Tools + Resources
The following books and online resources offer additional support in the areas of Grief & Renewal:
The Scars That Have Shaped Me: How God Meets Us in Suffering by Vaneetha Rendall Risner
Out of everything (excluding Scripture) I read in my grief and sorrow, this was the most helpful. Vaneetha writes from powerful personal experience coupled with Biblical truth to minister to hurting people. The chapters are quite short and allow you to read at your own pace. This is always my first recommendation to Christians going through trials and suffering.
Experiencing Grief by H. Norman Wright
This is a short and simple book that I found helpful in my grief, especially early on. Death, loss, and grief are common threads that sooner or later link us with the loss of someone we loved. In a culture that doesn’t like to acknowledge loss or talk about its deep impacts, Norman provides a helpful guide to understand some of the process of grief and normalcy of grief.
Reflections of a Grieving Spouse by H. Norman Wright
Five years after publishing the book Experiencing Grief, Norman published this book following the death of his own wife Joyce. Even though he had written and counseled others before, the loss of his own spouse deepened his level of vulnerability and emotional insight. In this book, Norman shares his own deeply personal experience and shares how his faith in God illuminated a new and different way forward. I especially liked the questions for reflection at the end of each small chapter as they helped me work through my own grief.
What Grieving People Wish You Knew about What Really Helps (and What Really Hurts) by Nancy Guthrie
This is a very good book to give you loved ones who might be struggling to know what to do and what to say. Drawing from her own life experiences of the death of two daughters and input from thousands of other grievers, Nancy has compiled a very helpful resource for Christians who want to be better friends to those who are suffering. Filled with practical and actionable tips, this book includes examples and helpful perspective from many real grieving people who have been helped, or unintentional hurt, by loved ones who meant well, equipping readers to come alongside and comfort those who are hurting.
It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand by Megan Devine
This book offers a powerful, beautiful, and secular, nonreligious look at grief from Megan’s experience both as a widow and a therapist. It pushes back against many of the myths of grief including stages, timetables, cultural discomfort with loss, and trying to “solve” grief. One of my favorite lessons is that grief is not a problem to be solved, but an experience to be carried. Too many times grieving people carry other pain on top of their actual grief, including the pain of being judged, dismissed, and misunderstood. This book offers helpful perspective for grieving people, those who love them, and all those seeking to understand more about the journey of grief.
When the Darkness Will Not Lift: Doing What We Can While We Wait for God–and Joy by John Piper
Sometimes in the journey of grief, the sorrow of loss can turn into the darkness of depression. In this short book, John Piper examines depression from a spiritual perspective, exhorting and encouraging those that may be struggling to find joy. Later on in my grief journey, I realized at moments in the time of being a caregiver to my wife before Sarah passed away that I struggled with depression and periods of intense spiritual darkness where it felt like God was so far away. This book was a great help then showing me what it meant to wait on the Lord. It also offers helpful guidance for those ministering to others experiencing depression and spiritual darkness.
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis
After his wife’s tragic and untimely death, C.S. Lewis wrote this transparent and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart Christian can lose all sense of understanding in God’s plan when it involves such personal loss and grief. With his customary honest and transparent style, he honestly reflects on fundamental issues of life, death, and faith in the midst of loss. This short but profound book may offer you the opportunity to have one of the best minds and writers of the 20th century find a way to put your grief into words.
Not by Chance: Learning to Trust a Sovereign God by Layton Talbert
While this is not exactly the book to read in the midst of great grief and sorrow, I am thankful that I had read it several times before I lost my wife, and I came back to it again several months after Sarah was gone. This is a deep and theologically rich book that focuses on the question of providence — in other words, is God really in charge and in control of everything that happens? Study of that question raises very hard questions and Layton does not shy away from them at all. This book is rooted deeply in the soil of Scripture and confronts the reader with the words of God regarding the doctrine and application of providence. This books remains one of the most challenging and enriching spiritual books I have read in my life.
Heaven by Randy Alcorn
In a world awash in “spirituality” and misconceptions about life after death, Randy’s book on Heaven cuts through the confusion with a Scriptural look at Heaven. This is a must-read for all Christians and can be particularly helpful for those mourning the loss of their loved one. It helps break through stereotypes, unbiblical imaginations, and questions we wonder to paint a comprehensive and definitive look at Heaven the way Scripture describes it. I loved how this book transformed my own perspective on Heaven and helped me rejoice in Sarah’s gain even as still mourned in my own loss. This book will inspire you to long for Heaven even while your time still remains on this earth.
Alliance of Hope
The Alliance of Hope for Suicide Survivors provides healing support for people coping with the shock, excruciating grief and complex emotions that accompany the loss of a loved one to suicide.
Camp Widow® is a program of Soaring Spirits International. It provides a weekend long gathering of widowed people from across the country and Canada in three locations: Tampa, San Diego, and Toronto. The camp creates a supportive community that understands the life-altering experience of widowhood. Camp Widow® provides practical tools, valuable resources, and peer-based encouragement for rebuilding your life in the aftermath of the death of a spouse… all in a fun, uplifting, laughter filled atmosphere.
Gary Roe – Healing Is Possible
Gary’s website provides a range of resources on grief and healing, including a Good Grief mini-course.
The GriefShare organization is a friendly, caring group of people who will walk alongside you through one of life’s most difficult experiences. You don’t have to go through the grieving process alone. Enter your zip-code on the site to find the local group near you.
Modern Widows Club
A widow mentoring organization with large chapters across the country including: Orlando, North Atlanta, Houston, and Seattle. Modern Widows Club inspires widows to live a life where anything is possible. Moving forward while reaching back.
National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization
If your spouse or partner is/was involved in hospice, this organization offers up to one year of free grief counseling. They also offer community outreach counseling for people whose spouse or partner were not in Hospice but still need grief counseling. Finally, if the counseling offered does not meet your needs, contact the bereavement department of your local Hospice as they are usually happy to help you locate grief services and support in your area that is more appropriate for you.
Soaring Spirits Loss Foundation
SSLF is an inclusive, non-denominational organization focused on hope and healing through the grieving process. This organization is positive and forward thinking, while focusing on offering their members the tools and resources they need to rebuild their lives in the aftermath of the death of a loved one. Camp Widow® is a program of SSLF.
The Second Firsts book is listed above and the Second Firsts website by Christina Rasmussen offers a daily “Message In A Bottle” delivered to your inbox. Action step oriented and highly motivational, Second Firsts provides a scientific and process-oriented approach to releasing pain consciously and methodically by relying on our brain’s ability to give birth to new pathways, new habits and new brain connections.
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)
This website helps military families find links to local support groups including bereavement counseling. Bereavement counseling includes a broad range of transition services, including outreach, counseling and referral services to family members. TAPS partners with the Department of Veterans Affairs, as well as other organizations, to assist the bereaved in finding the counseling services needed.
Widowed Village is an online interactive community that is also part of Soaring Spirits International. It connects peers with each other for friendship and sharing. The moderators, administrators, and others involved in running this site are also widowed. Peer support is an excellent, social way to learn more about living with loss and gain energy and ideas for your path to a new life.