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On Grief and Gratitude

Books That Help Us Remember Our Impermanence and How to Make the Most of Our Time Here

Trees make great teachers. As the sun fades from its summer ferocity and the nights flirt with freezing digits, trees know it’s time to rest. We have stretched our limbs climbing mountaintops and frolicked in streams during the warm months, and now we can make our way back inside.

With the stillness of approaching winter during COVID, now is the perfect time to gather up an armful of good books to keep our inner landscapes lush. But what to read about? The choices are endless, of course, but the subjects of grief and gratitude seem especially timely.

As the trees lose their leaves, many are still grappling with letting go of their previous lives—of who they were and what they did before the quarantine. It’s a death of sorts, this loss of our former selves. Jobs, school, favorite activities, travel opportunities—we’ve lost a lot this year. Some of us have lost loved ones too, and have had to look death in the face in a way they never have before. It’s here, in our neighborhoods and our families, and we could be next.

When social distancing makes it hard to be close to those we love most, books can give comfort and offer solace. We can learn from them how to better deal with our grief, and, on the flip side, find inspiration for living our lives more fully while we’re still here. Death can bring a new appreciation for life. And as so many spiritual masters and self-help gurus have taught, gratitude can be the key to inner peace and joy.

Here I offer suggestions on books about grief and loss, as well as about gratitude and how to practice it more, and finally, some books about making the most of your life and creating new beginnings.


 Books On Grief

The Year of Magical Thinking, by Joan Didion

 Bearing the Unbearable: Love, Loss, and the Heartbreaking Path of Grief, by Joanne Cacciatore

I Wasn’t Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden

 Death of a Loved One, by Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, PhD

On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Loss, by Elizabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler

 The Orphaned Adult: Understanding And Coping With Grief And Change After The Death Of Our Parents, by Alexander Levy


 Books On Gratitude

Gratitude, by Oliver Sacks

Thanks a Thousand: A Gratitude Journey, by A.J. Jacobs

Living Life as a Thank You: The Transformative Power of Daily Gratitude, by Nina Lesowitz and Mary Beth Sammons

Living in Gratitude: Mastering the Art of Giving Thanks Every Day, A Month-by-Month Guide, by Angeles Arrien

The Gratitude Diaries: How a Year Looking on the Bright Side Can Transform Your Life, by Janice Kaplan


 Books On Living a Better Life

The Book of Joy: Lasting Happiness in a Changing World, by the Dalai Lama and Desmond Tutu

 One Thousand Gifts: A Dare to Live Fully Right Where You Are, by Ann Voskamp

The Little Book of Hygge: Danish Secrets to Happy Living, by Meik Wiking

 The Happiness Project, Tenth Anniversary Edition: Or, Why I Spent a Year Trying to Sing in the Morning, Clean My Closets, Fight Right, Read Aristotle, and Generally Have More Fun, by Gretchen Rubin

Option B: Facing Adversity, Building Resilience, and Finding Joy, by Sheryl Sandberg and Adam Grant

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