Comforting Audiobooks About Grief and Loss That Actually Help

If you're coping with the loss of a loved one, know that you are not alone. This collection of listens can help ease the pain of grief, offering support, guidance, and healing.

When it comes to the death of a loved one, there is no easy path forward. Grieving can place significant mental strain on those who are mourning. And because everyone grieves a little differently, it can be hard to know where to turn for help, or what to say to someone who is in the throes of grief. There are no simple answers.

Audiobooks on grief can offer insight to those looking for ways to support the mourning, or a bit of comfort for anyone struggling with loss themselves. These soothing, cathartic, and deeply personal listens can offer warmth and guidance when things feel particularly dark and lonely. Here are our recommendations for a few of the best audiobooks for coping with grief.

The Year of Magical Thinking

The Year of Magical Thinking

When celebrated writer Joan Didion’s life was altered forever, she wrote a new chapter. In this adaptation of her iconic memoir, Didion transforms the story of the shattering loss of her husband and their daughter into a one-woman play performed by Tony Award winner Vanessa Redgrave, who originated the role on Broadway in 2007. Written with Didion’s trademark style of cool observation, The Year of Magical Thinking weaves back and forth in time, taking listeners on a poignant journey through heartbreak, grief, and resilience. It’s an unforgettable theatrical experience that resonates with anyone who has ever loved and lost.

Wave

Wave

While on vacation in Sri Lanka, Sonali Deraniygala survived a tsunami that took the lives of her husband, her parents, and her children. In the bewildering days that followed, she struggled to make sense of this tremendous loss and her crippling new reality. Wave is an open and frank memoir about how the author managed to survive a horrible tragedy that very few can relate to, and rebuild a life that remembers and honors all that she lost. Accompanied by the warm, soothing voice of narrator Hannah Curtis, this listen is a tremendous comfort for those struggling with grief.

Lincoln in the Bardo

Lincoln in the Bardo

Though a work of fiction, Lincoln in the Bardo provides a glimpse into a reality so many of us are unfortunately familiar with: coping with the loss of a loved one and pondering where their very soul goes after death. Author George Saunders spins a unique and truly unforgettable work of historical fiction in following President Abrahram Lincoln in the days following the death of his adored 11-year-old son, Willie. Absorbed in his grief, Lincoln returns time and again to Willie's tomb, while in the Bardo, the transitional state between life and death, a push-and-pull begins. A full cast, including Nick Offerman, Don Cheadle, Bradley Whitford, Susan Sarandon, and Julianne Moore, brings this touching saga to vivid, soaring life in this Audie Award-winning listen.

A Grief Observed

A Grief Observed

A meditation written after the death of his wife, C.S. Lewis's sparse and moving A Grief Observed has been loved for years because of its stark honesty about how completely debilitating loss can be. Lewis pulls no punches about how the death of a loved one can feel like you're going mad, like nothing will ever be good again, like torture. With each word punctuated by the genial delivery of Audie Award-winning narrator Ralph Cosham, this is an audiobook for the person who doesn't want platitudes, happy stories, or optimism—just searing truth.

Unspoken

Unspoken

There are few griefs more relentlessly painful than the loss of a child. If you or someone you love has had to bear such an unthinkable tragedy, a listen like Luke Daniels's Unspoken may offer some comfort and consolation. Daniels, who is a fan favorite performer honored in the Audible Narrator Hall of Fame, lost his son Finnegan at only 21-months-old. In this touching and raw reflection that shines with heartbreak and humor in equal measure, Daniels offers an exquisite tribute to his son that is sure to resonate with anyone who has ever lost someone far too soon.

H Is for Hawk

H Is for Hawk

Author Helen Macdonald beautifully blends nature writing and memoir in H is for Hawk, which details her journey to train a fierce wild hawk after the death of her father leaves her devastated by grief. Narrated by the author herself, this listen is at once a moving look at loss and bereavement, an absorbing history of falconer and writer T.H. White, and a welcome balm to anyone who has found comfort from loss in sometimes suprising ways.

From Scratch

From Scratch

In this author-narrated memoir, we meet Tembi, an aspiring young actress from Texas, as she meets Saro, a professional chef, in Florence, Italy. Although Saro’s family doesn't approve of Tembi, because she is American and Black, the couple marry, build a life together in Los Angeles, and adopt a child. When Saro is diagnosed with cancer, they reconcile with his family, and when he is gone, Tembi endeavors to connect with her also recently widowed Sicilian mother-in-law. Over the three summers, Tembi spends time with Nonna, finding strength in her quiet faith and savoring her comforting meals, as she figures out how to forge a new life without her husband. A gorgeous and stirring story of love, loss, growth, and forgiveness, From Scratch offers solidarity and support to listeners coping with the loss of a spouse.

I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye

I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye

Each year about eight million Americans suffer the death of someone close to them. For those who experience the shock and life-shattering challenges of a loved one's sudden death, I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye offers genuine understanding and a welcome hand to hold. Written by two women, Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, PhD, who have lived through unexpected loss, this updated edition of the best-selling bereavement classic will touch, comfort, uplift, and console.

The Long Goodbye

The Long Goodbye

When Meghan O'Rourke lost her mother to cancer and separated from her husband, her life was profoundly altered. She began keeping a record of the days that followed such loss, asking what it means to grieve in a culture that is embarrassed by grief and doesn't know how to speak about death. A brave, beautiful, and deeply comforting audiobook for someone who has lost a parent, The Long Goodbye is also an important examination about how society feels about grief in general. In this author-narrated selection, O'Rourke brings her poet's voice both to the prose itself and to the delivery of each word.

A Body, Undone

A Body, Undone

In 2003, Christina Crosby was an active, adventurous person who lived a full life. When a bicycle accident left her paralyzed from the neck down, she faced the shocking loss of her own mobility and a new world plagued by pain and restrictions. In this author-narrated memoir, Crosby proves that grief accompanies not only death, but also the loss of freedom and health. In her own voice, she speaks candidly about her struggles to face her new reality and learn how to accept her limitations while staying open to the possibilities ahead. A Body, Undone is a searingly honest and ultimately uplifting listen.

When Breath Becomes Air

When Breath Becomes Air

Paul Kalanithi spent nearly a decade training to become a neurosurgeon, but just as he was wrapping up his training, he received the devastating news that he'd been diagnosed with terminal cancer. For the first time in his life, Kalanithi wasn't looking ahead but to the now, and, as he shares in this moving memoir, he grappled with what it meant to live a meaningful life when he didn't have a future to work towards. Expertly read by voice actor Sunil Malhotra and Hall of Fame narrator Cassandra Campbell, When Breath Becomes Air explores what it means to truly live, even in the face of loss.

Crying in H Mart

Crying in H Mart

Easily one of the best memoirs of 2021 (so far), Crying in H Mart by Michelle Zauner, author, artist, and musician of indie rock project Japanese Breakfast fame, is a gutting reflection on love, culture, identity, food, and loss. Whether Zauner is people-watching in the titular grocer’s food court or learning of her mother’s cancer diagnosis, her candid prose and delicate delivery provide an honest, unrelenting look at the realities of grief.

On Grief and Grieving

On Grief and Grieving

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross is the author of the groundbreaking On Death and Dying, which made famous the five stages of loss in its exploration of how people cope with their fear of death. In On Grief and Grieving, Kübler-Ross and collaborator David Kessler (who also narrates the title with the help of voice actress Samantha Desz) apply these principles to grieving. Part theory, part meditation on the nature of grieving, and part advice, this is an inspirational and helpful listen for anyone dealing with a loss. It offers both solace and practical recommendations how to approach life while grieving.

We Are Okay

We Are Okay

At the start of this Printz Award-winning novel, protagonist Marin has already experienced great loss: first, the death of her mother when she was a child and more recently, the loss of her grandfather, her only living relative, just as she was set to leave for college. As winter break approaches, she faces a new challenge: her best friend is coming to visit. They haven't spoken in months, and Marin isn't sure she knows how to open herself up to her friend, to the past, to grief. Audie Award-winning narrator Jorjeana Marie breathes life into this beautiful young adult entry about mourning not only a loved one, but all the possibilities that can never be. We Are Okay is about the dark places that grief can take us, and letting the light in.

Journey of Souls

Journey of Souls

Among the shared human mysteries that we all ponder, questions of what happens after we die, where we go, and the possibility of an afterlife are perhaps the most universal. Death is frightening and unknowable, so when we lose someone we care deeply about, there is an element of fear about the passage of their spirit. In Journey of Souls, Dr. Michael Newton compiles research about life after our mortal lives come to an end, detailing the experiences of those who lived through brushes with death. The result is a comforting listen for those seeking details on the moments just after death and the reassurance of a life after this one.

After

After

Like Journey of Souls, this audiobook seeks to address and help us better understand what lies beyond life. In After, Dr. Bruce Greyson, a physician without a religious belief system, approaches near-death experiences and the concept of life after death from a scientific perspective. Ideal for anyone who might find consolation in a listen that details the transition from life to death to what comes after without necessarily having faith in the traditional notion of heaven or God, this audiobook is as fascinating and enlightening as it is helpful.

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