Self-help starts with you, though having others to learn from, who understand what you are going through, can add a little wind beneath your wings, yes?
Can't find all the support you need in your local community? There's a world of ideas, inspiration & kindred spirits to be found with the click of a mouse or swipe of the fingertip.
Unfortunately, the world-wide web can feel overwhelming, like a grocery aisle full of too many choices (do we really need that many cereals?). How do you sift through the gush of possibilities to find what you need, whether that’s filling your bowl at breakfast or your soul when you’re a little lost?
The purpose of this webpage is to curate a range of resources that have proven instructive and/or supportive in navigating loss, cultivating joy, and being mindful.
Books, Audio & Video
Books, Audio & Other
Wisdom, strategies, stories, and sometimes-needed uplifting distraction can be found in books & music.
Below you'll find some suggestions.
TED Talks, Video Clips & Podcasts
TED Talks are a great source of insight, inspiration, research, and personal connection.
Below are some recommendations.
“The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of the depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep, loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.”
— Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, author of On Death & Dying
Books, Audio & More
For some of us, books and music are a refuge.
They create a protective space for escape, learning, self-reflection, solace, self-care, and connection with others—wise, witty, diverse, or curiously irreverent writers & creators—beyond our usual circle of relationships.
Curated below are a range of books, audio, and other resources that have proven helpful in living well with loss, working through grief, inviting joy into daily life, and being a force for good in the world.
A Note About These Resources
The purple buttons will take you to Amazon pages to learn more and allow for a quick purchase, if a recommendation seems right for you. This site participates in the Amazon Affiliates program, which may provide a modest commission that helps offset the costs of this site, but do not affect the prices you pay.
That said, please consider supporting your local bookstores, which can order any of these resources for you.
To locate your community bookseller, visit IndieBound.org and try its handy bookstore locater.
The goal is simply to help you narrow the universe of resources & more easily find what will help you.
The Healing Power of Kindness
Charlie Mackesy offers inspiration and hope in uncertain times in this beautiful book, following the tale of a curious boy, a greedy mole, a wary fox and a wise horse who find themselves together in sometimes difficult terrain, sharing their greatest fears and biggest discoveries about vulnerability, kindness, hope, friendship and love.
A Tranquil Fusion of Native American Flute & Strings
With Inner Voices by R. Carlos Nakai, the Native American flautist-composer's cedar flute beckons a return to balance, growth, and healing. The traditional hymn "Amazing Grace," is an aural blessing—it's the song mentioned in Chapter 18 of Grieving Us: A Field Guide for Living With Loss Without Losing Yourself.
Creating Breaks in Grief, Stress & Anxiety
Developed by Jon Kabat-Zinn, author of Full Catastrophe Living, mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) is a clinically proven program that is effective in alleviating stress, anxiety, panic, depression, chronic pain, and a wide range of medical conditions. This powerful program has been distilled into bite-sized guidance you can use daily.
A Writer Who Left Us Too Soon, His Voice is Solace
From a "born storyteller" (Seattle Times), this bestselling book of stories & essays invites us into the miraculous and transcendent moments of everyday life. While Brian Doyle passed away at the age of sixty after a bout with brain cancer, he still reminds us of the exquisite beauty in the ordinary, whether it's the awe of a child the first time she hears a river, or a husband's whiskers that a grieving widow misses seeing in her sink every morning. His voice is knowing and wise.
Poems For the Journey Without a Partner
Thirst is a collection of forty-three poems from Pulitzer Prize-winner Mary Oliver. Grappling with grief at the death of her beloved partner of over forty years, she strives to experience sorrow as a path to spiritual progress, grief as part of loving and not its end.
Healing Grief Can Involve Unexpected Relationships
An instant New York Times bestseller, Helen Macdonald's story of adopting and raising one of nature's fierce predators soared into the hearts of millions of readers worldwide. Aggressive & feral, her goshawk Mabel's temperament mirrors Helen's own state of grief after her father's death, and together raptor and human "discover the pain and beauty of being alive" (People).
Leading Ourselves Back into Life After Loss
In the immediate aftermath of a loss, sometimes it is all we can do to keep breathing. Nobel Prize nominee & Zen master Thich Nhat Hanh guides you through the storm of emotions surrounding the death of a loved one. How To Live When A Loved One Dies offers powerful practices that will help you reconcile with death and loss, feel connected to your loved one long after they have gone, and transform your grief into healing and joy.
The Intersection of Inner & Outer Loss and Renewal
In the spring of 1983 Terry Tempest Williams learned that her mother was dying of cancer. That same season, The Great Salt Lake began to rise to record heights, threatening the Bear River Migratory Bird Refuge and the wild birds that Williams, a poet and naturalist, had come to gauge her life by. Interweaving these narratives of dying, Refuge helps us discover our inclinations toward renewal and spiritual grace.
Finding Kindred Spirits & solace in Poetic Voices
This poetry anthology is the first of its kind, delivering poetry with a purpose. Editor Kevin Young has introduced and selected 150 devastatingly beautiful poems that embrace the pain and heartbreak of mourning. Divided into five sections (Reckoning, Remembrance, Rituals, Recovery, and Redemption), with poems by some of our most beloved poets as well as the best of the current generation of poets.
An Upbeat & Peaceful Piano Collection
Pianist-composer George Winston, in Plains, explores the landscape of the American plains musically while listeners find themselves tapping into and travelling their inner landscape. His "liquid drops of sound" have a peaceful and transformative power as a backdrop for self-care, reflection & remembrance.
Sometimes Love Comes on Four Legs
Our companion animals occupy a unique space in our hearts. When they’re gone, the loss can be devastating. P.S. I Love You More Than Tuna gives us an opportunity to give loved ones or ourselves comfort during the grieving period, when so many of us feel misunderstood after a beloved pet dies. It celebrates the special bonds we forge with our four-legged family members and reminds us their love for us―and ours for them―never ends.
A Helpful Resource For Holidays/Meaningful Days
Here's an eloquent anthology honoring the wonders and challenges of life on earth and celebrating the seasons of our lives. In this richly eclectic collection of poetry, wisdom, chants, prayers, and blessings from truly diverse thinkers and writers around the world, you'll find affirmations of the human journey in all its forms, in all its struggles and glories.
You will lose someone you can’t live without,and your heart will be badly broken, and the bad news is that you never completely get over the loss of your beloved. But this is also the good news. They live forever in your broken heart that doesn’t seal back up. And you come through. It’s like having a broken leg that never heals perfectly—that still hurts when the weather gets cold, but you learn to dance with the limp.”
— Anne Lamott, Author
A Raw & Honest Resource for Dealing with Anxiety
From #1 New York Times best-selling author Jenny Lawson, this book is part therapy, part best friend, part humor, part coloring book. Some of the material is dark, some is light; some is silly and profane and irreverent (yes, Jenny uses some 'colorful' language). There's commiseration and advice and permission to hide "in a pillow fort." She shows us this is life, happening right now, all around, in its messy glory.
Grieving & learning to Forgive Ourselves
This first novel by Anthony Doerr, the Pulitzer Prize-winning #1 New York Times best-selling author of All the Light We Cannot See, offers a heart-touching story and characters full of grief and longing yet replete with grace. In luminous prose, he writes about the power and beauty of nature and the tiny miracles that transform our lives. All of Doerr's works are poignant & beautiful, and this one speaks to the soul in its crooked journey to survive loss.
Another view of How Our Loved Ones Stay With Us
In Signs, Laura Lynne Jackson, a former English Teacher and psychic medium, brings the mystical into the everyday. She relates stories of people who have experienced uncanny revelations and instances of unexplained synchronicity. However you explain these meaningful coincidences, this book is comforting and motivational in asking us to see beyond ourselves to the bigger possibilities of a universe that operates by design.
A Surgeon Explores What it means to Live and Die Well
Medicine has triumphed in saving lives, but in the inevitable condition of aging and death, sometimes the goals of medicine seem too frequently to run counter to the interest of the human spirit. Gawande, a practicing surgeon, argues that quality of life, not just extending life, is the desired goal for patients and families. Being Mortal asserts that medicine can enhance our experience even to the end, providing not only a good life but also a good end.
the Power of Giving to transform others & You
Giving does more than just improve the lives of others. Giving affects our own lives profoundly—from the practical benefits of improved health and meaningful impact in the world to the intangibles of creating feelings of hope and connection with others. In The Power of Giving, the authors show the many ways of giving, beyond time or money, and how giving from our hearts is an essential yet often overlooked human need.
Helping Others on the Edge Can Help Us Hold On, Too
Best-selling author Diane Ackerman used to volunteer every week taking calls on a crisis line. The callers were shocking, funny, stressful, deeply depressed, healing, and inspiring. So, too, was the life in her backyard, where the wild creatures she observed so closely lived their own lives on the edge. In this book, she weaves both worlds together, including her own struggles and moments of joy, taking us deep into the heart of darkness and light.
Finding Hope Even When the World Seems Dark
Despair and uncertainty surround us: in the news, in our families, and in ourselves. But even when life is at its bleakest, Anne Lamott shows how we can rediscover the hope and wisdom that are buried within us and that can make life sweeter than we ever imagined. Almost Everything pinpoints these moments of insight and, with warmth and humor, offering a path forward.
A Tool for Journaling & Self-Exploration
Journaling is not only outlet for emotions & ideas, it taps into the therapeutic benefits of personal or confessional writing to pull out a deeper range of thought, feeling, understanding, and individual expression. Each of 33 cards offers a simple question to plumb the depths of the journaler’s experience to spark self-exploration. It's a great resource for anyone wanting to explore the healing power of daily writing and needing a prompt to get the pencil or pen moving.
A Little Book for Living in the Moment
Offers readers a rare gift: the chance to stop right here, right now and truly celebrate the present moment. Exploring themes such as "adventure in awareness" and "the undeluded self," this simple, motivating guide will help anyone discover, or rediscover, the countless reasons why a life worth living is a life worth enjoying moment by moment.
Poems that Look Through the Difficult, Finding Peace
The Way It Is gathers unpublished poems from William Stafford's last year, including the poem he wrote the day he died, as well as a selection of luminous poems from previous collections. Here you'll find "brave starings off into emptiness"and glimmers of joy in the ordinary. The poet's voice is one of faith in life despite despair and belief in an enduring soul underlying it all—that "invisible thread" that "goes among things that change. But it doesn't change."
Supporting Those We Love at End Of Life
Through their stories we come to appreciate the near-miraculous ways in which the dying communicate their needs, reveal their feelings, and even choreograph their own final moments. Filled with practical advice on responding to the requests of the dying and helping them prepare emotionally and spiritually for death, Final Gifts shows how we can help the dying person live fully to the very end.
An Eclectic & Meditative Listen
Dreams is a soothing and reflective collection from versatile clarinetist, Richard Stoltzman, offering an eclectic mix featuring cuts from composers as diverse as Eric Clapton, Ennio Morricone, John Lennon, Stevie Wonder, Johann Sebastian Bach, and others drawing from classical to jazz, contemporary tunes to lullabies and muscial meditations.
You Reading This, Be Ready Starting here, what do you want to remember? How sunlight creeps along a shining floor? What scent of old wood hovers, what softened sound from outside fills the air? Will you ever bring a better gift for the world than the breathing respect that you carry wherever you go right now? Are you waiting for time to show you some better thoughts? When you turn around, starting here, lift this new glimpse that you found; carry into evening all that you want from this day. This interval you spent reading or hearing this, keep it for life—What can anyone give you greater than now, starting here, right in this room, when you turn around?”
— William Stafford, Poet