Best Book on Grief: What Would You Recommend?

Novelist Adam Haslett has added to the Wall Street Journal's "Five Best" series "Deathless Accounts of Mourning," which delineates the five books Haslett would recommend on the topic of grief. I am sharing Haslett's list in order to invite Suicide Grief: News & Comment readers to add a comment describing their favorite book about grief. Here are Haslett's choices and commentary:

  • A Grief Observed, by C.S. Lewis: "Whatever the meaning of the suffering he endures, Lewis's description of it is unflinching. The result is a remarkably intimate journey into one man's dark night of the soul."
  • Two Lives, by William Trevor: "'Reading Turgenev,' the first of two novellas in Two Lives, is a masterpiece in its rendering of the grief that follows loss."
  • The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion: "No choice of word or detail goes unexamined, from the science of cardiology to the last page her husband read—all of it is sifted for an answer that no research can provide: What are you supposed to do when the most important person in your life vanishes?"
  • Grief, by Andrew Holleran: "The narrator ... comes across the diaries of Mary Todd Lincoln ... In trying to fathom his own grief, he contemplates the depth of hers, and the novel, in beautifully restrained prose, opens up into devastating meditations on grief and loss."
  • The Good Soldier, by Ford Madox Ford. "In this deeply elegiac book it turns out the real grief isn't for the deceased but for the lost love and innocence of ... the couple that the narrator and his wife met nine years earlier, whose lives they imagined to be perfect. It is the unraveling of this illusion ... that gives this novel its force."

Please comment below on a book that you think captures the essence of the grief experience.


I read Thomas Attig's "How We Grieve: Relearning the World" not long after it first came out in 1996, and it gave me a different perspective than I had ever had on my grief. Relearning the world, indeed.