Reading and Book Resources

Reading is a resource that can bring comfort and understanding when you are facing the end of life with a beloved family member or following a loss.  Below are some personal recommendations that you may find helpful.  Certainly every book is not right for every person or situation, but reading can be a very supportive process.  There are many books available and I’m always happy to offer ideas and hear your thoughts.

 - Debbie Conrad,  Clinic Support and Pet Loss Program Coordinator


Good-Bye Friend  by Gary Kowalski

This is one of my favorite books of pure comfort and support for those grieving a loss.  Kowalski strongly believes that each person’s journey is unique.  He offers comfort, drawing from a wide variety of belief systems.

The Loss of a Pet  by Wallace Sife, Ph.D.

This book offers a good overview of the grief process and provides good information for the reader to think about.  It’s easy to understand and covers a lot of common issues regarding grief.  Sife offers strategies and suggestions for working through the grief and healing process.  I caution that Chapter Ten is about traumatic loss and may be painful for some readers.

Blessing the Bridge  by Rita M. Reynolds

Reynolds offers a very uplifting spiritual perspective.  This is a great book for those looking to better understand the lasting connection.  Reynolds also takes a look at what we can learn from death that is sacred and comforting.

Merle’s Door  by Ted Kerasote

This is a beautiful memoir about the relationship between Ted and his beloved dog, Merle.  It’s a love story and a portrait of freedom, choices, and partnership.  Ted offers a very different look at partnering with an animal and shares the lessons he learned from his “Freethinking Dog”.

Walking With Peety  by Eric O’Grey

An inspiring and heartwarming memoir on so many levels - getting healthy, the supportive power of the human animal bond, shelter adoption, and finally loss, grief, and recovery.  It’s a book full of gifts.

Speaking for Spot  by Dr. Nancy Kay

This a book about advocacy.  Dr. Kay offers great information, timeless suggestions, and thoughtful considerations for pet parents in navigating the best care and personal health decisions for their beloved animals.

The Mourning Handbook  by Helen Fitzgerald

Written as a companion to mourners in need of practical and emotional support, the author addresses numerous situations, types of loss or trauma, and relationships.  This book is designed more as a reference tool and can be read in it’s entirely or consulted in subsections and chapters that pertain to the bereaved.

Reading for Families and Young Grievers

Parents should always screen books ahead of time to make sure they are appropriate for their child and represent the family values and belief system.

  • The Tenth Good Thing About Barney by Judith Viorst
  • I’ll Always Love You by Hans Wilhelm
  • The Fall of Freddie the Leaf by Leo Buscaglia, Ph.D.
  • The Heaven of Animals by Nancy Tillman
  • Tear Soup by Taylor Bills