Books to Read When Dealing with Grief


Before I begin, I want to explain my reason for being inactive. Over the past week, I had gone back to school and my cat had passed away. Dealing with the death of my cat has been the worst thing I have had to endure. It feels like living my normal reality has become a hardship. With that in mind, I have had little desire to write. It was not until today, a week since Shadow’s death, that I have decided to write on this topic. The truth of the matter is that dealing with loss is hard. The time following the death feels as if it has not continued. Reflecting on my cat’s passing, I feel like the event took place in both a distant and near time. The feeling is terrible, but I have found comfort through reading. Here are a few books to help with grief.

The Sky is Everywhere by Jandy Nelson

The Sky is Everywhere is a touching story that covers the topic of death. The story observes Lennie, a teenager who has recently lost her sister. From her sister’s death, Lennie developed an extreme sexual desire as a part of mourning. Because of her recent development, Lennie has gained a romantic relationship with Joe, the hot and dorky guitarist, and Toby, her sister’s boyfriend who helps her feel like Bailey is still alive. Throughout the story, Lennie reflects on the heartbreaking matter of death that most people who are grieving realize. The topics that Lennie reflects on are often comforting to read about while grieving because it makes you feel closer to the characters. The Sky is Everywhere is a definite form of comfort. I give it a 5/5 stars for it’s therapeutic effects.

If I Stay by Gayle Forman

The novel, If I Stay, is a unique read, especially when grieving. When going through this story, you see Mia loose her entire family in one day. You start to become indulged into Mia’s thoughts as you begin to feel sympathetic. Gayle Forman makes you fall in love with all the characters as you watch them all exit the story. As you read along, you start to reflect on what you would choose in that situation. The theme that the story gets across is never taking your family for granted and if you are grieving then you can relate to the story wonderfully. With quotes such as, “And that’s just it, isn’t it? That’s how we manage to survive the loss. Because love, it never dies, it never goes away, it never fades, so long as you hang on to it.”, and “I have a feeling that once you live through something like this, you become a little bit invincible.”, you will never want to put this book down. This book is like comfort food for your soul.

Maybe One Day by Melissa Kantor

Maybe One Day is about Zoe, a young adult who has to watch her best suffer from leukemia. Throughout the book, you read as Zoe and Olivia’s future plans go to flames. You believe you are in the novel as you watch the pain be inflicted onto Olivia’s family. With many personal quotes such as “Time does not care how precious it is, how hard you are working not to squander it. Time passes.”, and “I was just thoughts, just air. There was nothingness all around me. Was this what it was like to be dead? When you died, did you still sense everything going on around you, only it was happening so far away that you didn’t care about it? You were floating through space and time, and nothing that happened to you mattered because nothing really could happen to you because you didn’t exist?” you will feel the suffering that Zoe is feeling.

Looking for Alaska by John Green

I am not an enormous fan of John Green (cue the boos of half of America). Despite my lack of favoritism toward his books, I do enjoy his writing style and personality. Looking for Alaska, which is my favorite book by him, covers the topic of loss quite well. I cannot explain how death is mentioned in the book because it will spoil the plot. However, I can vouch for the book by saying it does comfort people who are desperate on finding out how someone died. A few memorable quotes include, “Thomas Edison’s last words were “It’s very beautiful over there”. I don’t know where there is, but I believe it’s somewhere, and I hope it’s beautiful.”, “What is an “instant” death anyway? How long is an instant? Is it one second? Ten? The pain of those seconds must have been awful as her heart burst and her lungs collapsed and there was no air and no blood to her brain and only raw panic. What the hell is instant? Nothing is instant. Instant rice takes five minutes, instant pudding an hour. I doubt that an instant of blinding pain feels particularly instantaneous.”, and “He was gone, and I did not have time to tell him what I had just now realized: that I forgave him, and that she forgave us, and that we had to forgive to survive in the labyrinth. There were so many of us who would have to live with things were done and things left undone that day. Things that did not go right, things that seemed okay at the time because we could not see the future. If only we could see the endless string of consequences that result from our smallest actions. But we can’t know better until knowing better is useless. And as I walked back to give Takumi’s note to the Colonel, I saw that I would never know. I would never know her well enough to know her thoughts in those last minutes, would never know if she left us on purpose. But the not-knowing would not keep me from caring, and I would always love Alaska Young, my crooked neighbor, with all my crooked heart.”.

Those are my top books to read while grieving. If you have any more suggestions, please let me know in the comments.

Much love,

Marissa Nicole


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