Widows Hope has created a list of books that we have found to be helpful in moving forward in our grief journey and for moving forward into a new amazing life.

During those first days and weeks of grief, it can be incredibly difficult to focus.  Letter to a Grieving Heart is a book that can calm a soul with its beautiful illustrations.  My aunt, Judy, lost her son two years before I lost my husband.  She “knew” deep loss.

She told me that the photos, in the book, would bring me peace.  She was right.  I wasn’t able to read the words for a while but, I could look at the beautiful illustrations and feel peace.

When the surviving spouse or significant other can begin to focus enough to read, the book provides a beautiful story of love, loss of a fiancée, hope and life.

My neighbor, Michelle, brought me a book called Little Pieces of Light….Darkness & Personal Growth by Joyce Rupp OSM.  May I say that Joyce is a nun and I am not Catholic, so I wasn’t sure how impactful the book might be.  In her book, this woman of faith provided me with simple but profound perspectives and tremendous comfort.

Widows Hope board member, Pete Ruliffson (widower), recommends “Heaven,” a book that addresses the question “What is heaven like?”  Pete’s wife Marni and his step-son, read this book shortly before their lives were lost in a helicopter crash.  The book provided him with peace.  Pete gave me a copy of the book shortly after my husband was killed in a bicycle accident.

Jerry Sittser provides a depiction of unbearable loss, in his book called A Grace Disguised.  In a tragedy that claims the lives of multiple family members; including his spouse, we find amazing hope and encouragement.  One of the main messages, for surviving spouses or significant others, is that if Jerry can survive so can we.

At some point during the grief journey, we are going to need to find happiness again.  Dan Buettner has provided a roadmap for intentionally creating a way to “Thrive.”

Dan Buettner was seated next to us, on the outdoor patio of the Silver Spoon restaurant in the Mill District of Minneapolis, one summer afternoon.  My friend, David, told me about Dan’s book “The Blue Zones.”

A few months later, a business acquaintance told me that I should pursue my passion.  She advised me to read the “Blue Zones,” by Dan Buettner.

In July, I attended an Aquatennial Party at the Carlyle, downtown Minneapolis, and met a charismatic man who spoke about riding his bicycle around the world.  His name was Dan Buettner, and it turns out that he is the author of the “Blue Zones” book.

After these messages, it seemed pretty clear that I should read the book, right?

A week later, a sequel to the “Blue Zones,” called “Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way” book arrived in my mail; compliments of Dan.

The arrival of the book was timely.  As I worked to create the content for the Widows Hope website, and as we work to develop programs to meet the needs for widows and widowers, I discovered that “Thrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way” offers a roadmap for finding happiness again and for confirming that meeting basic needs enhances healing.

At some point, many of us will wish to find a new soul mate, life partner, or we will find ourselves thrust into and unprepared for the new world of dating.

Natalie, is a young widow, and a WH team member.  Natalie recommends books that have guided her on dating in her new single life.

We’re working to provide resources that will help make your journey a bit gentler than ours so that you can move forward to have an amazing life.  After one of life’s most devastating events, it is possible to go on and have an amazing life!


Book List

Hope-HealsHope Heals: A Journal of Love, Loss and Memories

By Sarah Kroenke, Daena Esterbrooks

Hope Heals is a keepsake journal created for teenagers and adults who have lost a loved one. This journal was created out of an appreciation and understanding of how difficult and life changing it is to experience the death of a loved one. The book serves as a tool to discover growth and strength in the midst of the pain.

little-pieces-of-lightLittle Pieces of Light….Darkness & Personal Growth

By Joyce Rupp OSM

Joyce Rupp, O.S.M., is a member of the Servite community and she draws from her Native American background for this hope-fulled book, offering both courage and solace. It reaches into the human heart, encouraging the reader to approach painful, inner darkness as a help for rather than a hindrance to personal growth. In a culture that pushes away darkness, this book carries a radical message: Darkness, a womb of silent nurturing, is where one waits patiently for the stirrings of new life to develop. This small but powerful volume reminds all who live in a world with much darkness that there is a strong light within the self and within others that will serve as a comfort and guide along a sometimes bleak and barren journey of life.

Letter-to-a-Grieving-HeartLetter to a Grieving Heart

By Billy Sprague

In this book, Billy Sprague offers the kind of compassion and insight that can only come from one who has lived through deep loss himself. Among other losses, he has had to face the death of a fiancee, a beloved grandmother, and a favorite college professor. From these experiences, he has drawn the kind of insight that will help others walk through the dark, seemingly endless times of grief. With honesty, passion, and perspective, he shares the little things that eased him forward and the words of comfort that carried him to a place of strength. Illustrated with restful, hope-filled photographs of nature, this is the ideal gift of comfort for anyone who is grieving a loss in their life.


By Randy Alcorn

What will heaven be like? Randy Alcorn presents a thoroughly biblical answer, based on years of careful study, presented in an engaging, reader-friendly style. His conclusions will surprise readers and stretch their thinking about this important subject. Heaven will inspire readers to long for heaven while they’re living on earth.

grace-disguisedA Grace Disguised

By Jerry Sittser

Loss in life is inevitable, but it’s possible to harness the hardship of loss and turn it into a positive event in your life. Author Jerry Sittser explores painful events like divorce, death and illness and shows that it’s not the circumstances we find ourselves in at these points of loss, but how we respond to them that widens our spiritual capacity to experience blessing and growth in the midst of grief.

signs-of-lifeSigns of Life

By Natalie Taylor

“I know. I know. No one says it but I know…” —from Signs of Life

Twenty-four-year-old Natalie Taylor was leading a charmed life. At the age of twenty four, she had a fulfilling job as a high school English teacher, a wonderful husband, a new house and a baby on the way.  Then, while visiting her sister, she gets the news that Josh has died in a freak accident.  Four months before the birth of her son, Natalie is leveled by loss.

What follows is an incredibly powerful emotional journey, as Natalie calls upon resources she didn’t even know she had in order to re-imagine and re-build a life for her and her son. In vivid and immediate detail, Natalie documents her life from the day of Josh’s death through the birth their son, Kai, as she struggles in her role as a new mother where everyone is watching her for signs of impending collapse.  With honesty, raw pain, and most surprising, a wicked sense of humor, Natalie recounts the agonies and unexpected joys of her new life.  There is the frustration of holidays, navigating the relationship with her in-laws, the comfort she finds and unlikely friendship she forges in support groups and the utterly breathtaking, but often overwhelming new motherhood.   When she returns to the classroom, she finds that little is more healing than the honesty and egocentricity of teenagers.

Drawing on lessons from beloved books like The Color Purple and The Catcher in the Rye and the talk shows she suddenly can’t get enough of, from the strength of her family and friends, and from a rich fantasy life—including a saucy fairy godmother who guides her grieving—Natalie embarks on the ultimate journey of self-discovery and realizes you can sometimes find the best in yourself during the worst life has to offer.  And she delivers these lessons, in way that feels like she’s right beside you in her bathrobe and with a glass of wine–the cool, funny girlfriend you love to stay up all night with.

Unforgettable and utterly absorbing, Signs of Life features a powerful, wholly original debut voice that will have you crying and laughing to the very last page.

book-of-jobThe Book of Job: When Bad Things Happened to a Good Person (Jewish Encounters)

By Harold S. Kushner

Part of the Jewish Encounter series

From one of our most trusted spiritual advisers, a thoughtful, illuminating guide to that most fascinating of biblical texts, the book of Job, and what it can teach us about living in a troubled world.

The story of Job is one of unjust things happening to a good man. Yet after losing everything, Job—though confused, angry, and questioning God—refuses to reject his faith, although he challenges some central aspects of it. Rabbi Harold S. Kushner examines the questions raised by Job’s experience, questions that have challenged wisdom seekers and worshippers for centuries. What kind of God permits such bad things to happen to good people? Why does God test loyal followers? Can a truly good God be all-powerful?

Rooted in the text, the critical tradition that surrounds it, and the author’s own profoundly moral thinking, Kushner’s study gives us the book of Job as a touchstone for our time. Taking lessons from historical and personal tragedy, Kushner teaches us about what can and cannot be controlled, about the power of faith when all seems dark, and about our ability to find God.

Rigorous and insightful yet deeply affecting, The Book of Job is balm for a distressed age—and Rabbi Kushner’s most important book since When Bad Things Happen to Good People.

moving-forward-on-your-ownMoving Forward on Your Own

By Kathleen Reihl

A husband’s death is possibly the most devastating event a woman will experience. She might wonder if she will be able to make it on her own. She may feel overwhelmed and not know what to do next without her partner. Kathleen’s guidebook helps widows be more confident, knowledgeable and secure about their money matters. The book integrates basic financial information with self-reflective exercises that encourage financial self-assurance. Kathleen is honest about her own struggles as a widow, and she holds empathy for others. This unique guidebook is presented in a beautiful format, to help heal a woman’s soul as well as gently focus on money matters. The book is not intended to teach women everything about money and financial planning immediately. When someone is emotionally overwhelmed, it s not wise to overload one’s focus. Rather, widows are invited to begin looking at their money issues and then take actions in a way that builds confidence . . . as they transition into a new financial life on their own. This book may be used independently, in a collaborative approach with a professional, or in a group with facilitated conversation (such as a widow’s support group, congregation class, or a women s community gathering). It’s also an appropriate gift book for a widowed friend or family member.

from-one-widow-to-anotherFrom One Widow to Another

By Miriam Neff

“Widow” is one title women do not want to have. Yet, according to the Surgeon General’s office, 800,000 people become widows or widowers every year in the United States alone. Every aspect of a widow’s existence changes–like it or not, ready or not. These changes add to the emotional roller coaster that most women experience after losing their husband. Miriam Neff understands the ride. As she struggled to understand and accept her new role after her husband’s death, she recognized the need for women to hear from others about their experiences and what helped them transition to this new stage of life. From One Widow to Another offers practical advice for those facing the loss of a spouse. Drawing from her own loss, Neff walks with the reader through practical issues to a sense of encouragement.

heaven-is-for-realHeaven is for Real

A young boy emerges from life-saving surgery with remarkable stories of his visit to heaven.

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.

thriveThrive: Finding Happiness the Blue Zones Way 

What makes us happy? It’s not wealth, youth, beauty, or intelligence, says Dan Buettner. In fact, most of us have the keys within our grasp. Circling the globe to study the world’s happiest populations, Buettner has spotted several common principles that can unlock the doors to true contentment with our lives.

Working with leading researchers, Buettner identifies the happiest region on each of four continents. He explores why these populations say they are happier than anyone else, and what they can teach the rest of us about finding contentment. His conclusions debunk some commonly believed myths: Are people who have children happier than those who don’t? Not necessarily—in Western societies, parenthood actually makes the happiness level drop. Is gender equality a factor? Are the world’s happiest places to be found on tropical islands with beautiful beaches? You may be surprised at what Buettner’s research indicates.

Unraveling the story of each “hotspot” like a good mystery, Buettner reveals how he discovered each location and then travels to meet folks who embody each particular brand of happiness. He introduces content, thriving people in Denmark, in Singapore, in northeastern Mexico, and in a composite “happiest place in America.” In addition, he interviews economists, psychologists, sociologists, politicians, writers, and other experts to get at what contributes to each region’s happiness.

Buettner’s findings result in a credible, cross-cultural formula and a practical plan to help us stack the deck for happiness and get more satisfaction out of life. According to Buettner’s advisory team, the average person can control about forty percent of his or her individual happiness by optimizing life choices. These aren’t unreasonable demands on a person’s lifestyle, and they often require only slight changes. They fall into three categories that make up the way we live our lives: the food we eat, the way we exercise, and the social networks we foster. It’s all about nourishing the body and the spirit. Heeding the secrets of the world’s happiness all-stars can help us make the right choices to find more contentment in our own lives and learn how to thrive.



Become Your Own Matchmaker

By Patti Stanger

To every single woman sitting home alone wondering, Where are all the good men, and why isn’t a gorgeous one standing shirtless in my kitchen mixing me up a pomegranate mojito? she says, I hate to tell you this girlfriend, but its your own fault. But don’t worry, with her straightforward attitude, Patti doles out her best tried-and-true advice to help women of all ages get out of their own way and get hitched. Using her infectious confidence and bravado, Patti promises that if you follow her advice and commit to her program, you’ll have found Mr. Perfect in less than a year.

women-have-all-the-powerWomen Have All The Power ~ Too Bad They Don’t Know It!

By Michael J. Lockwood

This empowering book is a wake-up call for women. It challenges them to be responsible for their actions, raise their standards, stop compromising, and to use their power to find a man who cherishes commitment and appreciates a fine woman.

Dating-a-Widower-Cover-100Dating a Widower: Starting a Relationship with a Man Who’s Starting Over

Abel Keogh

Are you thinking about dating a widower? Your new relationship will have unique challenges you won’t find when dating single or divorced men. For it to work, the widower will have to put his feelings for his late wife to the side and focus on you. But how do you know if he’s ready to take this step?

Drawing on his own experience as a widower who’s remarried, Abel Keogh gives you unique insight into the hearts and minds of widowers, including:

  • How to tell if a widower’s ready to make room in his heart for you
  • Red flags that may indicate he’s not ready for commitment
  • How to handle family and friends who aren’t supportive of the widower’s new relationship
  • Tips for dealing with holidays and other special occasions

Dating a Widower is your 101 guide to having a relationship with a man who’s starting over. It also contains over a dozen real life stories from women who have gone down the same road you’re traveling. It’s the perfect book to help you decide if the man you’re seeing is ready for a new relationship—and whether or not dating a widower is right for you.

MAW-100Marrying a Widower

Abel Keogh

What You Need to Know Before Tying the Knot
Are you in a serious relationship with a widower? Are you considering tying the knot? Any lasting relationship takes a lot of work, but a successful marriage to a widower requires the ability for both of you to work through unique issues that most couples don’t face. Are you up to the challenge?

Drawing on a decade of experience as a remarried widower, Abel Keogh gives you unique insight into what it takes to make any long-term relationship with a widower successful, including:

  • How to make sure your marriage is new, exciting, and fresh instead of a rehash of the widower’s previous relationship.
  • Suggestions and tips for making sure both of you can talk about the late wife, his grief, and any other widower-related issues.
  • What role, if any, the late wife’s family should play in your relationship.
  • How to make the home feel like yours instead of theirs.
  • Ten real-life stories from women who are engaged or married to a widower.

Marrying a Widower will help you decide whether or not the widower you’re dating is prepared to make the ultimate commitment. More importantly, the book will walk you through many of the challenging circumstances that come with tying the knot and help you decide if taking this step is right for you.

Children’s Books

never-say-goodbyeNever Say Goodbye

Lea Gillespie Gant


I Miss You

Pat Thomas


Tell Me About Heaven

Randy Alcorn