As our mentor, Alan Wolfelt says, “If you are old enough to love, you are old enough to mourn,” and in that regard, Olivia’s House has a resource for any adult, teen, or child of any age who has experienced a loss, including, but not limited to, death. Each book in our library includes age-appropriate language that will make it easier for an adult to answer a child’s questions about loss directly, in a safe and supportive environment. Our shelves are organized by different losses a child may experience, including sudden, unexpected, and traumatic deaths, as well as long-term illness and pre-death support. Olivia’s House also recognizes the importance and impact of “life cycle losses,” or losses that don’t involve a death, and our lending library has a wide variety of resources covering these topics, including divorce, deportation, military deployment, incarceration, substance abuse and mental illness in the home. And don’t think we’ve forgotten our teens and young adults! We have an entire section dedicated to this population and their unique needs after a loss. Whether you are in our back yard or across the globe, we are honored to provide recommendations from our lending library. Highlighted below is just a smattering of our favorites. Please contact us directly for more personalized recommendations!
The loss of a pregnancy affects us in so many ways, but it can be difficult to put your feelings into words. Kim Kluger-Bell’s book Unspeakable Losses dives into the concept of finding support after the loss of your baby when you don’t know quite what to ask for. Written by a therapist who experienced a miscarriage, this book provides real-time advice on getting through the day-to-day after your loss.
Processing the loss of your infant child feels nearly impossible, and the author of Silent Grief knows that pain all too well. In sharing her own experience and how she relates to the statistics of child loss, Clara Hinton send he clear message to readers that they are not alone in their silent grief.
When a parent experiences the shocking loss of a child, there can be so many questions raised about how to cope. In Hannah Lothrop’s book for parents in these circumstances, she uses both her training as a psychologist as well as her own experience with miscarriage, or perinatal loss, to provide insight to readers seeking direction. This book and many more on our shelves can be a comfort to you today.
In the first hours and days after the loss of a baby, Empty Arms by Sherokee Ilse is a resource that will cradle your family in its pages and guide you through the choices you are given to make. When the author and her husband lost their infant son, Brennan, they saw the need for a resource that answers the questions we may not even know to ask. Never hesitate to reach for this book if you need it or pass it along to a friend who might benefit from Ms. Ilse’s grace and wisdom.
After the loss of a child, you may not have the bandwidth to read a dense book. Anne McCracken’s A Broken Heart Still Beats is an easy-to-digest compilation of poetry, fiction, and essays, each written by a parent who has lost a child. These pieces of will touch your broken heart and remind you that your broken, or shattered, heart still beats.
When author Gail Griffith’s teenage son attempted suicide, their entire family’s lives were forever changed. Rather than thinking about life’s trivial conundrums, Gail was thrown into a life-or-death race to save her son’s life by getting him the right help. For any parent navigating a child with suicidal ideations, this resource is a source of hope and comfort to accompany your treatment journey.
Author Christopher Lukas has experienced loss to suicide in his family several times over, and in his book Silent Grief he shares the many facets that are involved with a disenfranchised loss like suicide. Personal stories from others who have lost a loved one to suicide are paired with expert guidance from psychologist Henry Seiden as the reader learns ways to overcome the feelings of shame, confusion, and guilt that can accompany a suicide loss.
A leader in the field and someone that the team at Olivia’s House has studied under, Kay Redfield Jamison penned Night Falls Fast: Understanding Suicide from the perspective of a scientist who has dealt with lifelong mental illness. By combining a historical, scientific, and personal perspective on the matter, Jamison can help readers understand some of the history of the epidemic of suicide.
When Iris Bolton’s son died by suicide, she began a journey of healing that encapsulated the full spectrum of life, death, and how all things are connected in this world. My Son, My Son is a personal story of the tragedy her family experienced, as well as the questioning and healing that came in the aftermath of her loss. This is one of our favorite resources, and Olivia’s House has professional connections with both author Iris Bolton and her colleague, Atlanta-based suicide specialist, Elaine Alpert!
As the premiere resource on sibling survivors of suicide, Michelle Linn-Gust’s book Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? is a look into the aftermath of the author’s younger sister to suicide. Providing the unique perspective of how this grief affects members of the family differently, Gust also discusses growing up in a bereaved household, how she relates to her living siblings, and how her life has changed in the years since the loss.
In the summer of 1985, William Styron (acclaimed author of Sophie’s Choice) became numbed by disaffection, apathy, and despair, unable to speak or walk while caught in the grip of advanced depression. His struggle with the disease culminated in a wave of obsession that nearly drove him to suicide, leading him to seek hospitalization before the dark tide engulfed him. Darkness Visible tells the story of Styron’s recovery, laying bare the harrowing realities of clinical depression and chronicling his triumph over the disease that had claimed so many great writers before him. His final words are a call for hope to all who suffer from mental illness that it is possible to emerge from even the deepest abyss of despair and “once again behold the stars.”
The Healing Consciousness by Beth Dupree is one of Program Director Julia Dunn’s favorite books in our library! Beth, a Pennsylvania native, is a skilled surgeon who, through her own experiences with loss, learns that curing disease and healing dis-ease are two very different things. Through her journey across her life and across the world, join Beth as she discovers the healing powers within.
Communication is key! Whether we are talking about a partner, a child, a parent, or a friend, expressing ourselves honestly and openly is important, but can be difficult! Harriet Lerner’s “The Dance of Connection” shows readers the best ways to connect on a deep and meaningful level while maintaining assertiveness.
Lifeshocks and How to Love them by Sophie Sabbage is a game changer! When we experience a “lifeshock,” or something that rocks us to our core, how do we proceed? Sophie explores how these moments in our life demand our attention and require a shift. As we are all experiencing a collective lifeshock, this is an excellent read to give you hope and a sense of control over your future!
If you love Parks and Recreation, The Office, or The Good Place. . .you will love the writer and creator behind these projects, Michael Schur! We added his brand new book to our library, entitled “How to be Perfect: The Correct Answer to Every Moral Question,” which is exactly the type of tongue-in-cheek title we would expect from the guy who plays Mose on The Office. Grab this book today for a hilarious yet insightful dive into what makes us human!
Elizabeth Lesser, co-founder of the world’s largest spiritual retreat, The Omega Center, sought to provide a resource to those who feel stuck after a loss. Utilizing stories of overcoming adversity in the face of life’s detours, “Broken Open“ offers tools to help the readers find peace and strength in resilience. The author invites us, in the face of our own challenges, to allow ourselves not to be broken down, but rather to begin a transformation: to break open.
As former Board President Vicki Friedman knows all too well, there comes a time in many of our lives when we must become a caregiver for someone that we love. How do you navigate this new dynamic, and what does it mean for your new identity? Allow Vicki’s words and beautiful illustrations to guide and comfort you as you face a new door opening in your life, one that may lead to beauty.
In Kim Kluxen Meredith’s book Listen for the Whispers, Kim tells the story of the tragic car accident that created an entirely new world in which she needed to learn how to survive and thrive. Injuries from the accident leave Kim’s husband a quadriplegic in his final days, as she cares for him in addition to her two bereaved children. When grief feels overwhelming, Kim tells the story of finding hope and healing by ‘listening to the whispers’ from inside her soul. Her inspiration is contagious, and this is a wonderful read!
Grace on the Ledge, a memoir by Patricia Thompson Collamer, tells the story of Patricia’s 86-year-old mother having a stroke and the aftermath of that event. As Patricia deals with constant caregiving, late night doctor’s phone calls, and trips back and forth between the hospital and her father’s house, she also takes us back to the 1960’s when her mother was a vibrant, independent, musical woman who had her whole life ahead of her. This book is a beautiful insight into being an adult child on the verge of losing a parent and will inspire your own healing and growth!
When someone you love is diagnosed with a serious illness and you are worried about how to care for them, it is easy to forget how to also care for yourself. In Earl Grollman’s Caring and Coping when your Loved One is Seriously Ill, Grollman provides clear and direct guidance on how to share the emotional load you are carrying and ensure that you don’t burn yourself out in the process!
When a parent is diagnosed with cancer, questions can burn in a person’s mind about how to prioritize time and goals. A Tiny Boat at Sea by Izetta Smith is a simple but powerful tool to guide families through this experience. A Tiny Boat at Sea includes a checklist to go through with your family as you seek to find rituals and special experiences that will last long after a life ends. This is a must-have resource for any family facing a terminal illness.
One of the most prolific authors in our library is our dear friend and mentor to Olivia’s House, Alan Wolfelt! One of his newest releases, “When Your Soulmate Dies,” acts as a navigation tool for discovering healing after the love of your life dies. Borrow this book today!
For those who have experienced the death of an adult child, it can be difficult finding other parents to connect to. Dorothy Ferguson’s “When Winter Follows Spring” is a book written by someone who understands this loss on a personal level and will guide the reader into finding comfort through connection.
Nadine Galinsky Feldman’s When A Grandchild Dies captures the complexity of emotions that follow such a tragic loss. While working through their own bereavement, grandparents are tasked with also supporting their own child in mourning, which can cause their grief to become disenfranchised and minimized. This resource is a wonderful paper companion to have nearby during the time when you need a support and an understanding author.
To Dance with White Dog by Terry Kay is a heartwarming book that will keep you invested from beginning to end! This novel tells the story of Sam, an older man with grown children whose wife dies of cancer. Shortly after she dies, Sam finds that a pesky white dog starts showing up at his back door. . .only no one seems to see the dog but him! Sam’s children mean well in looking after him, but they tend to hover. . .and do they ever see the dog? If you could use a laugh, a cry, and a good read, this is the book for you!
In 2006, a tragedy struck our community when an armed man entered an Amish schoolhouse and took the lives of ten children. Jonas Bieler had previously lived in the same Amish community and had lost his own daughter years prior to this catastrophe, so his insight into the aftermath was acute. In Think No Evil, aptly named, Jonas writes about the overwhelming sense of forgiveness, love, and support that emanated from his former Amish community. Jonas came to our center years ago to extend this resource with Leslie, and to share the stories of unity that followed the unthinkable tragedy.
We lost one of the greats in Joan Didion. Loss, however, is a topic that Didion was quite familiar with. In her book The Year of Magical Thinking, Joan openly shares the story of her infant daughter’s brush with death, which surprisingly led into the death of Joan’s husband, and how she chose to find healing. We are honored to carry this book, and Joan’s legacy, on our shelves.
No matter your age, even if you are established in adulthood, losing a parent is painful. The Orphaned Adult by Alexander Levy normalizes the slew of emotions brought on by a parent’s death, whether you were close-knit, estranged, and anything in between. Grab this book off the shelf when you need the support of a peer who is walking a similar path that you are beginning to navigate.
A few years ago, Olivia’s House was contacted by Donald Rosenstein and Justin Yopp, authors of the incredible book, The Group. They were eager to share their resource with us, and we were just as eager to have it in our library and share it with all of you! The Group tells the true story of the two authors co-leading a support group for men who had lost their wives. . .men who were not quite used to sharing their feelings in public space! Over time, this group became tight-knit and relied on each other in their most difficult times. We love the embodiment of bringing people together to heal, and this is an excellent read!
When Patty Dann’s husband was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer, she was overwhelmed with her own feelings of grief, let alone the fear of having to tell their three-year-old son! The Goldfish Went on Vacation: A Memoir of Loss (And Learning to Tell the Truth About it) is an honest, uncertain, and sometimes humorous look at the way Patty navigates her husband’s diagnosis alongside her family.
Edith Eger was only 16 years old when she, her parents, and her sister were sent to Auschwitz Concentration Camp during WWII. In 1945, both she and her sister were recovered together, and began to move forward in life desperate to escape the past. As Edith began to come to terms with her trauma (including learning what trauma was), she started a career studying psychology. Almost 60 years later, Dr. Edith Eger continues to treat patients and speak around the world, sharing the story of how a young dancer from Poland made “The Choice” to survive and thrive, rather than succumb to her trauma.
Did you know that there is a difference between masculine grief and feminine grief? Regardless of gender, we find healing in different ways, and Swallowed by a Snake by Thomas Golden provides a precise look into masculine grief! This is an excellent resource for a person who recognizes the impact that one person’s bereavement can have on the entire family, and how to find healing in unique ways.
For anyone who has had an unexpected loss, Judy Brizendine’s title “Stunned by Grief” seems to encapsulate the experience. This direct yet conversational resource gives real perspective from both Brizendine as well as those who have walked the path of bereavement. It normalizes the occurrences after a loss that tend to “stun,” all while providing tools to help re-map your life and begin the journey of healing.
Still Here with Me by Suzanne Sjoqvist is a book that all bereaved teens and young adults can relate to! Each chapter is told from the perspective of a different person, all sharing their stories of losing a parent as a child or teen. As we are isolated in current times, this book reminds us that our shared experiences can be relatable through the written word.
Do we have any fans of “The Office” in the house? Then Soul Pancake is the book for you! Originally founded by Rainn Wilson (who played Dwight Schrute on The Office), Soul Pancake has grown from this special book into an online organization dedicated to asking real questions and getting real answers! The Soul Pancake book encourages the reader to engage in seeking wisdom and is a thought-provoking resource for the teen in your world.
When comedy writer Carol Scibelli’s husband of 33 years died of cancer after being diagnosed only a month prior, she immediately felt the weight of the word “widow.” What would this mean for her identity? As she traveled along her journey of bereavement, Scibelli shared her memories, experiences, and awkward exchanges, finding humor in the most seemingly mundane parts of healing. “Poor Widow Me” invites the reader to laugh through their tears as they accompany Scibelli through her journey of life, loss, and laughter.
One of the sweetest books in our library is Making Toast by Roger Rosenblatt. His story begins tragically with the death of his daughter, but soon Rosenblatt, AKA “Boppo,” moves in with his grandchildren and becomes more a part of their lives that he could have imagined (so much so that his 2-year-old grandson has a preference toward James Joyce?). Borrow this book today!
Do you ever feel like others are expecting your bereavement process to follow a specific timeline? Those who have experience grief know that healing is not a straight line. Megan Devine’s “It’s OK that You’re Not OK” reminds readers that what works for some, may not work for you, and while you figure out your coping strategies. . .it’s OK that you don’t feel OK!
Author of Cry Until you Laugh Richard Obershaw understands that the number of grief-related resources can be overwhelming for the newly bereaved. This book provides easy-to-read, concise education on what mourning really looks like. If you are a straight shooter, this book is for you!
When Catherine Tidd lost her husband in a tragic motorcycle accident, she was thrown into the world of widowhood while also having to raise three young, bereaved children. With no roadmap to follow, Confessions of a Mediocre Widow tells Catherine’s story of learning to live again. The road is bumpy, and she confesses to making some ‘mediocre’ choices, but she ends up creating an excellent resource for any woman navigating life after loss.
Elaine Alpert’s book, “Beyond the Why of Loss” will resonate with both professionals and anyone who has experienced their own losses in life. Elaine normalizes the “Why” questions that accompany a loss, while bringing the reader beyond those questions and into a place of healing. This is a book that you can return to time and again, remembering that when life shocks you, you are receiving an invitation to heal, and Elaine teaches that we are up to the task of answering this call. A personal friend and colleague of Olivia’s House, we were honored to preview this manuscript and provide a professional review.
Though we know that grief doesn’t happen in “stages,” Claire Bidwell Smith’s Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief shines a light on the experience of anxiety that some may experience very intensely after a loss. Smith is a mental health therapist based out of South Carolina who has done years of research regarding the sometimes-debilitating feelings of anxiety after a loss. Whether it’s anxiety about the loss itself, what the future may hold, or even if you’re not sure why you’re feeling so anxious. . .this is the book for you!
All Death is Loss, but not all loss is death. We teach this concept at Olivia’s House, and Pauline Boss’s “Ambiguous Loss” encapsulates the feelings of grief that accompany these lifecycle losses. If you are experiencing a loss in your life that doesn’t involve death, this is the book for you!