate download, as hardcopies, and as audio books. Listening to these books on audio is easy and makes it available immediately. You can start a trial subscription here.
Note: if you’re navigating children through grief, be sure to look at this list I compiled of the best books on grief for children.
Best Christian Books on Grief and Loss
Life Can Be Good Again: Putting Your World Back Together After It All Falls Apart
I’m so grateful to get to update this list of grief books and add my newly released book. This is my heart on paper and it’s not just for the widow. With stories of others who’ve experienced shattering losses, Life Can Be Good Again will help you navigate your raw emotions with God, find your footing in massive change, overcome paralyzing fear and anchor your faith when hope is threadbare.
Your unexpected future may feel like Plan B, but it’s God’s purposeful Chapter Two for you as He reshapes your shattered heart. With each tender, intentional step, you’ll see you will not merely survive this, but that life can be good again.” Find more about Life Can Be Good Again here.
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.
A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss
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.
Every Moment Holy, Vol. 2 Death, Grief and Hope Unknown
A book of 100 liturgies for the season of grief and loss from Rabbit Room Press. This beautiful book is leather-bound, gilt-edged and filled with illustrations.
Good Grief: 50th Anniversary Edition
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.
Through a Season of Grief: Devotions for Your Journey from Mourning to Joy
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.
Holding On to Hope: A Pathway through Suffering to the Heart of God
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.
Streams in the Desert
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
Suffering Is Never for Nothing
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.
When God Weeps
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.
Suffering: Gospel Hope When Life Doesn’t Make Sense
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
Getting to the Other Side of Grief: Overcoming the Loss of a Spouse
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.
When Your Soul Aches: Hope and Help for Women Who Have Lost Their Husbands
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
Lament for a Son
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.
Missing the Child You Love: Finding Hope in the Midst of Death, Disability or Absence
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
Loved Baby: 31 Devotions Helping You Grieve and Cherish Your Child after Pregnancy 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.
Grace Like Scarlett
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
No More Faking Fine: Ending the Pretending
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.
Hope Heals: A True Story of Overwhelming Loss and an Overcoming Love
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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Carmen Horne says
Lisa, my momma read “Heaven” by Randy Alcorn the year before she was diagnosed with terminal cancer. She had no idea she would be getting that news when she opened the first page. But, she was so excited about heaven after reading it. She talked often about how wonderful heaven was going to be. Then…the diagnosis. Her memories of that book gave her such peace as she walked through the valley leading up to her death. She spoke of it often in those last days. I have it in my bookshelf. I haven’t had the heart to read it yet. I know I will. She loved it so much. I’ve been letting my heart heal a bit.
This list is so needed. I will keep it close by. I am often asked what books I recommend. Thank you!
Lisa Appelo says
So good to hear that this book and your mom’s hope in heaven gave her peace. We all grieve on a different timetable. Maybe in time the book will be helpful but if not? God has His word this is the best comfort. Thank you, Carmen.
Facing a diagnosis that affected my brain and being able to process information, and being told there’s no cure, only hope for remission, sent me into grief quickly. But my path to healing began with Priscilla Shirer’s book God Is Able. A friend gave me the book Unshakable Hope by Max Lucado. Both were very much filled with wisdom that I needed to hear. God has lead me to Bible Studies that were amazing, which then lead me to understanding God in the most personal way! I prayed so hard for healing last year. But I’m so thankful that God didn’t heal me at that time as I would have missed out on so much that He has taught me through this journey. And I’ve come to the place where I thank God for my brain injury, for it has changed my life for the better!
Lisa Appelo says
That’s it exactly, Terri! God has so much for us IN the hard and we’d miss it if we got what we ordered. SO glad to see you doing well. xoxo
Anna of Stuffedveggies says
Thanks for a very helpful resource page. Another ancient classic is St. John Chrysostom’s Letter to a Young Widow http://www.ccel.org/ccel/schaff/npnf109.vi.iii.html?highlight=family#highlight
St. John Chrysostom was himself the child of a widow, so he had some knowledge borne of experience in the topic when he wrote.
Lisa Appelo says
I’m so glad to know of this! First, because I keep a list of children whose parent or parents died while they were young and second, glad to have this resource.
KARYN MEYER says
I am very grateful for this list. Not only for myself but for a very good friend who lost her young son unexpectedly and for my Mother and Law who still grieves hard like me. Your emails come in the just the moments and I’m so thankful. Another great book that brought some peace is “When God Winks” by Squire Rushnell.
Lisa Appelo says
Haven’t heard of that one, but I’ll look it up! So grateful for the encouragement we can give each other.
Wanda Curington says
Lisa, a friend recommended “Life After the Storm” by Jan Harrison after I lost my seemingly healthy 37 year old son to an enlarged heart suddenly in December. Jan lost her son suddenly as well. Though it refers to the loss of an adult child, I found it would be helpful in any loss. Thank you for your list.
Lisa Appelo says
Thank you for this recommendation, Wanda. I’ll look for that one.
Some dear friends of ours just lost both of their only children in a vehicle accident. Their mother is not taking it well at all and their father is very angry. Is there a book that would be good for them?
I have read all of the books you mentioned except for except for three . We lost our son to a snowboarding accident and I read many of them in the first few years after his death . A Lament for a Son was a very honest and helpful one. We have had other losses on our family since then and I too find books help along the journey of grief and loss . A Grief Observed by CS.Lewis also is an insightful personal record of grief .
Everyone’s grief is different and yet because we all are similar in many ways we can find great comfort from those who have walked the same road and have been comforted by the Comforter.
As you also have ministered to so many grieving widows … I share your devotional with my sister in-law who also was widowed with five young children .God Bless and encourage you in your comforting ministry !
Buried Dreams by Lindsey Dennis is a great book on loss. She shares her story of carrying two babies to term who died within hours of being born, and she shares how God met her in the midst of the deep grief.
A wonderful devotional for grieving a baby lost in miscarriage or stillbirth is Grieving the child I never knew by kathe wunnenburg. It was given to me after my first miscarriage and it helped me work through so many emotions in such a clear way. I give it to anyone God puts on my heart who is experiencing this pain.
Jan Dolly says
Lisa, I am sorry for the very hard loss you have suffered. Thank-you for all the great book selections. The wife of a friend just lost her adult son to a sudden heart attack and I want to send her some books that can help and comfort her. I have grown son’s also and cannot imagine one of them going before me. Thanks again, as now I have some ideas of books to buy for her. God is so good and so beautiful. May God bless and keep you and cover you with his peace and love.
Lisa Appelo says
Gettting your friend books to help her through this is so helpful. One of those I’ve heard again and again that helps is Lament for a Son, Nicholas Wolterstorff. I’m praying for your friend now.
My friend,Donna,husband just 48 years old passed away from covid. I had been standing in faith with her praying and believing in the Lord to heal him. My husband had been in hospital for 12 days before and was now home. My heart hurts for her and I would like to give her a book of hope of heaven and the peace only God can give her right now. Please let me know which book fits. My prayers go out to you as well. I know the Lord works all things out out for the good but it is hard to see when a person is grieving.
Lisa Appelo says
Hi Kellie, I’m so sorry for your friend’s loss. It’s an excruciating loss in any season and this one, where we are distanced makes it even harder. Streams in the Desert was especially helpful to me and perhaps would be for your friend as well.
Our granddaughter has had two miscarriages. I’ve been wondering how to support and recognize their grief. After seeing this list and praying, I decided to send them Grace Like Scarlett. Thank you for this list, it was very timely for me.