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Where to turn for comfort and support

Posted by Kellyn Shoecraft on

 Updated: January 4, 2019

When you are recently diagnosed or bereaved, people are frantic to help you solve your problem. This is well-intentioned but can often be annoying. Especially when advice comes from the 'Solutions People.'

When my mother-in-law’s breast cancer returned for the third time in 2009 (and was stage IV) - I was living many states away and in my desperation to be helpful I kept sending her cookbooks with names like “Cooking with Cancer.” I was a student and used my academic library privileges to send her countless articles on breast cancer. If the article had the words ‘breast’ and ‘cancer’ in the synopsis, it most certainly landed in her inbox. I'm pretty sure I sent her random cancer articles too. I’m sure she was rolling her ideas and hitting delete. 

Image from Emily McDowell Studio, one of the cards in her Empathy Line

I wanted to be able to contribute whatever I could towards her health, and my helplessness left me frantic, clinging to the smallest ideas and pushing them her way - and likely overwhelming her.

While uninformed medical advice is rarely appreciated, resources on where to turn can most certainly be helpful. It's most useful to have them when you are ready to access them and not to have them stuffed down your throat (or in my mother-in-law’s case, in her mailbox). 

If you find yourself in the position of trying to support someone who is sick or bereaved, it can be helpful to pass along resources digitally (so that it can be searched for later in the email archive), but be sure not to bombard the person with numerous emails oozing with solutions/answers/studies/recipes/etc. 

I’ve been reading about grief pretty consistently since my sister died. Here I will include a list of the books, websites, and online communities that have been helpful to me as I continue to struggle with the realities of her early death. I will include the author’s loss, but these books are universal and for many of the books, the author's experience may not be the primary narrative. In short, whether you have lost a similar person or not, all of these resources are valuable.

Many of these blogs/groups/podcasts have their own recommendations that you will discover with a little bit of searching. There are many resources out there, and what you find comforting/helpful varies from person-to-person. Some people like humor, some people like faith, other people like a little of everything. Do not be discouraged if the first few things you pick are not what you need. If you have recommendations of the resources that have helped you, please include them in the comments.


  • The books and resources listed here are not faith-based. 
  • I will continually add to this list as I come across more resources - check the updated date at the top of the page.

Books for Adults 

Modern Loss by Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner | parent loss | Indiebound/Amazon

The Dead Moms Club by Kate Spencer | mom loss | Indiebound/Amazon 

Resilient Grieving by Lucy Hone | child loss | Indiebound/Amazon

Poor Your Soul by Mira Ptacin | in utero loss & child/sibling loss | Indiebound/Amazon

Comfort: A Journey Through Grief by Ann Hood | child loss | Indiebound/Amazon

The Still Point of the Turning World by Emily Rapp Black | child's terminal diagnosis (Tay-Sachs) | Indiebound/Amazon

It's OK You're Not OK by Megan Devine | partner loss | Indiebound/Amazon

Her: A Memoir by Christa Parravani | twin sister loss | Indiebound/Amazon

There's No Good Card for This by Kelsey Crowe and Emily McDowell | a great book for friends and family who want to support a loved one in need | Indiebound/Amazon

An Exact Replica of a Figment of My Imagination by Elizabeth McCracken | stillborn | Indiebound/Amazon

Wave by Somali Deraniyagala | multiple family losses & Natural Disaster | Indiebound/Amazon

Books for Children

Lifetimes: The Beautiful Way to Explain Death to Children by Bryan Mellonie | any loss, ages 5+ | Indiebound/Amazon

Something Very Sad Happened by Bonnie Zucker | any loss, but the illustrations show a woman with a child talking about the loss of someone else, ages 2-4 | Indiebound/Amazon

Missing Mommy by Rebecca Cobb | mom loss, ages 5+ | Indiebound/Amazon

Saying Goodbye to Daddy by Judith Vigna | dad loss, ages 5+ | Indiebound/Amazon

Goodbye Mousie by Robie Harris | pet loss, ages 4-9 | Indiebound/Amazon

Samantha Jane's Missing Smile by Julie Kaplow and Donna Pincus | dad loss, ages 5-9 | Indiebound/Amazon

The Goodbye Book by Todd Parr | any loss, 4-9 | Indiebound/Amazon

I Miss You by Pat Thomas | mom loss, 4-9 | Indibound/Amazon

A Terrible Thing Happened by Sasha Mudlaff | for a child who has witnessed trauma, ages 4-8 | Indiebound/Amazon

Rudi's Pond by Eve Bunting | friend loss, ages 4-8 | Indiebound/Amazon

The Scar by Charlotte Moundlic | mom loss, ages 5-9) | Indiebound/Amazon

Sammy in the Sky by Barbara Walsh | pet loss, ages 5-10 | Indiebound/Amazon

The Rabbit Listened by Cori Doerrfeld | empathy, ages 4+ | Indiebound/Amazon


Modern Loss | Collection of Essays, resources and advice on navigating life after loss      

What’s Your Grief | Grief exploration and education - content created by two mental health professionals.


Here For You | father/sibling loss ← have to do a personal plug!

Refuge in Grief | partner loss

Spohrs are multiplying | child loss 

Baby Boy Bakery | child loss

The Unexpected Widow | partner loss

52 beautiful things | father loss


@survivingoursiblings | sibling loss

@survivingourparents | parent loss

@hotyoungwidowsclub | partner loss

@anjalipinto | husband loss

@noraborealis | husband/father loss

@optionb | stories of resilience

@katebowler | stage IV colon cancer diagnosis

@mollyrosenguy | father loss

@cupofstarlight | infant loss

@thatgoodgrief | parent loss (both parents)


Terrible, Thanks for Asking by Nora McInerny. Authentic answers through stories to the question, "How are you?"

What’s your Grief Podcast | Honest conversations on grief - topics include: Surviving the Grief of an Overdose, Continuing Bonds with Deceased Loved Ones, and The Guilt of Feeling Better. 

Grief Out Loud | The Dougy Center's podcast. A mix of personal stories, tips for supporting children, and interviews with grief professionals.

Sunday Mourning | Claire Bidwell-Smith (author and grief counselor) explores various topics on grief (holidays, and the afterlife are two of the topics she discusses). 

Griefcast | Comedians talk about grief. Based in the UK.

The Widowed Parent Podcast | A guide to "only parenting" after the loss of a partner. A place for information, advice and experts for those who are unexpectedly parenting alone. 


Modern Loss | any loss

The Compassionate Friends | 20+ groups for all sorts of losses - from suicide to baby/toddler loss to grandchild loss. Catered towards parents of children (any age) and adult siblings.

Hot Young Widows Club partner loss

Motherless daughters | mother loss

In Person Groups with chapters across the country

Compassionate Friends | child/sibling loss

The Dinner Party | in-person meetups for people in their 20s and 30s who have experienced loss


Sorry for your Loss | The experience of a young widow (Facebook Watch)

*The post contains affiliate book links. Here For You may earn a small comission on sales that originate from the links above. Thank you for considerig a purchase that would support the work we do. 



Here For You offers a thoughtful selection of Compassion Packages to send to family and friends living through life's toughest transitions. Our practical gifts range from curated household essentials to customizable sets of self-care items, all prepared with a personal touch.


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