Books

The death of a loved one is a very difficult time for anyone, regardless of religion. Most everyone asks the same questions: What do I do? How do I cope? When will the pain end? What next? What now? In Judaism, the mourning period immediately following a death – known as a shiva – is the traditional way in which loss is felt, dealt with, and observed. But mourning is a very complex and time-honored ritual in the Jewish religion, and literature on the subject can be not only educational but also very helpful and uplifting during this period. Below is a list of books, for both adults and children, offering guidance, solace and information, along with an educational perspective to learn more about shiva, or make the most difficult of times a little easier to navigate.

For Adults:

Saying Kaddish: How to Comfort the Dying, Bury the Dead, and Mourn as a Jew by Anita Diamant
In Saying Kaddish, Anita Diamant -- author of several fiction and nonfiction books, including the New York Times bestseller The Red Tent -- adeptly covers some the toughest of times and manages to transform them into sources of comfort. The reader will leave this informative book with nary a question on any aspect of Judaism's death and mourning processes -- and he or she will be able to take a deep breath before heading into it all.

The Jewish Way in Death and Mourning by Maurice Lamm

Written by Maurice Lamm, a rabbi of one of the most popular synagogues in the United States, this book provides readers with comprehensive information about traditional Jewish mourning rituals and customs. Lamm primarily covers Ashkenazi mourning customs commonly practiced in the United States.

Grief in Our Seasons: A Mourner's Kaddish Companion by Rabbi Kerry M. Olitzky
Grief in Our Seasons provides
 guidance and structure thought the year of Jewish mourning. The standout features of this book include daily inspirational guidance and an opportunity for the mourner to record daily introspections, memories and challenges. Medititaions provide insight through others that have been through the mourning process. 

A Time to Mourn, A Time to Comfort by Ron Wolfson

Jewish Insights on Death and Mourning Edited by Jack Riemer
Through a collection of writings on Jewish mourning customs and healing, Riemer demonstrates that the Jewish tradition offers much to those who seek help in time of need. The essays are written by a variety of individuals; contributors range from members of the Jewish Orthodox tradition to members of the Jewish Reform movement. 

The Living Memories Project: Legacies that Last by Meryl Ain, Arthur M. Fischman and Stewart Ain
The Living Memories Project features more than 30 interviews with celebrities and others who tell how they transformed their grief into constructive and creative action. This upbeat and uplifting book demonstrates that any tribute -- big or small -- can be a meaningful way to preserve memories of loved ones. Each chapter offers a rich first-person history that will provide comfort and inspiration to anyone who has experienced a loss. Not everyone can create a foundation, fund an orchestra or make a documentary film, but the authors' hope is that readers will find inspiration from the wide range of actions they read about.

The Orphaned Adult: Confronting the Death of a Parent by Rabbi Marc Angel
Rabbi Marc Angel’s intriguing text discusses how adults can cope with and come to terms with losing one parent or both. The narrative touches on a topic not often discussed in a straightforward manner.

When A Jew Dies: The Ethnography of a Bereaved Son by Samuel C Heilman
Samuel Heilman's book provides readers with a well-thought-out ethnographical narrative that touches on his personal experience with Jewish mourning as well as the historical origins of Jewish mourning customs and traditions. Heilman, a professor of sociology at Queens College of the City University of New York, also explores various aspects of Jewish mourning, including the preparation of the body, the transitional period between the death, the burial and the shiva.

Why Me? Why Anyone? by Rabbi Hirshel Jaffe, James Rudin and Marcia Rudin
When Hirshel Jaffe, a rabbi and avid runner, was diagnosed with a type of leukemia, he was understandably stunned and unsettled. A physically active New York native in his late forties, Jaffe found it difficult to come to terms with his diagnosis and illness. Together with James and Marcia Rudin, Jaffe created a narrative of his personal experiences, emotional journey and time in remission. 

Why Me? Coping with Grief, Loss, and Change by Rabbi Pesach Krauss
Rabbi Pesach Krauss’s text provides anecdotes and narratives that help to  understand the many elements of Jewish mourning. The anecdotes touch on the families and individuals that Krauss has counseled throughout his career. 

Necessary Mourning: Healing the Loss of a Parent Through Jewish Ritual by Dahlia Abraham-Klein
Necessary Mourning is written in an eloquent account of the traditional customs that are put into practice when a Jewish person dies providing a moving chronicle of the loss of Abraham-Klein's own father. This unique narrative crosses the boundary between psychology, spirituality and traditional Jewish ritual. Not only describing but also explaining the psychological significance behind Jewish practices and traditions. The richly informative personal account deepens our understanding of the customs and traditions that inform the Jewish psychological response to death.

When Bad Things Happen to Good People by Harold Kushner
Rabbi Harold Kushner tackles the universal question, “Why me?” in his New York Times best-selling book. After coming to terms with his young son's terminal illness, Kushner decided to put his thoughts, experiences and questions into words. The thought-provoking and well-written text can be a useful resource for individuals of all faiths. 

To Begin Again: The Journey Towards Comfort, Strength, and Faith in Difficult Times by Naomi Levy 

For Children:

The Fall of Freddie the Leaf: A Story of Life For All Ages by Leo Buscaglia 

The Velveteen Rabbit by Margery Bianco 

Barclay and Eve: Sitting Shiva by Karen Carney 

Water Bugs and Dragonflies by Doris Stickney 

The Saddest Time by Norman Simon 

Sad Isn't Bad by Michaelene Mundy