Recommended Resources


Loss / Grieving

When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times
by Pema Chodron

Review: This book was recommended to me by a friend who had also lost her mother. It was the best book I could have read after my mom passed. I was also struggling with watching my business fall apart, and life as I knew it was changing rapidly. Pema gave personal stories that really resonated with my struggle and desires to “keep it together” and helped me to realize that it is okay to let things fall apart sometimes.  Rooted in Buddhism with countless lessons in letting go, this book was probably the single most helpful resource, besides my therapist, after my mom passed away.

Amazon Summary: The beautiful practicality of her teaching has made Pema Chödrön one of the most beloved of contemporary American spiritual authors among Buddhists and non-Buddhists alike. A collection of talks she gave between 1987 and 1994, the book is a treasury of wisdom for going on living when we are overcome by pain and difficulties. Chödrön discusses:
•  Using painful emotions to cultivate wisdom, compassion, and courage
•  Communicating so as to encourage others to open up rather than shut down
•  Practices for reversing habitual patterns
•  Methods for working with chaotic situations
•  Ways for creating effective social action

Death / Dying

No Death, No Fear: Comforting Wisdom for Life
by Thich Nhat Hanh

Review: This book dives into the notion that perhaps there is no death. Thich Nhat Hanh is both insightful and inspiring while giving everyday examples of “no death”. Through exploring the notion of our Essence, to explaining the ultimate truth of how waves crash back into the water, into themselves, Nhat Hanh reminds us that there is no end to energy, that we are all eternally connected, and that in a sense, there truly is “no death”.

Amazon Summary: With hard-won wisdom and refreshing insight, Thich Nhat Hanh confronts a subject that has been contemplated by Buddhist monks and nuns for twenty-five-hundred years—and a question that has been pondered by almost anyone who has ever lived: What is death? In No Death, No Fear, the acclaimed teacher and poet examines our concepts of death, fear, and the very nature of existence. Through Zen parables, guided meditations, and personal stories, he explodes traditional myths of how we live and die. Thich Nhat Hanh shows us a way to live a life unfettered by fear.

Also Recommended:

A Grief Observed 
by C. S. Lewis

The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying
by Sogyal Rinpoche

Advice on Dying: And Living a Better Life
by Dalai Lama

Losing a Parent

How to Survive the Loss of a Parent: A Guide for Adults
by Lois F. Akner  (Author) , Catherine Whitney (Contributor)

Review: This book is primarily aimed for adults over 30 years old, and perhaps more relevant for adults in their 40s-60s. I first read it after my dad passed away when I was 22, and at that time wasn’t really able to connect with the stories told. The book is written by a NY therapist who holds group therapy sessions for adults grieving the loss of a parent – and is written based on the stories, struggles, and triumphs of her clients all, except for one, of which are over 30. When I re-read it 10 years later at 32 after losing my second parent, it resonated with me more. It gives some practical, step-by-step advice for moving through grief at the end, but is primarily storytelling throughout the rest – which, based on the stories chosen for the book, actually helped me realize that my story could be a lot worse! Helped to gain perspective while also allowing me to have, own, and release my sadness, anger and other feelings that come along with grief.

Amazon Summary: Many people who usually function well are thrown for a loop when a parent dies. They’re surprised at the complex feelings of love, loss, anger, and guilt, and at the unresolved issues that emerge. Therapist Lois Akner explains why the loss of a parent is different from other losses and, using examples from her experience, shows how it is possible to work through the grief. Anyone who is going through or trying to prepare for this natural, normal, inevitable loss will find How to Survive the Loss of a Parent a powerful, healing message.

Meditation / Consciousness

The Miracle of Mindfulness: An Introduction to the Practice of Meditation
by Thich Nhat Hanh

Review: When we’re suffering great pain, it is even more important to be mindful. Mindfulness draws us back to the present experience and helps us to honor our pain – yet reminds us to let it pass through us rather than suck us in deeper and deeper.  This book does not deal with death or loss directly, but is an intermediate guide to mindfulness. The list of meditations at the end are particularly helpful to focus the practice of cultivating the breath and accessing our true source of spirit and God within.

Amazon Summary: In this beautiful and lucid guide, Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh offers gentle anecdotes and practical exercise as a means of learning the skills of mindfulness–being awake and fully aware. From washing the dishes to answering the phone to peeling an orange, he reminds us that each moment holds within it an opportunity to work toward greater self-understanding and peacefulness.

Also Recommended

Sweeping Changes: Discovering the Joy of Zen in Everyday Tasks
by Gary Thorp

Peace is Every Step
by Thich Nhat Hanh
Be Love Now: The Path of the Heart
by Ram Dass

Grief Support Websites – great resource section and lots of relatable stories on grief

2 comments on “Recommended Resources
  1. Jill Genno says:

    Check out Dr. Alan Wolfelt’s resources through the Center for Loss and Life Transitions. His work is truly amazing. His companioning model is based on the person who is grieving as the expert. They know all the circumstances and all the players. The COPING Centre in Cambridge, Ontario, Canada and Dr. Alan Wolfelt from Fort Collins, Colorado have been my lifeline since my dear husband died over 10 years ago. I will be forever grateful for their insight and companionship on this journey.