How to Help Others


How to Help Others

If you wish me to weep, you yourself must first feel grief. Horace

Note: The books on this page emphasize learning how to help grieving friends or loved ones. There are many books available now about helping grievers. If nothing here speaks to you, please expand your search at large online bookstores.

1.  Barfield, Dana. My Friend Just Lost Her Husband. TBG Publishing, LLC, 2010.  

Edited Product Description:

The loss of her husband has been described as the most difficult thing a woman ever encounters because what was once a source of security, has disappeared into a sense of profound uncertainty. My Friend Just Lost Her Husband provides the tools necessary to rebuild the sense of sustained security that women intrinsically seek. Written as the result of Dana Barfield's years of experience in providing financial advice and management for widows and divorcees, it combines these first-hand shared and observed experiences, with extensive interviews from other women who have rebuilt their lives after the loss of their mate.

My Friend Just Lost Her Husband is unique because it the first financial book to consider topics, though seemingly unrelated to finance, that forcefully impact financial decision making: Changes to her thinking as a result of the loss; how her grieving affects her decision making; who is a trustworthy friend; how and why that friend must help at this time; criteria for obtaining the right financial advice; how and why women find themselves involved in a financial or relational horror story; and dealing with taxes, health insurance and investments.

In clear and simple language, Barfield describes the need for a benevolent friend and guide who has only the well-being of the surviving spouse and family in mind. The author has the moral investment experience to offer solid guidance, encouragement and wise support. He understands the emotional shock and crisis of the sudden death of a spouse, with insight into the issues of vulnerability. Barfield offers safeguards that protect the new widow from the greedy, clever and persuasive offers of help from persons intent on diverting assets from the spouse [and family] into their own accounts through deception.

2. Callahan, Maggie and Patricia Kelley. Final Gifts: Understanding the Special Awareness, Needs and Communications of the Dying. New York: Bantam Books, 1992, 1997.

Written by two hospice nurses, this warm and reassuring book offers compassionate stories of people at the edge of life. When someone we love is dying, it is hard to know what to do or say, but the dying themselves can supply the answers if we are more aware of the special communication.

Through the stories, readers come to appreciate the ways in which the dying communicate their needs, reveal their feelings, describe their glimpses of life on the other side, and even plan for their time of death. Readers gain new insight into the leave-taking process and discover the gifts of wisdom, faith and love that the dying leave for us to share.

I found the following passage especially comforting. I hope you do, too: "The most important thing to remember when a dying person sees someone invisible to you is that death is not lonely. Many people fear that they, or someone they love, will die alone. In fact, what the stories tell us is that they didn't die alone and neither will we. Those who have died before us, or some spiritual beings, will be companions on our journey." Quoted from page 97.

3. James, John W., et.al., When Children Grieve, Harper Collins Publishers, 2002.

From the Publisher: To watch a child grieve and not know what to do is a profoundly difficult experience for parents, teachers, and caregivers. Yet, there are guidelines for helping children develop a lifelong, healthy response to loss.

In When Children Grieve, the authors offer a cutting-edge volume to free children from the false idea of "not feeling bad" and to empower them with positive, effective methods of dealing with loss.

There are many life experiences that can produce feelings of grief in a child, from the death of a relative, a divorce in the family, [or the death of a beloved pet], to more everyday experiences such as moving to a new neighborhood or losing a prized possession. No matter the reason or degree of severity, if a child you love is grieving, the guidelines examined in this thoughtful book can make a difference.

4. Levang, Elizabeth. When Men Grieve: Why Men Grieve Differently and How You Can Help. Minneapolis, MN: Fairview Press, 1998.

From Fairview Press: Insightful text on the unique character of men's grief and how they face loss. Includes poetry and strategies for partners, friends, and relatives.

The book contains personal essays from men about their experience with grief along with the author's own information and observations about the unique ways men grieve and how they differ from the ways women grieve. Straightforward and well-written, Ms. Levang gives a candid and honest portrayal of men and grief. A compassionate resource for male mourners and the people who love them. Five-star reader reviews at online bookstores.


5. Michael, Larry J., Ph.D. A Necessary Grief: Essential Tools for Leadership in Bereavement Ministry, Kregel Ministry, March 2015, Paperback, 176 pages.

Product Description:

Grief is a difficult topic that ministry leaders deal with on a regular basis. Do they have confidence in helping those who are suffering the loss of a loved one? Do they feel equipped to meet the differing needs that occur in the life of a survivor? Can they lead someone through a process of grief reconciliation? Are they able to plan and implement a bereavement ministry in their church or parish? Here is a book that can help leaders in a practical way to minister to those who are grieving. In addition, they will discover essential tools to deal with grief s difficult questions.

Drawing upon his thirty years of experience as a pastor and as a professional grief counselor, Dr. Michael provides a valuable resource for pastors and other grief leaders to use within their churches and organizations, and their surrounding communities. This work is a practical guide that will bring a greater understanding of the impact that loss has upon individuals and will provide competent counsel for ministering to them. In addition, it will equip the leader to implement a ministry of grief education and bereavement within a church or organization.

Valuable insights for grievers and those who minister to grievers. Gets 5-Star reader reviews. 


6. Rovere, Amy. Joel Spector (Illustrator) And Still They Bloom: A Family's Journey of Loss and Healing. American Cancer Society, 2012. 48 pages. Ages 9 and up. For parents, children, counselors and anyone wanting to help grieving children.

Product Description:

Responding to the fact that coping with a parent’s death can be especially hard on young children, this beautifully written and illustrated book is a valuable resource for parents and counselors. Ten-year-old Emily and seven-year-old Ben must deal with the loss of their mother to cancer. Guided by conversations with their father, they embark on a journey of grief and healing, each searching for a path to acceptance. Along the way, both children realize that their mother will always be with them in their hearts. And just as their mother’s flowers had bloomed in the garden, Emily and Ben emerge from the darkness of grief to bloom once more. Using nature as a backdrop for the cycles of life, this moving story emphasizes hope and healing and will connect with all readers who have lost a loved one.

7. Wolfelt, Alan D. Healing a Friend's Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas for Helping Someone You Love Through Loss. Fort Collins, CO: Companion Press, 2001.

This little book offers 100 fresh ideas for supporting a grieving friend or family member. Examples of helping include: buying your friend a blank journal, organizing a tree planting in the loved one's memory, giving a gift certificate to a day spa, and allowing your friend to cry. You can turn to any page and learn how to help your friend right now, today. Concludes with ten essential qualities of a friend to the bereaved.

8. Worden, J. William. Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Professional. Springer Publishing, 4th Edition, 2008.

Below is an Amazon reader review from the
third edition that explains why I chose to include this book in my list of books to help others:

"My mother passed away suddenly this past January. I was going through so many emotions I thought I was going crazy, so someone suggested I get grief counseling, but I'm not the group counseling type. Then someone suggested I get a book and I came across this one and it helped me to understand that everything I was going through was normal. It is amazing how everything in that book pertained to me and exactly how I was feeling. I still have a ways to go but the craziness of it all has subsided and I can better deal with things."

So, in a sense, the woman grieving the death of her mother gave herself grief counseling. If your grieving friend is also not the group counseling type, maybe the book will help you better understand what your friend is going through. You do not have to be a mental health professional to discover effective ways to help. It is well-written and easily read.

Angel Catcher: A Journal of Loss and Remembrance by Kathy Eldon. Chronicle Books, 2007, 128 pages.

Product Description: Over the past decade, this classic work has helped thousands find meaningful ways to overcome the despair of losing a loved one. Now, Angel Catcher has been revised and updated to convey its powerful message of hope to a new audience. Featuring brand new illustrations and a fresh updated look, the tasteful pages of this journal guide the user through the process of mourning and onward to a lasting sense of peace in the face of loss. Written after the author's son was murdered, it makes a thoughtful gift for a grieving friend.


Go to next section: Grief Support Links

The Grieving Heart is getting a new home...
Grief has no timetable, but the launch of a new website does: August 1, 2019.                                                                     
The updated design will be easy to use, secure and mobile-friendly.
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My E-mail:

Christine (at) The Grieving Heart (dot) info 

A Word About E-mail: One way to decrease SPAM caused by Internet bots is to deactivate the live address link. You can still contact me by typing this address into your own e-mail program using @, a period, and no spaces, the standard e-mail format. Thank you.

Note to Visitors:
I read and respond to grief email at the end of each month when I update this site. If you need a more timely response, please visit a well moderated grief healing discussion group. It is free to use and requires registration to participate. I am not part of this group, but certified grief counselors are there to help, support and comfort grievers and those who love them. Because the counselors lost funding for the site, they are grateful for voluntary donations.
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How complicated and individual mending is,
the time required for healing
cannot be measured against any fixed calendar
Mary Jane Moffat
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