Resources to offer the recently bereaved or diagnosed


When someone is recently diagnosed or bereaved, people in their lives can become frantic to help them "solve" their 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 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. 

Another from Emily McDowell Studio

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 

The Unwinding of a Miracle by Julie Yip-Williams | Memoir written while dying of Stage IV Colon Cancer | Indiebound

Black Widow: A Sad-Funny Journey Through Grief for People Who Normally Avoid Books with Words Like "Journey" in the Title by Leslie Gray Streeter | Partner loss | Indiebound

Modern Loss by Rebecca Soffer and Gabrielle Birkner | Collection of essays on all types of loss 

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

Resilient Grieving by Lucy Hone | child loss | Indiebound

Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief by Claire Bidwell Smith 

The Rules of Inheritance by Claire Bidwell Smith | Parent loss | Indiebound

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

The Long Goodbye by Meghan O'Rourke | Mother loss | Indiebound

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

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

It's OK You're Not OK by Megan Devine | partner loss | Buy it here or at another independent bookseller 

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

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

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

From Here to Eternity: Traveling The World to Find the Good Death by Caitlin Doughty | Death rituals around the world | Indiebound

Salt in My Soul: An Unfinished Life by Mallory Smith | Living with a critical illness (cystic fibrosis) | Indiebound

The Hot Young Widows Club by Nora McInerny | Guidebook for everyone — for those living with grief and the grief adjacent | Indiebound

Once More We Saw Stars by Jayson Greene | Losing a young child in a tragic accident | Indiebound

The Group: Seven Widowed Fathers Reimagine Life | Partner loss from a father's perspective | Indiebound

That Good Night by Sunita Puri | Rethinking end-of-life/palliative care | Indiebound

Dancing at the Pity Party by Tyler Feder | Graphic novel on mother loss | Indiebound

Nobody Will Tell You This But Me by Bess Kalb | Grandparent loss 

Books for Teens

Mick Harte Was Here by Barbara Park | Sibling Loss, ages 10+ | Indiebound

If Only by Carole Geithner | parent loss (book focuses on a daughter losing a mother), ages 10+ | Indiebound

Books for Children

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

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

Michael Rosen's Sad Book by Michael Rosen | any loss, ages 5+ | Indiebound

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

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

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

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

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

I Miss You by Pat Thomas | mom loss, 4-9 | IndieBound

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

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

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

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

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

These Precious Little People by Frankie Brunker | a story on stillbirth, miscarriage, or infant loss for siblings, 3 - 8 | Amazon UK


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.

Sibling Support | Support for young siblings and includes tips for parents


Here For You | father/sibling loss 

Refuge in Grief | partner loss

Glow in the Woods | miscarriage, stillborn and infant loss

Baby Boy Bakery | child loss

The Unexpected Widow | partner loss

DC Widow | partner loss


@survivingoursiblings | sibling loss

@survivingourparents | parent loss

@survivingourchildren | child loss

@survivingourfriends | death of a friend

@hotyoungwidowsclub | partner loss

@optionb | stories of resilience

@slapdstories | stories on parent loss by teens and for teens


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

Sorry To Hear That Podcast by CJ Williams. Stories of loss, sorrow and grief and the small victories that keep people moving forward. 

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. 

Julie: The Unwinding of a Miracle | Interviews with Julie Yipp-Williams in the final months of her life. 

Facebook Grief Groups

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

Grief Beyond Belief | peer-to-peer support for anyone dealing with death who does not believe in an afterlife*

*private group - any posts that you make will not appear on your newsfeed and will only be visible to members of the group.

In-Person Groups with chapters across the country

Compassionate Friends | child/sibling loss

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


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

After Life | A dark comedy following a recent widower, who has taken the liberty of doing and saying whatever he wants following the death of his wife (Netflix)

Fleabag | Life for a women living through the recent deaths of her mother and best friend (Amazon Prime)

Resources for Supporters & Caretakers

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

How to Have a Friend Who is Ill by Sally N. | Practical advice on how to interact and support with a loved one who is sick | blog post

Months to Years | An online journal of creative nonfiction, art and photography with pieces that explore mortality and terminal illness. They will soon have a resource section for partners of the terminally ill. 


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



Back to blog

Leave a comment

Please note, comments need to be approved before they are published.

1 of 3