Nonfiction Books about Grief

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Randy Pausch was a Pittsburgh professor whose book, The Last Lecture (DB 66601), became a bestseller in 2008. Pausch wrote this while dying of cancer and it was based on the common occurrence of a retiring teacher giving a last lecture to impart a final bit of wisdom to his students. For many, the book was inspirational in its message of the joy of achieving childhood dreams. For others, it helped guide them through their own experiences with loss.

Here are some other beautifully-written memoirs and essay collections that deal with grief and loss:

DB 83643
Paul Kalanithi
When Breath Becomes Air
On the verge of completing a decade’s worth of training as a neurosurgeon, the author was diagnosed with advanced lung cancer. Kalanithi wrote about his own experience with dying to help others face their mortality. His wife’s epilogue follows his 2015 death. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. 2015.

DB 83149
Oliver Sacks
Gratitude
Collection of four essays from the author of On the Move (DB 81374), written after he was given a terminal cancer diagnosis and reflecting on the things and experiences in his life for which he was grateful. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. Bestseller. 2015.

DB 82146
Elizabeth Alexander
The Light of the World
Poet reflects on her life with her husband, his sudden and unexpected death at the age of fifty, and the ways she coped with the grief of his loss. Examines what attracted her to him, their life together as parents, and the type of man he was. Unrated. Commercial audiobook. 2015.