Parental Grief

You may order these or any other books by clicking on the links provided below. Books ordered by entering through this page will help support The Compassionate Friends of Atlanta. You will also receive a discount from the list price on many books by ordering online. If you have read a book that you would recommend we include on this page, please email.

A Broken Heart Still Beats: When Your Child Dies 
by Anne McCracken (Editor), Mary Semel (Editor) 

Review by reader from Minnesota , December 13, 1998. 
Outstanding & realistic book about sensitive subject matter. What a wonderful book! I have read several books within the last 3 years concerning child loss (I lost my 12 year old son Paul to a brain tumor in 1996) and each book seems to be another prescription on how to overcome grief. This book acknowledges the ongoing pain and makes one feel not so alone as it connects us with people through the ages who have experienced our loss. It is upliifting in many ways and yet very "nuts and bolts" about life, loss, and continuing on with life. Bravo!!! 


Every Step of the Way: How Four Mothers Coped with Child Loss (Paperback)
by Yvonne Lancaster (Author), Anne Dionne (Author), Deborah LeBouf Kulkkula (Author), Jane Maki (Author) 

Book Description

We came together as complete strangers, bonded by our compassion and caring for one another. We are the parents of children who have died before us. Our mission is to share our experiences during our grieving through our personal journeys. We know, firsthand, through the pain and separation of losing a child, that survival is possible, even through the darkest days of bereavement. Collectively, we have found that through love, helping ourselves, reaching out to others, and living a full life through acceptance, faith, and forgiveness, we have been able to move forward. We hope you, or someone you know who has lost a child, will come to a greater understanding knowing you are not alone in your grief or coping with your loss. Our hope is that we can give you the strength, the inspiration, the optimism, and the courage to know there are many different ways to cope—and finding one’s way along the path takes time. 


Love Never Dies: A Mother's Journey from Loss to Love
by Sandy Goodman (Hardcover - March 2002) 

Having someone you love die, whether expected or unexpected, is perhaps the most trying, and painful situation we face in life. In her book Love Never Dies, Sandy Goodman walks right past all the analytical, psychological lingo to, as John Edward, renowned psychic medium put it – “light a path of understanding through the darkness of loss.” Sandy Goodman has turned her personal journey following  the tragic death of her 18-year-old son into a valuable guide destined to help all...

I Have No Intention of Saying Good-Bye: 
Parents Share Their Stories of Hope and Healing After a Child's Death
by Sandy Fox 

Book Description
Five or more years after the death of their children, 25 families open their hearts and share stories of courage, hope and their attempts to make sense out of the most unbearable loss of all. What did they do to move on with their lives, to make each day meaningful again, to remember their child? In addition to helping themselves, learn how these parents help others and what advice they give to those still having difficulty living in a world without their child. 


Help Your Marriage Survive the Death of a Child
by Paul C. Rosenblatt 

Many parents who have experienced the death of a child struggle with painful and at times overwhelming marital problems. Grieving can create great marital distance, and it can magnify those problems that existed before the child's death. Grieving parents often fear that divorce is a real possibility. This book can help. 

Article: Grief and Intimacy

Letters To My Son 
a journey through grief
by Mitch Carmody

"Letters to My Son a journey through grief." This is a very powerfully written book about death, grief, loss and recovery, hope and a stalwart belief in miracles. Authored by a grieving father whose 9-year-old son died following a two-year battle with a recurring malignant brain tumor. During the months that followed his son's death, the author wrote letters and poems to him posthumously as a catharsis for his grief. A compelling story of love, loss and recovery that will grab your heart, nourish your soul and open your eyes. A must read for anyone who has experienced a great loss and is trying to find some path out of the darkness of their despair. Beautiful poems and illustrations by the author are woven throughout the text. This is not just a grief book for parents who have lost a child; it is for anyone who has experienced a loss. Not only can it be helpful those experiencing grief it is a  moving experience for anybody who opens the pages.~~~~~ "I have learned that there is life after death on both sides of the  equation, when faith is the common denominator. We can substantiate our lost loved one's life by the way we live ours." Mitch Carmody 

Book Review and Editorial Review

  Companion Through the Darkness : Inner Dialogues on Grief
by Stephanie Ericsson

As a result of her own experience with many kind of loss, Stephanie Ericsson offers an intimate, profoundly touching guide for those in grief, legitimizing the complex and often taboo emotions we all feel when loss transforms our lives. In Companion Through the Darkness, Stephanie Ericsson defines grief as "the constant reawakening that things are now different." Using a very simple format--which combines excerpts from her own diary writings with brief essays--she vividly speaks the language of loss and captures the contradictory, wrenching, and chaotic emotions of grief. 

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Why Are the Casseroles Always Tuna : A Loving Look at the Lighter Side of Grief
by Darcie D. Sims
Sacred Wound : Healing from the Death of a Child
by Lois Gold

“THE SACRED WOUND, Healing From the Death of a Child” is by Lois Gold. Her daughter died in an airplane crash at 16 years of age.
Lois is a therapist and searched through many cultures for meaning
to the death. None of her therapy study or work had prepared her for
her reactions or the grief she felt. She tells us that the book was a means of healing for her. 

Book Review and Editorial Review

A Mountain Too Far : A Father's Search for Meaning in the Climbing Death of His Son
by Karl H. Purnell

“A MOUNTAIN TOO FAR, A Father’s Search for Meaning in the Climbing Death of His Son” is by Karl H. Purnell and is his story of his
attempt to understand why his son, who died in a fall, loved climbing so much. One of his comments is, “There are so many people lost when
a son dies.” He finally decides that, “If you really loved the person who is now gone, don’t confuse yourself by trying to find out why it happened or who should be blamed.” He came to feel that his son is not lost and that death is only another state in the endless cycle of life and says, “When you learn that, you will understand the meaning of what happened.” 

Gili's Book: A Journey Into Bereavement for Parents and Counselors
by Henya Kagan Klein

Reviewer: June P. Gibbs from Knoxville, TN USA
A friend who, like myself and Dr. Kagan Klein, lost a childgave me her copy of Gili's Book to read. My 14-year-old daughter Casey died in a car wreck four years ago. I have read so many books in the past four years, and many of them have been very good books. But none compares to Gili's Book. There are so many similarities in the feelings Dr. Kagan Klein expresses -- and the feelings I "feel."... 

In addition to her personal insights, Dr. Kagan Klein shares... eight typical reactions in cases of sudden death. These describe my experiences so well.

I think that only another parent whose child has died knows how it really feels. Dr. Kagan Klein KNOWS, and that's something that sets her book apart. She speaks to us and for us.

I thank Dr. Kagan Klein for writing this book and helping other moms like me. END


  Today I Smile
by Diane Wattles

"Mrs. Wattles, there is never an easy way to say this. There's been an accident. Your daughter was killed." The author's story is one of grief and the struggle to resume life after the loss of a child.

Mandy, a recent high school graduate, had spent the last 30 days trying to regain her life. She had just completed a recovery program for addiction when the two-car accident took her life. How does a parent accept death of a child who has just shown renewed excitement and hope in life?

  Children of The Dome by Rosemary Smith 

Book Description This is an inspiring, moving, and spinetingling read for those who have experienced tragic bereavement, as well as those who have not. It is a collection of true stories of families who have lost children to an early death. These families have learned to survive and work through their grief, and many of them have been transformed professionally and spiritually by the experience.

Book Review by Teal Snapp, TCF Atlanta

Touching the Edge:
A Mother's Spiritual Path from Loss to Life
by Margaret Wurtele (Author)

From grief to growth after a son’s death

In August 1995, Margaret Wurtele got the worst news any parent can receive: Philip, her twenty-two-year-old son, had just died in a climbing accident on Mount Rainier. At the time, Wurtele was absorbed in an intense midlife spiritual awakening. Suddenly she felt betrayed by the God she had only just embraced. In this beautifully written memoir, Wurtele takes us along on her spiritual journey in the aftermath of Philip’s death. With a novelist’s eye for detail, she conveys the dark nights of the soul and the crises of faith she experienced—as well as the love of family, friends, and community and the prayer that helped her move back from the edge of grief to find a rekindled and more meaningful spiritual life. For every woman—and for anyone faced with a personal tragedy or crisis of spirit—this heartfelt, exquisite, and wise book offers hope and comfort. 

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Good Grief: Healing Through the Shadow of Loss
by Deborah Morris Coryell 

Book Review by Meg Avery

Permanent Heartache: Portraits of Grief, Hope, Survival and Life After Homicide by Marcella Hammett 

Permanent Heartache contains twenty-two testimonials from survivors themselves. In their own words they memorialize their loved ones and describe an unenviable transformation. You will learn the totality of a loss through violence is far greater than the deaths of the victims. With time periods ranging from one to eighteen years after the loss, survivors take you through the stages of shock, rage, hope, healing, and in some cases even forgiveness.

Fireflies by David Morrell

Fireflies is author David Morrell's account of the death of his fifteen-year-old son, Matthew from a rare form of bone cancer. Morrell, the suspense novelist who created the Rambo character, has used his creative talents in Fireflies to create a unique blend of truth and fantasy.

The book factually lays out the details of Matt's death and its impact on Morrell and his family. But Morrell also interjects a layer of fiction. The fictional element in Fireflies plays off a fantasy that many bereaved parents have embraced at one point or another: an imagined effort to change the single intolerable fact of your child's death. In the book, Morrell as an old man travels back in time to the final weeks of his son's life. He embarks on a desperate struggle to alert Matt's doctors to the boy's worsening condition. That portion of the book reads as a taut suspense novel, and I found myself hoping against hope that Morrell would succeed in accomplishing the impossible. 

Morrell is clearly a gifted writer. The book evokes the pain of parental grief in vivid and wrenching descriptions, including many passages about the disabling physical effects of grief. But perhaps the most important contribution of Morrell's book is its account of the author's own personal journey from despair to acceptance. Central to that journey is Morrell's openness to spiritual signs from his son and his willingness to believe that human life is part of an eternal and universal energy that doesn't stop at death. As Morrell tells it:

One day, about four years after his death, I surrendered. I stopped dwelling on the past. I accepted the present, the after_Matt present. The day I came to terms with the fact that life would never be as it was, that it had changed and transformed - that was the day I began to heal. Because I came to believe in what Wolfe and Whitman had written about. "All goes onward and outward, nothing collapses and to die is different from what any one supposed."

Fireflies was first published in l988 but was re-release last year. Bereaved parents should be grateful. The book is engrossing and wise at the same time.

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~book review by Barbara Atwood, TCF, Tucson, AZ

Stephen's Moon: A Mother's Journey Through Grief 

by Marcia H. Carter 

Book Description On April 13th, 1997, a tragic accident claimed the life of an eighteen year old boy. He lives on in his mothers heart. From the depths of depression and despair to the inspiring last chapter, A Year and a Half Later, this is a journey you won't want to miss. The road through devastation, anger and soul searching leads to a place of peace, where the author acknowledges that her smile is a gift from God and vows to let that smile be a testimony to others who have suffered loss.

About the Author Marcia Carter, a native Georgian from the Atlanta area, is an accomplished and gifted writer. Marcia's gifted writing style captures the readers attention from the beginning and doesn't let go until the very end. 

A Mother's Grief Observed :
A Personal Account of How God Brought Hope and Healing Following the Devasting Loss of a Son 
by Rebecca Faber 

Rebecca Faber learned about grief when her toddler son drowned in the family pool. She offers you her experience in the hope that it can help you is your journey toward a God whose love is indeed stronger than death.

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Remembering With Love : Messages of Hope for the First Year of Grieving and Beyond by Elizabeth Levang, Sherokee Ilse 

A truly liberating book/ an excellent source of support Having struggled with many confusing feelings for a year and a half after the sudden death of my beloved 19 year old son, I found this book by accident while browsing through a bookstore in San Francisco in 1993. From the moment I picked it off the shelf I drew comfort from the many short stories of people like myself who are experiencing feelings of total devastation, anger (particularly at God), loneliness, numbness and guilt for not being able to get control of my feelings. To see these feelings verbalized by others, made me realize that not only is it okay to have these feelings, but it is also normal. To be told that I have a RIGHT to be angry, lonely, numb and anything else I may be feeling, freed me from my guilt. I lost my son. I have every right to grieve. And to grieve, any way, and for as long as I need to. A truly liberating book. It still sits out on my table for me to use when I am down on myself. I have recommended it to many people. Save 20%

After the Darkest Hour the Sun Will Shine Again : A Parent's Guide to Coping With the Loss of a Child
by Elizabeth Mehren

A reader from California , November 29, 1998 
This book has been a great comfort after my son died. This book has many different stories of parents struggling to go on after losing a child. I lost a 17-yr-old this year in a car accident and, with that death, I have felt separated from the everyday lives of my friends. I might as well be living on another planet. The stories in this book help me remember that my experience is not unique and, unfortunately, will be repeated by others. There is consolation in knowing that parents do survive this loss and that we still would not have missed being part of our children's lives even if it means going on without them now.

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When There Are No Words : Finding Your Way to Cope With Loss and Grief
By Charlie Walton 

This book describes that terrible moment when you desperately want to say something to console a friend or loved one and no words seem appropriate. This book is a conversation between a sensitive, articulate victim of sudden, tragic loss, and any person struggling to endure the numbing first hours and weeks of a life catastrophe. The book is helpful in families, friends, counselors, and supporters of the persons retrieving their life and purpose. When There Are No Words helps you find the path through grief and understand that loss is part of life.

Interview with the author

Swallowed by a Snake : The Gift of the Masculine Side of Healing
by Thomas R. Golden 

Most of the books that I have read about men’s grief tend to paint a stereotypical one-dimensional picture of how men cope with their loss. Finally someone has taken a more even-handed approach and I found this to be a very worthwhile read. Not only would it be appropriate for men but it seems that it could be equally effective for women who would like to know more about what their husbands, brothers and male fellow grief travelers might be experiencing.

One of the more refreshing aspects of the author’s approach is that whenever he defines the masculine side of grief, he is careful not to limit the description to his observations. He is careful in choosing words and phrases such as "many men" or "most men" instead of "all men". This allows the reader to relate to the description when it applies without being turned off when it doesn’t. Personally I think this approach engages a wider audience and I believe this is something that is sorely needed.

It also seems to me that the author is particularly talented in his use of storytelling to illustrate or highlight certain key points. The title is inspired by a story of a man coping with his personal dilemma when he finds himself inside of a snake. His resolution to the situation is so similar to working through one’s grief that it really resonated with me.

Highly recommended for those who want to explore the masculine side of grief.

~submitted by Pat Malone, Lawrenceville, Ga

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Packing for the Big Trip : Enhancing Your Life through Awareness of Death
by Charlie Walton

It is fitting to place a review of a book by Charlie Walton on the TCF, Atlanta Area Chapters, website. Walton, an Atlanta writer, often attends one of the Atlanta Area's Compassionate Friends meetings, and, whenever he is present, he offers caring, insightful comfort to grieving parents. His kindness and his wisdom also spring from the pages of Packing for the Big Trip

In this book, Charlie Walton confronts the question: "Will you be ready for death when it happens to you?" Packing for the BigTrip is not targeted only at bereaved parents, but it is a great guidebook for anyone who can abandon his or her fear of death for long enough to consider what needs to be done to get ready for the final moment. 

Do not be concerned for even a moment that this book will get you down. On the contrary, it is positively uplifting. Charlie Walton writes just like he is having a conversation with you, one of his next-to-best friends (his wife Kay receives, and deserves, the "best friend" accolade). With gentleness and realism, Charlie tells you what he has learned about death from historical, religious, and personal perspectives. He suggests all sorts of ways that all of us, can be ready for death to happen -- approaching the process of dying; planning our funerals in detail; getting our legal and financial affairs in order; and, most important, squaring up our relationships. Speaking of his own funeral plans, Walton describes the "dress code" as everyone in attendance dressed in their most comfortable clothes, whether sweats, pajamas, or soft old shorts (no neckties allowed!). He also includes his son Don's Last Will and Testament -- a lively, loving expression of the soul of a 19 year old preparing to leave home for the first time. 

Walton keeps this book simple and straightforward. He writes chapters about "The Death Rate is 100%; "The Myth of the Good Death;" and "A Better Place to Be?" He discusses the importance of living caught up, and of being spiritually ready. A favorite chapter is called, "Eat the Dessert First." Its theme is a keen reminder that tasting the sweetness, joy, and fun of life with the people we love is the most meaningful way to get packed for the big trip. 

Walton zooms in on a serious topic with wry good humor. When you have smiled your own way through this wonderful book, you will know that Charlie Walton is a good next-to-best friend to have. After reading Packing for the Big Trip, you will want to send a copy to your family members, your preacher, your doctor, and your best friends. 

~Anne Meroney~
TCF Atlanta

The Bereaved Parent 
by Harriet Sarnoff Schiff, Sarnoff Schiff 

A reader from Panama , October 26, 1998 sanity-saving!!

When our son died in 1978, this book was the first thing I read that was an honest portrayal of what it really feels like. I began to understand that the Hell we were living in was the Hell of any parents who were trying (with every ounce of strength) to survive the death of a child. There is nothing that will erase the pain but this book made me understand the necessity of grieving --in my own time and in my own way! It made me realize that my grief (as a mother) was no more or less than my husband's (as a father); but it was VERY different. This book was responsible for helping me realize that perhaps we could keep our marriage and family together and move forward and have happiness. The pain is still part of my life but so is joy. I'm grateful for this book and have shared it (over the years) with others.

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When the Bough Breaks : 
Forever After the Death of a Son or Daughter
-- Judith R. Bernstein, Nora Donaghy (Editors)

Bernstein argues that parents don't recover from the death of a child so much as they adapt to it, forever altering the way they think and act--often with negative consequences. To provide some understanding of this complex situation, she interviewed 55 parents whose children had died. This research, plus her own experiences (Bernstein's son died when he was 25), allows her to examine the various stages of grief, the mourning process, the effects on family and social relationships, and the emotional differences between facing a sudden death (such as a murder) and an anticipated death (such as a terminal illness). She also probes the different ways men and women tend to mourn. This can cause problems, especially when a husband's comparative reticence makes a wife believe that he's relatively unaffected by the death of their child. Compassionate and revealing, it should aid both mental-health professionals and parents dealing with this kind of devastating loss.

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How to Survive the Loss of a Child : 
Filling the Emptiness and Rebuilding Your Life
by Catherine M. Sanders

Parents who suffer the death of a child must endure excruciating grief, and they often need help to reach the final stage of healing and renewal. Writing from personal experience and with professional expertise, Dr. Catherine M. Sanders provides a healing guide for one of life's most devastating experiences. Dr. Sanders explains the grieving process with compassion and insight. She also advises other family members and friends in how to assist the grieving parents and to cope with their own sense of loss. 

I have read every book I could find after losing my 24 yr old son this past Easter in an auto accident. Of the many, many I have read two stand out. "How to Survive the Loss of a Child" by Dr. Catherine Sanders is written by a mother who lost her 19 year old son and who is also a well respected psycologist having won awards for her previous book on grief. She truly understands.

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TCF Atlanta| Suggested Reading | After Death Communications
Parental Grief | Sibling Grief | Suicide | Children's Section | Reflections