Our grief journey has inspired many of us to turn our grief into healing literature creations. The journey’s pain, isolation, and doubts have fueled beautiful written work from first-time to world known writers on print and online. For all, writing was a crucial part of their healing. This chapter attempts to highlight some of the many personal literary triumphs we came across in our search. In this section, we have tried to group these books into the following categories:

Commemoration to Loved Ones

Insights Provided on Life

Journeys of Healing

Life Lessons Learned

Personal Story


Resource Books


Commemoration to Loved Ones Books

Honor Your Angel Literary Project – Wisconsin resident Leah Dobkin launched a new business a few years go called Legacy Letters which helps people write the story of their lives and channel their collected wisdom and values into one comprehensive letter to be passed down to future generations.  A few weeks after launching the project, she was diagnosed with cancer. All of her events were put on hold until she finished chemotherapy in September of 2011.  Just as she was resuming it again, her 19 year old daughter Hannah died tragically.  It was an unfathomable, painful loss.  Dobkin also struggled to honor her daughter’s life, to make sure it “wasn’t in vain.” Dobkin soon realized that, just as she wanted to tell her daughter’s story, so would other parents who lost their children. So she developed what she calls Honor Your Angel Legacy Letters. In these specialty letters, parents or other family members can share the stories of their loved ones’ lives.


A group of bereaved mothers from One Family, an organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of victims of terror attacks and their families, has been compiling a book of recipes that had fallen out of favor due to trauma since those dishes were often the ones that were particularly preferred by family members who were killed.


BBC business editor Robert Peston dealt with his grief by transcribing his late wife’s final novel. His wife, Sian Busby, died at 51 years of age in September 2012, after battling cancer for five years just a month after specialists said there was nothing more that could be done for her. The book is called A Commonplace Killing.


Insights Provided on Life Books

Grief offers insight into the essence of life.  In her new book, Nocturne: On the Life and Death of My Brother, author Helen Humphreys brings the reader into the relationship deeply and puts into words her feelings after significant loss.


Vashon Marie Sarkisian’s book, Finding Joy After Loss, My Seven-Step Journey of Transforming Grief into Joy, was the result of her turning to writing as a tool to cope with the loss of her husband, Patrick James McCarty, who was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2005 and died three years later. It was during her writing that she discovered a path to her healing, and ultimately found a path to joy. She outlines seven simple steps in her book that led her down that path and in the end, she found something she had not expected. 


Journeys of Healing Books

Terry Jones Brady had two daughters, Heather and Holly, who succumbed to cystic fibrosis and then afterwards, experienced the suicide of her bereaved first husband, Tim Jones, after he could not bear life without his two daughters. She writes of her painful journey in A Mosaic Heart:  Reshaping the Shards of a Shattered Life which was published in 2011.


Dennis Fortunati was diagnosed with his first brain tumor in 1976, at the age of 26. At first, the neurosurgeon believed it to be a simple meningioma, that when surgically removed is gone for good. Although a scary episode, Dennis healed completely and he and his wife, Lorraine Neely Fortunati moved forward with living.   In 1984, the second brain tumor was diagnosed and for the next 17 years there were more recurrences. The tumor form was finally diagnosed as a hemangioplastic pericytoma. Its origin is in the bloodstream, which allows tumors to metastasize throughout the body, though in his situation usually only one or two at a time would occur. In 2001, Dennis’ condition began to deteriorate. On Jan. 24, 2002 Dennis died, as did the world Lorraine and her two children Kathleen and Tyler knew.  She eventually worked through some of her grief by interviewing 11 widows and two widowers and telling their stories of survival in her memoir When Your Honey-Do Done Gone: Endings and Beginnings.


Grieving father, Shawn Collins, in his new book, Letters to my Unborn Children helps parents with grieving after a miscarriage. Collins’s wife personally experienced three miscarriages. Collins hopes his book can help others move forward by working through their emotions and grief.


In 2009, David and Nancy Feist were watching their son, Justin, play baseball. Nancy suddenly collapsed and died. She left behind her husband, David, and five children, Hope, Justin, Ryan, Craig and Erin. David left his job as an elementary school teacher and became a full time father and author. He has since written 20 books some of them on grief including Hope For the Widower and books on loss for children.


David Feist has published several books on grieving since the death of his wife, Nancy, from heart failure when she was 26 weeks pregnant with their sixth child, Peter, who also died.  Nancy was 43 years old when she died on Father’s Day in 2009.


Nick and Lyne Reider were married for nine years until Nick suddenly and unexpectedly died at the age of 37 in early 2013. To help with her healing, she wrote a book on grief and loss called Lost and Found, Finding Life After Death. Reider says the memories were very difficult to put down on paper. As she was writing her book on grief for adults, her son, K.J., was also writing a book, When My Daddy Died. It is a collection of memories of his father and best friend.


Wild is Cheryl Strayed’s memoir of healing and redemption at the age of 26 after the death of her mother to cancer, the end of her marriage and a downward spiral into shooting heroin which occurred 18 years ago. It tells about her more than 1,660 km wild solitary hike from Southern California to the Washington/Oregon border in an effort to find her way back to life and living again.  .


Life Lessons Learned Books

Losing her husband in a sudden accident was unimaginable, but having to explain the tragedy to Acie Crownover, a 2-year-old daddy’s girl wasn’t easy either. Rebecca Crownover, a Texas Tech graduate now living in Dallas, published a children’s book describing how her daughter finally grew to accept the loss. My Daddy is in Heaven with Jesus tells the true story from Acie Crownover’s point of view of how her father, Adam, was injured in an all-terrain-vehicle accident during a 2009 Fourth of July celebration. Adam Crownover then spent six days in intensive care before he succumbed to his injuries. Four years later, Rebecca and Acie are gradually recovering. “I took a bad situation, and I wanted to use it to make it positive so maybe someone else could find comfort,” Rebecca said. “To give back through a tragedy provides so much more reward than to be negative and depressed about it.”


Ken Brack is a journalist who is still looking for answers and always will be after the loss of his 18 year old son, Mike, who was killed in a car crash in 2002, after a night of underage drinking. In his new book Unspeakable Gifts to be released in 2014, Brack tells the story of 10 families or groups of people who climb from unspeakable times and reclaim their lives. Throughout their ordeals, these people discover gifts their loved ones brought and attempt to create meaningful legacies.


A grieving brother, whose sister died of lung cancer, credits his grief with helping him to find the value of community. He honors his sister and the community in a new book on the journey to that discovery: The Little Way of Ruthie Leming: A Southern Girl, a Small Town, and the Secret of a Good Life. “As a younger man, all that meant to me was everybody knows your business and they want to hold you back. But I came to realize that the same social bonds that held me back as a young man were the things that was holding my family together and holding them up in their time of crisis.” The book helped long time neighbor and friend see how some good has come from the family’s tragedy: “It showed you what the true meaning of life was … the family and your values. You can’t buy that. When I’m gone, the only thing that’s going to show up to say I was here is the people I left behind.”


From Grief to Glory: An “Otto Rieke Story” is a biography of Otto Rieke who experienced the loss of two sons. His book is a retrospective of how tragedy and grief have rendered the subsequent glory of life even more glorious.


After the death of Leanne, his wife of more than 50 years, Dr. Frank Young, a medical doctor, scientist, pastor writes a treatise on surviving and lessons he learned from the grieving process from a Christian perspective in, Good Grief:  Love’s Final Gift.


Personal Story Books

English writer Julian Barnes, winner of the 2011 Man Booker Prize, wrote Levels of Life, which was released in September 2013. It is a non-fiction account of his grief following the death of his wife in 2008.


As a child she had two ill siblings that died way too young, one from a common pediatric cancer, the other from a rare genetic disorder. As she watched them struggle, the grieving sister channeled her grief to writing for solace and began keeping a journal at the age of eight. She eventually focused her experiences and her grief into the award-wining memoir Invisible Sisters: A Memoir. The feedback she received was overwhelmingly positive. It was Atlanta Magazine’s Best Memoir of 2009; the same year the Atlanta Journal-Constitution called it “one of eight great southern books;” and the Georgia Center for the Book declared it one of the 25 books all Georgians should read.


Nancy Steker and Susan Troppito, two Illinois women, had happy suburban marriages and families, until they both became widows way too soon. A Grieving Widows Journal; A Collection of Thoughts is the book they wrote, with intent to share the journey of loss. “Nancy and I only knew each other through the grammar school our children attended.” explains co-author Susan Troppito. “One day, as Nancy was consoling me, we began discussing our feelings as widows; loneliness, fears, confusion, etc. So, we decided to write it all down and publish a book.”


In a life marred by death and tragedy, Frances Holder Eastridge has channeled her trials into an autobiography, Roses Will Bloom Again. It chronicles Eastridge’s life as she grapples with losing her three young daughters, Carol, Nancy and Lisa, to Fanconi Aplastic Anema, a rare blood disease that hinders the body from replenishing its blood supply. Two of her daughters died before they turned 10 years old and the third lived to be 14 years old.


Jantsen’s Gift  by Penelope Cope recounts the unexpected death of the author’s 15 year old son from an undiagnosed heart condition and how she wants to go away as far as possible. She ventures to Vietnam which changes her life. She creates a “Touch A Life Foundation” dedicated to helping those desperate children in Vietnam, Ghana, Cambodia. 


On December 26, 2004, Sonali Deraniyagala, her husband, her parents and two sons were vacationing at a seaside resort in Sri Lanka when the Indian Ocean released its most ferocious tsunami.  She was her family’s sole survivor. In her book, Wave, Deraniyagala shares how she began to fashion a new life after the one she had carefully created including a wonderful marriage, two brilliant careers as Cambridge educated economist, adored 5 and 8 year old children, parents were all washed away in an instant. Writing the book was also a form of therapy after such a personally devastating and painful period of her life.


Grieving mom, Terri Ann Leidich, has published two books, From a Grieving Mother’s Heart and For a Grieving Heart which are the result of her experience of losing her 20 year old son in a motorcycle accident in 1991. During her ordeal of grief, Teri searched for books that would speak “heart to heart” instead of “head to head” and found very few available. As a passionate writer, she wrote in a journal which became an ongoing dialogue of her feelings and experiences through her tremendous loss which have resulted in these two books. Terri hopes the books can “put words to their emotions and feelings to their confusion” as people struggle with their own grief.


From Grief to Glory: One Man’s Journey by Richard Mook tells about the personal losses Richard suffered. He has lost nine people in the world who were closest to him including his mother, sister, father, “another” mother, two brothers, his wife, daughter and son.  Eight of these nine people averaged less than 35 years of age. He finds solace in the Lord and in His plan that keeps the author hopeful for the future.


“Parenthood” star Actor Dax Shepard shares heartfelt humorous tales about losing his father, Dave Robert Shepard Sr., in December 2012.


Grieving mom, Elena Stowell, wrote a book in 2012, Flowing with the Go: A Jiu-Jitsu Journey of the Soul which tells stories of her daughter through the lens of her newest passion, Brazilian jiu jitsu. It recently won a pair of awards. The book is about her daughter, Carly, who was days away from turning 15 and a freshman in high school when she died from an undiagnosed heart condition in 2007.


Beyond Surviving: A Compilation of Stories from Survivors of Suicide Loss  is a raw, beautiful, and inspirational collection of stories written by people who have survived the loss of a loved one to suicide. 100% of the proceeds of the book goes directly to “Survivors of Suicide Loss,” San Diego, a nonprofit organization, to help support survivor support programs and to carry out their mission. 


Charles Darwin’s secret grief over watching his daughter-in-law’s, Amy Darwin’s, painful death days after giving birth to his first grandchild in September 1876, is described in a series of letters he wrote to his best friend, botanist Joseph Hooker.



“Nothing gold can stay.”  Barbara Crooker begins her new poetry book, Gold with that quote from Robert Frost. As she wrote the book’s poems, which chronicle her grief and joy as her mother’s caregiver during her battle with emphysema and breast cancer, she noticed the theme of golden imagery running through the


collection. She felt the quote described her desire to keep her mother in her life. 


Elizabeth Colon of Rhode Island expresses her grief through her poetry after the murder of her 22 year old nephew, Damian Colon, who was just about to start college and was playing video games when he was killed.


Resource Books

James Bruce III and his wife found comfort in the words of others after the death of their infant son. Bruce gathered these short accounts of how believers like John Calvin, Charles Spurgeon, John Bunyan grieved and were comforted by the Father of mercies in his book From Grief to Glory: Spiritual Journey of Mourning Couples.  Bruce hopes these accounts and words will help mourning parents through their grieving journey .


Grieving mom, Ginney Gallaway, wrote, A Friend In Grief, Simple Ways to Help which is a detailed and sensitive guide book for all of us who often wonder when faced with a friend’s grief, “What do I do?  How should I respond? What is the right thing to say? “ The book resulted from the aftermath of Gallaway’s 10 year old daughter’s, Sara Jane’s, death in a horrific car accident.


Helen Reicher Lambin wrote Death of a Husband: Reflections for a Grieving Wife {Comfort After Loss} subsequent to the passing of her beloved husband, Henry Lambin.  This also led to From Grief to Grace: Images for Overcoming Sadness and Loss “Grief Resources} which is a collection of images to assist people in naming, processing and overcoming grief caused by illness, a loved one’s death, a job loss or similar difficult situation. That Lambin writings have centered on loss and transition during time of difficulty and change is probably because she wishes to find some salvage value in experiences she would much rather not have.


When Dr. Doug O’Neill’s wife died of cancer, he found himself heartbroken and the single father of six young children. Dan Gilbertson’s wife’s death from leukemia left him lost and uncertain about the future and forced him to surrender custody of his two stepchildren of seven years. Twenty years later, Dr. O’Neill and Dan Gilbertson teamed up to co-author a bereavement survival manual especially for widowed fathers titled In Grief Odyssey.


Cheryl Salem, a singer and former Miss America, and her husband Harry Salem, a senior leader in the Oral Roberts ministry,  share insights and wisdom from their journey on the long road of grief after the death of their 6 year old daughter, Gabrielle from cancer in 1999. Just 3 months later, Cheryl was diagnosed with cancer and required surgery. The Salems have recounted their journey in two books From Mourning to Morning and From Grief to Glory.   By combining God’s powerful Word with principles shared by the Salems, their hope is that readers can silence voices of guilt and look forward to the promise of restoration and recovery and finding one’s way back to life after loss.


Wally Sparks book, When Someone You Know Loses A Child  hopes to raise awareness for those who find themselves interacting with a bereaved parent. It is a resource book for those desperately wanting to help bereaved people in grief situations The book resulted from grief over his 6 year old daughter’s fatal snowmobiling accident in 1995. Wally and his wife Dana plan to sell the book through customary retail channels and donate proceeds to the “Lindsay Marie Sparks Foundation” to provide copies of the book to hospitals and other organizations.


Kathe Wunnenberg knows about loss firsthand having experienced several miscarriages as well as losing a child at birth. As a result of these experiences, Wunnenberg founded an organization called “Hopelifters Unlimited” to give hope and healing to those who have suffered loss and experienced trauma in their lives. She refers to her team as “Hopelifters” and in this latest book she has written, Hopelifter: Creative Ways to Spread Hope When Life Hurts, she wishes to spread and receive hope through charitable and loving acts from a religious perspective.


Annette Toles Young’s sister-in-law, who had lost her own husband one year before her brother’s passing, sent a package with a card, reading material on grieving and very specific scripture verses on the first anniversary of Annette’s husband’s death. That package of verses became the mainstay of words which the author began reading daily. They were timely, much needed reminders of God’s unfailing love which rekindled the author’s faith and spirit as told in her book From Grief to Glory