Human beings are amazing; we can learn from almost any situation, including the experience of grief. Yes, of course, grieving is hard on us; it can drive us to our knees and leave us unable to cope. But, scientists and grief experts tell us there's a benefit to grieving: without doubt, it can make us stronger and more resilient. This second recommended reading list (you can review our recommendations for books on grief by visiting our Recommended Books webpage) features books on resilience to help you understand the power for positive change found within the grief experience. All book descriptions come from Amazon or Barnes and Noble; each specific source is noted.
What Doesn't Kill Us: The New Psychology of Posttraumatic Growth
Stephen Joseph, Ph.D.
"For the past twenty years, pioneering psychologist Stephen Joseph has worked with survivors of trauma. His studies have yielded a startling discovery: that a wide range of traumatic events—from illness, divorce, separation, assault, and bereavement to accidents, natural disasters, and terrorism—can act as catalysts for positive change. Boldly challenging the conventional wisdom about trauma and its aftermath, Joseph demonstrates that rather than ruining one’s life, a traumatic event can actually improve it. Drawing on the wisdom of ancient philosophers, the insights of evolutionary biologists, and the optimism of positive psychologists, What Doesn’t Kill Us reveals how all of us can navigate change and adversity— traumatic or otherwise—to find new meaning, purpose, and direction in life." (Amazon)
Bouncing Back: Rewiring Your Brain for Maximum Resilience and Well-Being
Linda Graham MFT and Rick Hanson
"Resilience is the ability to face and handle life’s challenges, whether everyday disappointments or extraordinary disasters. While resilience is innate in the brain, over time we learn unhelpful patterns, which then become fixed in our neural circuitry. But science is now revealing that what previously seemed hardwired can be rewired, and Bouncing Back shows us how. With powerful, time-tested exercises, Linda Graham guides us in rebuilding our core well-being and disaster-proofing our brains. This book won the 2013 Books for a Better Life Acorda Wellness Award and the 2014 Silver Nautilus Book Award." (Barnes and Noble)
Resilience: The Science of Mastering Life's Greatest Challenges
Steven M. Southwick and Dennis S. Charney
"This inspiring book identifies ten key ways to weather and bounce back from stress and trauma. Incorporating the latest scientific research and dozens of interviews with trauma survivors, it provides a practical guide to building emotional, mental and physical resilience. Written by experts in post-traumatic stress, this book provides a vital and successful roadmap for overcoming the adversities we all face at some point in our lives." (Amazon)
The Resilience Factor: Seven Essential Skills for Overcoming Life's Inevitable Obstacles
Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté
"Resilience is a crucial ingredient–perhaps the crucial ingredient–to a happy, healthy life. More than anything else, it's what determines how high we rise above what threatens to wear us down, from battling an illness, to bolstering a marriage, to carrying on after a national crisis. Everyone needs resilience, and now two expert psychologists share seven proven techniques for enhancing our capacity to weather even the cruelest setbacks. Karen Reivich and Andrew Shatté are seasoned resilience coaches and, through practical methods and vivid anecdotes, they prove that resilience is not just an ability that we're born with and need to survive, but a skill that anyone can learn and improve in order to thrive." (Barnes and Noble)
The Resiliency Advantage: Master Change, Thrive Under Pressure, and Bounce Back from Setbacks
Al Siebert, Ph.D.
"Resiliency - the ability to adapt to life's changes and crises - is the key to a healthy, productive life. Unfortunately, it's all too easy to get bogged down by feelings of anger and helplessness. The Resiliency Advantage helps readers banish negative, self-defeating thoughts and break free from the roles of 'victim' and 'good child' while improving problem-solving skills, maintaining humor and optimism during rough times, and becoming both self-reliant and socially responsible. By mastering the five stages of development - sustaining health, energy, and positive feelings; handling challenges; achieving positive self-esteem, self-confidence, and self-concept; honing the skills and attributes of highly resilient people; and developing a talent for serendipity–readers learn to stand up to adversity, overcome obstacles, and meet life head on." (Amazon)
Four Funerals and a Wedding: Resilience in a Time of Grief
"In under a year and a half, Jill Smolowe lost her husband, her mother-in-law, her sister, and her mother. Here she mostly focuses on husband Joe's diagnosis of cancer, his progress through chemotherapy and remission, and his eventual death. In the process of telling her story of love and loss, she reflects on grief—our narratives about grief, our responses to it, and how we recover. Smolowe cites the work of psychologist George Bonanno extensively, and, in sharing her story, offers thoughtful and compassionate guidance for people going through the grieving process with loved ones. Her story is heartbreaking and heartwarming, incisively written and extremely clear. Readers will find themselves sympathetic and eager to hear how Smolowe coped with her losses and how she negotiated societal expectations of grief with grace and dignity. This is an absolute must-read for people struggling with loss." (Barnes and Noble)
Developing Resilience: A Cognitive-Behavioural Approach
"Some individuals emerge from grim experiences stronger in mind and spirit than others who suffered the same fate. In this book, Michael Neenan suggests that it is the meanings that we attach to events, and not the events themselves, that determine our reactions to them; this is why different people can react to the same event in a variety of ways. Developing Resilience shows how people can find constructive ways of dealing with their difficulties by using the techniques of cognitive behaviour therapy as well as listening to the wisdom of those who have prevailed over adversity. This book provides useful guidance and advice on topics including: managing negative emotions, distinguishing between what is within and outside of your control, learning from past experiences, developing self-belief, increasing your level of frustration tolerance, and maintaining a resilient outlook. This book will be essential for anyone trying to find constructive ways forward in difficult times, as well as counsellors, coaches and therapists looking for guidance in helping their clients." (Amazon)
The Truth about Grief: The Myth of Its Five Stages and the New Science of Loss
Ruth Davis Konigsberg
"The five stages of grief are so deeply imbedded in our culture that no American can escape them. But the stunning fact is that there is no validity to the stages that were proposed by psychiatrist Elisabeth Kübler-Ross more than forty years ago. In The Truth about Grief, Ruth Davis Konigsberg shows how the five stages were based on no science but nonetheless became national myth. She explains that current research paints a completely different picture of how we actually grieve. It turns out people are pretty well programmed to get over loss. Grieving should not be a strictly regimented process, she argues; nor is the best remedy for pain always to examine it or express it at great length. The strength of Konigsberg’s message is its liberating force: there is no manual to grieving; you can do it freestyle." (Barnes and Noble)
The Resiliency Workbook: Bounce Back Stronger, Smarter & With Real Self-Esteem
"This one-of-a-kind resource shows you exactly how to bounce back from stress, crises, and all life adversity based on decades of social science research on human resiliency. Nan Henderson has been teaching people around the world how to be resilient for more than 20 years. She believes every person has innate resilience and this book shows you how to tap into it now." (Amazon)
You Don't Have to Go Through this Alone
We know grief can be very isolating; sometimes it seems as if no one understands, and we shy away from speaking to others about our bereavement experience. Fortunately, there are many online resources intended to help grievers renew their enthusiasm for living, including this list of recommended books about resilience and grief. You may also want to review our list of recommended books about grief as well as the other articles in our online grief library.
Should you continue to feel the need for grief support, please call us at (313) 982-1000. We are always here, and would be privileged to help you in dealing with grief.