Jayson Greene lived through every parent’s worst nightmare: the loss of a child. In Once More We Saw Stars, he recounts the tragic death of his daughter, Greta, and how he and his wife found the courage to move forward in the wake of unimaginable grief. It’s a wrenching yet beautiful read that will have you and your book club marveling at the resilience of the human spirit.
On his heartbreaking journey, Jayson encountered many people and resources that helped him cope with his grief. Below is a list of podcasts, self-help books, and even a novel that he found particularly helpful. Read on to learn about them in the author’s own words.
Finding Meaning: The Sixth Stage of Grief by David Kessler
David Kessler is a world-renowned grief expert, and his writing makes hard truths sound simple, even beautiful. Somehow, reading David, you understand that whatever you are feeling is okay, no matter how awful it seems. He demonstrates this beautiful gift even when he is the one grieving. In his newest book, he talks about how to find meaning from the death of a loved one while he processes a deep loss of his own: the sudden death of his son.
Everything Happens with Kate Bowler
Kate Bowler is a writer and a historian who also hosts a luminous podcast called Everything Happens. The title refers to that old adage “Everything happens for a reason,” which is something Bowler was told after she received a diagnosis of Stage IV cancer at age thirty-five. On her podcast, she interviews people at all kinds of intersections of life and death: the interview with the pediatric oncologist made me particularly teary. If you need some forceful reminding of the good in life, listen to these. One bad weekend, I tore through almost a whole season and emerged feeling grateful.
Terrible, Thanks for Asking with Nora McInerney
Another podcast, another charismatic and compassionate woman who is drawing dark stories into the light. McInerney knows about loss: in a few short weeks, she suffered a miscarriage, lost her husband, and her father. On her wry, surprisingly funny podcast, she draws insights out of people who have lived through extreme or awful things. She lets the weight of every experience sink in, but somehow she makes these stories feel less scary, more bearable, with her touch.
Grief Is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter
This one might not be for everyone, but this little book captured the daze and rage of grief better than anything I’ve ever read. It’s a deeply strange novel, about a poet whose wife dies suddenly, leaving him in the sole care of their two boys. A massive black crow comes to live with them as they process their grief. What does the crow represent? The title makes it pretty clear, but nothing can prepare you for reading the book. It’s a bit of a wild ride—there are multiple sections narrated from the perspective of the crow—but there are sentences in this book that sang out to me so loudly I can still feel them.
The Spare Room by Helen Garner
A beautiful book from an Australian writer that stares death in the face from close quarters. It was inspired by a real-life experience, where Garner watched over her close friend as she died of cancer in her home. Some of the darkest stuff we think about death is in here, but it’s balanced by writing so fine that it redeems everything it touches. I learned a lot about my own grief, and particularly my own anger, from this book. “I had always thought that sorrow was the most exhausting of emotions,” she writes at one point. “Now I knew it was anger.” When I read that, I had to close the book so I could feel what it was doing to me.