Featured Books

The books in this list are those that have left lasting impressions in my journey from the depths of grief to a place of peace and joy.  
They are listed in no particular order. 

 
 
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SIDS & Infant death survival guide
by Joani Horchler & Robin Rice

About the book: 
Tremendously powerful and moving, this book has already sold more than 37,000 copies in English and Spanish in its former editions. This new 2011 fourth editon is revised and updated and has a new introduction by Dr. Henry Krous. It provides authoritative new medical research information on Sudden Infant Death Syndrome and infant death, and articles and poems by parents and family members who have lost babies to SIDS and other deaths such as suffocation. The most comprehensive book ever written on SIDS, its 19 chapters cover everything from the particular grief of mothers, fathers, siblings, grandparents, friends, and child-care providers to guilt, anger, dreams, premonitions, peer and professional support, emergency response, planning funerals, enduring anniversaries, having subsequent children, and reducing the risk of SIDS and infant death. The crucial issue of how child-care facilities can reduce their risk of being held liable for babies who die in their care is also covered.

Why I love this book:
First, this book helped me better understand SIDS and what we know and down't know about it.  Secondly, reading the stories of others who had experienced the sudden loss of an infant helped me feel much less alone in my loss.  As a bonus, the author is originally from South Dakota.

 
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Rare Bird
by Ana Whiston-Donaldson

About this book:
"I wish I had nothing to say on the matter of loss, but I do. Because one day I encouraged my two kids to go out and play in the rain, and only one came home…."
On an ordinary September day, twelve-year-old Jack is swept away in a freak neighborhood flood. His parents and younger sister are left to wrestle with the awful questions: How could God let this happen? And, Can we ever be happy again? They each fall into the abyss of grief in different ways. And in the days and months to come, they each find their faltering way toward peace.
 
In Rare Bird, Anna Whiston-Donaldson unfolds a mother’s story of loss that leads, in time, to enduring hope. “Anna’s storytelling,” says Glennon Doyle Melton, “is raw and real and intense and funny.” 
 
With this unforgettable account of a family’s love and longing, Anna will draw you deeper into a divine goodness that keeps us—beyond all earthly circumstances—safe.

This is a book about facing impossible circumstances and wanting to turn back the clock. It is about the flicker of hope in realizing that in times of heartbreak, God is closer than your own skin. It is about discovering that you’re braver than you think.

Why I love this book: 
The author does an amazing job putting to words the chaos that happens inside our heads.  She shows the disconnect between the "normal" ways we behave on the outside and how our thoughts are in a very different place.  She tell her story with rawness and truth, but also with hope and humor.

 
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A Grace Disguised
by Jerry Sittser

About this book: 
In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we choose, know as well the grace that transforms it. A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of sorrow, whether due to illness, divorce, or the loss of someone we love. The circumstances are not important; what we do with those circumstances is. In coming to the end of ourselves, we can come to the beginning of a new life―one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings.

Why I love this book:
This book showed me that even despite immense loss and tragedy, if we dare to look for the collateral beauty and grace, we will find it. It also allowed me to see tragedy outside my own in a new light, giving me the grace to empathize in some way with all who suffer. 

 
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The Shack
by William Paul Young

About the book:
Mackenzie Allen Philips' youngest daughter, Missy, has been abducted during a family vacation and evidence that she may have been brutally murdered is found in an abandoned shack deep in the Oregon wilderness. Four years later in the midst of his Great Sadness, Mack receives a suspicious note, apparently from God, inviting him back to that shack for a weekend. Against his better judgment he arrives at the shack on a wintry afternoon and walks back into his darkest nightmare. What he finds there will change Mack's world forever. 

In a world where religion seems to grow increasingly irrelevant The Shack wrestles with the timeless question, "Where is God in a world so filled with unspeakable pain?" The answers Mack gets will astound you and perhaps transform you as much as it did him. You'll want everyone you know to read this book!

Why I love this book:
I felt betrayed by God and quite angry with Him in the wake of my loss.  This book brought me out of my own tunnel vision back to a wider perspective, gave me right humility in my place next to the Creator, and offered hints of perspective on how an all-loving, all-powerful God can allow the death of a child.

 

 
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Proof of heaven
by Eben Alexander, MD

About this book:
The #1 New York Times bestselling account of a neurosurgeon's own near-death experience. 
Thousands of people have had near-death experiences, but scientists have argued that they are impossible. Dr. Eben Alexander was one of those scientists. A highly trained neurosurgeon, Alexander knew that NDEs feel real, but are simply fantasies produced by brains under extreme stress.

Then, Dr. Alexander’s own brain was attacked by a rare illness. The part of the brain that controls thought and emotion—and in essence makes us human—shut down completely. For seven days he lay in a coma. Then, as his doctors considered stopping treatment, Alexander’s eyes popped open. He had come back.

Alexander’s recovery is a medical miracle. But the real miracle of his story lies elsewhere. While his body lay in coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest realms of super-physical existence. There he met, and spoke with, the Divine source of the universe itself.

Alexander’s story is not a fantasy. Before he underwent his journey, he could not reconcile his knowledge of neuroscience with any belief in heaven, God, or the soul. Today Alexander is a doctor who believes that true health can be achieved only when we realize that God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.

This story would be remarkable no matter who it happened to. That it happened to Dr. Alexander makes it revolutionary. No scientist or person of faith will be able to ignore it. Reading it will change your life.

Why I love this book:
This story brings hope of an after life backed with the experience of another place and science that validates it's truth. The author's education and near-death experience was enough to bring him from a doubting atheist to a believer of Christian truth.

 
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Heaven is for REal
by Todd Burpo

About this book: 
Heaven Is for Real is the true story of the four-year old son of a small town Nebraska pastor who during emergency surgery slips from consciousness and enters heaven. He survives and begins talking about being able to look down and see the doctor operating and his dad praying in the waiting room. The family didn't know what to believe but soon the evidence was clear.

Colton said he met his miscarried sister, whom no one had told him about, and his great grandfather who died 30 years before Colton was born, then shared impossible-to-know details about each. He describes the horse that only Jesus could ride, about how "reaaally big" God and his chair are, and how the Holy Spirit "shoots down power" from heaven to help us.

Told by the father, but often in Colton's own words, the disarmingly simple message is heaven is a real place, Jesus really loves children, and be ready, there is a coming last battle.

Why I love this book:
Hearing the story of a near-death experience from a 5 year old boy brings the wonder of a child's experience and the simplicity of his explanations to the common themes that are laced through almost all of the near-death experiences told by adults. He makes imagining the impossible at least partially possible. 

 
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Making Sense out of Suffering
by Peter Kreeft

About this book: 
This book is for anyone who has ever wept and wondered, "Why?" Peter Kreeft observes that our world is full of billions of normal lives that have been touched by apparently pointless and random suffering. This account of a real and honest personal quest is both engaging and convincing. Written from a deep well of wisdom derived from experience and careful observation, Making Sense Out of Suffering is a book for empty hearts, not full ones. Read it if you are hungry for insight into the mystery of suffering. A Servant Book.

Why I love this book:
This is not an easy read.  It is philosophy that takes some time to work through, but if you really want to deepen your understanding of how an all-good and all-powerful God who truly exists can allow suffering to exist too, this book will walk you on a journey through that mysterious truth.