Below is a list of reading materials that deal with grief, loss and surviving after losing a loved one to suicide. Books are organized by suicide survivor specific topics.
“But in all of the sadness, when you’re feeling that your heart is empty, and lacking, you’ve got to remember that grief isn’t the absence of love. Grief is the proof that love is still there.” – Tessa Shaffter, Heaven Has No Regrets
LOSS AND GRIEF
After Suicide, by John H. Hewett, published by Westminster Press, Philadelphia, PA (1980). A classic book that is outstanding in describing the experience of grief after suicide and presents positive steps that can help family and friends find strength together as they readjust and return to healthy, productive living. Also included is an anniversary memorial service with a recommitment to life. Goodreads rating 3.37/5
After Suicide Loss: Coping with Your Grief, by Bob Baugher, Ph.D. and Jack Jordan, Ph.D., published by Robert Baugher, Ph.D., 7108 127th Place S.E., Newcastle, WA 98056-1325, (2002). This booklet was written to help you understand some of what you may experience during the next several months. We wrote this booklet with input from suicide survivors, the term commonly used for people who are surviving the death of a loved one to suicide. For now, surviving may seem like the hardest thing you’ve ever done in your life. Goodreads rating 3.63/5
Bruised and Wounded: Struggling to Understand Suicide, by Ronald Rolheiser, published by Paraclete Press, Orleans, MA (2017). This book is directed towards people of faith who have the added burden of wondering about the relationship between someone who takes their own life and God. Goodreads rating 4.39/5
A Long-Shadowed Grief: Suicide and Its Aftermath, by Harold Ivan Smith, published by Cowley Publications, Cambridge, MA (2006). The author guides us on a spiritual exploration of suicide, probing shadows, secrets and silences, and brings us into a helpful light. Goodreads rating 4.11/5
Dying to Be Free, A Healing Guide for Families after a Suicide, by Beverly Cobain and Jean Larch, published by Hazelden Foundation, Center City, MN (2006). With extraordinary courage and compassion, the authors break through dangerous silence, complicated emotions and brutal stigma to offer this gentle, healing guide for family members who have lost a loved one to suicide. Goodreads rating 4.07/5
Healing the Hurt Spirit, by Catherine Greenleaf, published by St. Dymphna Press, P.O. Box 284, Lyme, NH 03768, 603-735-4321 (2006). Daily affirmations for people who have lost a loved one to suicide. Goodreads rating 4/5
Healing after the Suicide of a Loved One, by Ann Smolin CSW and John Guinan, a Fireside Book, published by Simon & Schuster, New York, NY (1993). A very informative book that provides suicide survivors with insights into the emotional responses they may be experiencing. The authors are direct and honest as they offer support, hope and permission to go on with life. Goodreads rating 3.84/5
Mourning after Suicide, by Lois A. Bloom, published by The Pilgrim Press, Cleveland, OH (1986). The author lost her son to suicide. This easy-to-read 24-page booklet is an excellent introduction for someone newly bereaved. It normalizes the grief and the reference to spirituality is gentle and noninvasive. Goodreads rating 3.75/5
Rocky Roads: The Journeys of Families through Suicide Grief, by Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D., published by Chellehead Works, Albuquerque, NM, 505-266-3134 (2010). The grief journey following a suicide loss is not a quick and easy path. Because people are unique, as are the life experiences of individuals, the road can open up in several ways for each person. No one travels the same way, Michelle Linn-Gust, also the author of Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling, guides the family unit with a road map to navigate suicide grief as individuals and also as part of the family unit with the ultimate goal of strengthening the family even after a devastating suicide loss. Goodreads rating 3/5
Silent Grief: Living in the Wake of Suicide, by Christopher Lucas and Henry M. Seiden, Ph.D., published by Bantam Books, New York, NY (1989). A survivor and a psychologist offer support and advice for getting past the grief—and moving on. This book also deals with the multitude of reasons people don’t talk about suicide. One of the author’s, Christopher Lucas, lost his mother to suicide. Goodreads rating 3.87/5
Touched by Suicide: Hope and Healing after Loss, by Michael F. Myers and Carla Fine, published by Gotham Books, New York, NY (2006). In this definitive guidebook, the authors combine their perspectives as a physician and a survivor to offer compassionate and practical advice to anyone affected by suicide. Goodreads rating 4.22/5
LOSS OF A CHILD
A Mother’s Story, by Gloria Vanderbilt, published by Plume, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., New York, NY (1996). Gloria Vanderbilt’s son died by suicide at the age of 22. Her book tells the story of his life and death, and the story of her life and struggle to live on after that death. ♥♥ Goodreads rating 3.64/5
Ben’s Story: The Depression, ADHD, and Anxiety Disorder That Caused His Suicide, by Trudy Carlson, published by Benline Press, 118 N 60th Ave. East, Duluth, MN 55804 (1998). A mother shares the profoundly moving story of her son’s life that illustrates the symptoms of depression and anxiety disorder that led to his suicide death at age 14. The book also includes 17 pages of valuable information useful for recognizing and treating at-risk individuals.
Everything to Live For, by Susan White-Bowden, published by Gateway Press (1993). The author lost her son and husband to suicide. It is a deeply honest, courageous account of what happened and of the painful lessons that came too late to help her son, but that can surely help others. A moving and compelling book. Goodreads rating 4.31/5
My Son, My Son: A Guide to Healing after a Suicide in the Family, by Iris Bolton with Mitchell C. Bolton, published by Bolton Press, 1325 Belmore Way N.E., Atlanta, GA 30338 (1983). A therapist shares the story of the suicide of her son, a compelling, powerful and informative book about suicide, grief, survival and hope that will profoundly touch the heart and provide new insights for everyone. Goodreads rating 4.69/5
Prayers for Bobby—A Mother’s Coming to Terms with the Suicide of Her Gay Son, by Leroy Aarons, published by HarperCollins Publishers, New York, NY (1995). Unable to reconcile his gay sexual orientation with his family’s religious and moral beliefs, Bobby had leaped to his death from a freeway bridge in 1983. He left a daily diary covering the last four years of his life, and along with the companion tale of his mother, Mary, a blue-collar suburban housewife, this book was able to be written. Goodreads rating 4.26/5
Sanity & Grace—A Journey of Suicide, Survival and Strength, by Judy Collins, published by Jeremy P. Tarcher/ Penguin a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc., New York, NY (2006). The author, singer Judy Collins, wrote this book to shed more light upon the dark taboo of suicide. The suicide of her son was devastating beyond words, yet she managed to put everything she knew or read or heard or thought about suicide into words, for her own healing as well as that of others. Goodreads rating 3.96/5
Stronger Than Death, When Suicide Touches Your Life, by Sue Chance, M.D., published by W.W. Norton & Co., New York, NY (1992). A psychiatrist shares the life and suicide death of her only child and her personal struggle to cope with this tragic event. Goodreads rating 4.30/5
Surviving suicide: searching for “normal” with heartache & humor : a mostly true story / by Deena Baxter, published by Herndon, VA Mascot Books (2014) A son gives back the gift of life and launches the author on a mission-a search for normal and who gets to decide. Local author attempts to use humor to illuminate suicide. ♦♦
When Suicide Comes Home—A Father’s Diary and Comments, by Paul Cox, published by Bolton Press, Atlanta, GA (2002). Paul Cox, a truck driver by trade, wrote his first book at night sitting in the cab of his truck, devastated by the suicide death of his son in 1998. This is a man’s book, emotional and candid, full of plain talk and an indomitable spirit.
LOSS OF A PARENT
After a Suicide, Young People Speak Up, by Susan Kuklin, published by G. P. Putnam & Sons, New York, NY (1994). A variety of stories, offering great insight into young people’s experiences and reactions to suicide.
Crossing 13: Memoir of a Father’s Suicide, by Carrie Stark Hugus, published by Affirm Publications, LLC (2008). This story is a captivating coming-of-age story about a 13-year-old girl whose life is instantly altered upon finding her father dead from suicide. Goodreads rating 4.4/5
Dead Reckoning: A Therapist Confronts His Own Grief, by David C. Treadway, published by BasicBooks, a division of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc., New York, NY (1996). A mother’s suicide and how it affected her husband and four children, including the author. Through his own therapy, he comes to understand her depression and how it affected the rest of his family. This openhearted book is an inspiration for all who struggle with unresolved grief.
In Her Wake: A Child Psychiatrist Explores the Mystery of Her Mother’s Suicide, by Nancy Rappaport, published by Basic Books, a member of the Perseus Book Group, New York, NY (2009). In 1963, Nancy Rappaport’s mother died by suicide after a bitter public divorce and custody battle. Nancy was just 4 years old and the youngest of 6 children. Growing up in a blended family of 11 children after her father remarried, Nancy was bewildered about why her mother took her own life and left her behind. Years later, encouraged by her own children’s curiosity about their grandmother and fortified by her training as a child psychiatrist, Nancy began to investigate her mother’s life and the mysteries surrounding her death. ♥♥ ♦♦
Voices of Strength: Sons and Daughters of Suicide Speak Out, by Judy Zionts Fox, RN, LSW and Mia Roldan, published by New Horizon Press, P.O. Box 669, Far Hills, NJ 07931 (2009). The process for this book mirrors the message that the authors’ book gives: that even when you’re faced with a difficult task, one that you don’t think you’re experienced enough or emotionally equipped to handle, you can achieve so much fulfillment from your efforts. Asking for and receiving help from others will all lead you to where you eventually want to be. Goodreads rating 4.05/5
LOSS OF A SPOUSE
Dawning of a New Day, a Journey Out of Darkness, by Carolyn M. Deleon, published by Inkwater Press, Portland, OR (2004). After her disabled husband died by suicide, the author called on her Christian faith to help herself heal.
No Time to Say Goodbye, Surviving the Suicide of a Loved One, by Carla Fine, published by Doubleday, New York, NY (1997). The author shares her own journey of grief following the suicide death of her physician husband. She also integrates the voices of others who have endured the desolation of a loved one’s suicide.
Our Forever Angel, by Barb Scholz, published by 1st Books Library (2002). Barb shares the experience of her husband’s suicide death, what worked and did not work for her to be able to survive. The techniques she used to help her children cope with their loss are extremely valuable.
She Never Said Good-bye, One Man’s Journey through Loss, by Robert Dykstra, published by Harold Shaw Publishers, Wheaton, IL (1989). This book reflects the range of emotions, questions and wrestlings the author, a minister, experienced following his wife’s sudden suicide. While its central focus is grief and loss, it also explores husband/wife relationships, loving and being loved and God’s infinite mercy and pervasive grace.
LOSS OF A SIBLING
Do They Have Bad Days in Heaven? Surviving the Suicide Loss of a Sibling, by Michelle Linn-Gust, M.S., published by Bolton Press, Atlanta, GA (2001). Regardless of age, sibling suicide survivors, the forgotten mourners, will find identity, comfort and encouragement in this poignant recount of the author’s grief journey following her sister’s suicide.
Surviving Bill, by Mike Reynolds, published by iUniverse, Inc., Lincoln, NE (2007). As a survivor of his brother’s suicide, the author knows the pain and confusion attached to loss and the immeasurable ways it changed his life. Going beyond the typical narratives on the five stages of grief, on religion or on counseling, this book shares those “ordinary” moments in his life that moved his healing forward, be they relationships, synchronistic moments or even his love of surfing.
LOSS OF A FRIEND
Living When a Young Friend Commits Suicide—Or Even Starts Talking About It, by Earl A. Grollman and Max Malikow, published by Beacon Press, 25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108-2892 (1999). This book discusses why people commit suicide, how to deal with the various emotions caused by the suicide of someone you know, how to help someone suicidal, religious issues and popular misconceptions about suicide.
When a Man Faces Grief/a Man You Know Is Grieving: 12 Ideas for Helping Him Heal from Loss, by James E. Miller and Thomas R. Golden, published by Willowgreen Publishing, 10351 Dawson’s Creek Blvd., Suite B, Fort Wayne, IN 46825, 260-490-2222 (1998). James E. Miller is a clergyman, grief counselor, writer and photographer. Thomas Golden is a practicing psychologist and writer. This is two books in one: one half is for men who are grieving, with 12 helpful suggestions, each a chapter by itself. The other half is for those who want to understand and help men who are grieving, also in 12 short, helpful chapters.
RESOURCES FOR CHILDREN
After a Parent’s Suicide: Helping Children Heal, by Margo Requarth, published by Healing Hearts Press, Sebastopol, CA (2006). This is a “how-to” guide for parent survivors: how to manage both the immediate and long- term implications of suicide, how to talk to your children, how to see them through the heart-rending anguish to a place of acceptance, healing.
But I Didn’t Say Goodbye: For Parents and Professionals Helping Child Suicide Survivors, by Barbara Rubel, published by Griefwork Center, Inc., P.O. Box 5104, Kendall Park, NJ 08824 (2000). This book offers a practical approach to working with children grieving a death by suicide. Nine chapters include most frequently asked questions, activities, worksheets with helpful discussions and a list of national resources.
Child Survivors of Suicide: A Guidebook for Those Who Care for Them, by Rebecca Parkin with Karen Dunne- Maxim, published by NJ Chapter of American Foundation for Suicide Prevention (1996). This guidebook takes the reader through the first year of questions that a child might ask. The format asks the questions, gives answers and the reasons for the answers. Extremely honest, sensitive, practical and empowering.
GRIEF AND LOSS – NON SUICIDE SPECIFIC
The Grief Club: The Secret to Getting Through All Kinds of Change by Melodie Beattie, published by Hazelden Publishing, Center City, MN (2009). A profoundly personal, powerfully healing book to help readers through life’s most losses including death, divorce and more. Goodreads rating 3.98/5 ♥♥♥ ♦♦
NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCES
Some of our survivors find reading about the afterlife and near death experiences helpful in their grief journey. Below is a list of books they recommend.
Dying to Be Me: My Journey from Cancer, to Near Death, to True Healing by Anita Moorjani, published by Hay House, Carlsbad, CA (2014). An irrefutable account of a woman’s life changing, near death experience that illuminates what awaits us and our loved ones on the other side. Goodreads rating 4.16/5♥♥♥ ♦♦
Dying to Wake Up: A Doctor’s Voyage into the Afterlife and the Wisdom He Brought Back by Rajiv Parti M.D. and Raymond Moody Jr. M.D. Ph.D., Published by Atria Books, Hillsboro, OR (2017) A rare glimpse into heaven, hell, and previous lives—Dr. Rajiv Parti’s near-death experience brought him on a journey through the afterworld, leading to a spiritual awakening that transformed his career, his lifestyle, and his most fundamental beliefs. ♥
Facing Darkness, Finding Light: Life after Suicide by Steffany Barton, Published by Findhorn Press, Rochester, VT (2012). With personal passion and professional integrity, Steffany carefully listens to the voices of departed souls and compassionately speaks to those left behind, building a bridge of timeless love between heaven and earth. Those who commit suicide communicate clearly and lovingly from a place of unconditional Love where their souls dwell on the Other Side. ♥
Ghosts Among Us: Uncovering the Truth About the Other Side by by JamesVan Praagh, Published by Harper One, San Francisco, CA (2009) From a very young age James Van Praagh was aware of a dimension that most of us cannot see, and he has dedicated his life to explaining it to the rest of us. The New York Times bestseller Ghosts Among Us takes us on an incredible journey into the spirit world that brings to light one of our greatest mysteries—what happens to us after we die? ♥ ♦♦
Growing Up in Heaven: The Eternal Connection Between Parent and Child by JamesVan Praagh, Published by Harper One, San Francisco, CA (2012). A heartwarming, visionary confirmation of our deepest hopes and wishes for the children who have gone ahead of us to their great reward.♥ ♦♦
I’m Still with You: True Stories of Healing Grief Through Spirit Communication by Carole Obley, Published by 6th Books (2009). A collection of compelling, true stories of after-death communication from the experiences of psychic medium Carole J. Obley. These inspiring examples open our hearts and minds by convincingly demonstrating how contact with the spirit world can be a catalyst in healing grief. ♥
Journey of Souls Case Studies of Life Between Lives by Michael Newton, PhD., Published by Llewellyn Publications, Woodbury, MN (1994) Learn the latest details and most recent groundbreaking discoveries that reveal, for the first time, the mystery of life in the spirit world after death on Earth―proof that our consciousness survives. ♥
Many Lives, Many Masters: The True Story of a Prominent Psychiatrist, His Young Patient, and the Past-Life Therapy That Changed Both Their Lives by Dr. Brian Weiss, Published by Fireside, Wichita, KS (1988) The true case of the past-life therapy that changed the lives of both the prominent psychiatrist and young patient involved—now featuring a new afterword by the author. ♥ ♦♦
Memories of Heaven: Children’s Astounding Recollections of the Time Before They Came to Earth by Wayne W. Dyer, Published by Hay House, Carlsbad, CA (2015). It seems that infants and toddlers often arrive here with memories of their lifetimes in the spirit world and frequently provide evidence of this to their immediate families. They tell of dialogues with God, give evidence that they themselves had a hand in picking their own parents. Goodreads rating 3.95/5 ♥ ♥ ♥ ♦♦
My Life After Death: A Memoir from Heaven by Eric and Elisa Medhus M.D., Published by Atria Books/Beyond Words, Hillsboro, OR (2015) My Life After Death begins on the tragic day when Erik Medhus took his own life. What follows is a moment-by-moment account of the spiritual life he discovers on the other side—told for the very first time in his own words as channeled by medium Jamie Butler and then transcribed by his mother Elisa. ♥ ♦♦
My Son and the Afterlife: Conversations from the Other Side by Elisa Medhus M.D., Published by Atria Books/Beyond Words, Hillsboro, OR (2013) An emotional journey through grief to healing and skepticism to belief—discover the answers that will change your life forever. ♥
Promised by Heaven: A Doctor’s Return from the Afterlife to a Destiny of Love and Healing by Mary Helen Hensley, Published by Atria Books, Hillsboro, OR (2015) A moving and inspirational memoir of love, loss, and renewal, Promised by Heaven tells the amazing story of how one woman’s near-death experience and glimpse of heaven led her to discover her gifts of healing and share them with the world. ♥ ♦♦
Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife by Eben Alexander, Published by Simon & Schuster, NY, NY (2012). The #1 New York Times bestselling account of a neurosurgeon’s own near-death experience—for readers of 7 Lessons from Heaven. ♥ ♦♦
Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot by Bruce Leininger, Published by Grand Central Publishing, NY, NY (2010). The parents of James Leininger were first puzzled and then disturbed when their two-year-old son began screaming out chilling phrases during recurrent nightmares, such as, “Plane on fire! Little man can’t get out!” The centerpiece of a loving family of three, James was a happy, playful toddler who had only just begun stringing together sentences. Determined to understand what was happening to their son, Bruce and Andrea set off on a journey of discovery that was to rock them to their core.♥ ♦♦
To Heaven and Back: A Doctor’s Extraordinary Account of Her Death, Heaven, Angels, and Life Again: A True Story Summary & Study Guide by Mary C. Neal, Published WaterBrook, (2012). Mary Neal and her husband went on a kayaking trip to Chile with friends. Mary, alone in her own boat, got pinned under water and experienced a near-death experience during which she talked to souls and angels and felt the presence of God. But her work on earth wasn’t complete and she returned. ♥ ♦♦
Your Souls Plan by Eben Alexander, Published by Robert Schwartz, Frog Books, India (2009). Your Soul’s Plan explores the premise that we are all eternal souls who plan our lives, including our greatest challenges, before we are born for the purpose of spiritual growth. Through compelling profiles of people who knowingly planned the experiences mentioned above, Your Soul’s Plan shows that suffering is not purposeless, but rather imbued with deep meaning.♥
If you have lost a loved one to suicide, you are not alone. There are local resources to help you move toward healing.