Grief is the river that looks the same to all until you fall into it. Then each person's loss and mourning — for someone they loved, for a miscarriage, for their own shattered health or career — is simultaneously a unique and a universal experience. Upcoming titles from religion and spirituality publishers offer inspiring personal stories and pragmatic guides to surviving grief.

W. Lee Warren, a neurosurgeon and former combat surgeon in Iraq, has a prescription for facing devastating moments in life when "someone left, someone cheated, the biopsy was bad, the baby didn’t have a heartbeat, a loved one died, you suffered abuse, or your dreams ended abruptly." He titles his upcoming book Hope Is the First Dose: A Treatment Plan for Recovering from Trauma, Tragedy, and Other Massive Things (WaterBrook, July). Warren, the author of the 2021 Christian Book Award-winning memoir I've Seen the End of You and a father whose 19-year-old son was murdered, told PW in a 2019 interview, "Hopelessness is a cancer for the spirit." In the new book, Susan Tjaden, WaterBrook executive editor, says Warren "leans on his faith, but arms readers with a plan they can use no matter where they’re coming from. Just as individuals with severe allergies carry EpiPens to save them from physical harm, Dr. Warren equips readers with a plan to carry hope to save them from emotional, physical, and spiritual damage in times of trauma."

Fame and success — as a filmmaker, philanthropist and diplomat during the Obama administration — were no shield to the agony Nicole Avant felt when her mother was murdered during a home invasion. Yet, in the aftermath, she heard her mother's voice exhort her: "Make some blessings, find golden, not just silver, linings; let the alchemy of love and service and gratitude keep you alive, " she writes in her memoir Think You'll Be Happy: Moving through Grief with Grit, Grace, and Gratitude (Harper One, Oct). "We hope that readers who are dealing with loss will find Nicole’s memoir to be both a balm and a way forward,” says Judith Curr, HarperOne president and publisher.

Better Than Okay: Finding Hope and Healing After Your Marriage Ends (Bethany House, July), is by Brandi Wilson, a life coach and speaker who writes about how God transformed her heartbreak after her husband, a megachurch pastor, walked out on their family. "Divorced Christian women report feelings of shame and failure, because of the biblical view that marriage is a God-created institution. In her book, Brandi peels back the layers of grief, shame, and disappointment that women feel, and then helps women find healing in God," says acquisitions editor Jennifer Dukes Lee.

A Day's Journey: Stories of Hope and Death-Defying Joy (Bethany House, Oct.) by Tim Keesee, an author (Dispatches from the Front: Stories of Gospel Advance in the World's Difficult Places), a filmmaker, and director of Frontline Missions, describes finding pain and grace, hard questions and joyful moments in war-torn regions and during his ongoing battle with cancer. Bethany editorial director Andy McGuire, observes, "Wrestling with our mortality is always timely. Everybody dies, so everyone has to figure out what to do with that fact. Tim approaches this with absolute honesty, a touch of sadness, and a great deal of joy. This is quite the feat, and I think it’s so important in our world today, which is often characterized by hopelessness, loneliness, and despair.”

Rachael McRae, senior acquisitions editor for Revell, says, "For people of faith, the Bible is a trusted place to refer to for verses that will bring them peace, comfort, and hope during seasons of grief. Two titles come from Revell in August follow that theme. Rachel Lohman, author of Miscarried Hope: Journeying with Jesus through Pregnancy and Infant Loss, shares how she found comfort and hope in studying the Biblical passages on Holy Week, following "in the footsteps of Jesus's disciples as they grieved his death, waited in the silence, and rediscovered hope in his resurrection, according to the publisher. I Used to Be ___ How to Navigate Large and Small Losses in Life and Find Your Path Forward (Aug.) by Chuck Elliot, a pastor, and Ashley Elliott, a counselor, combines biblical advice and mental health techniques to guide people out of a well of sorrow they call the "realm of 'used to be.' You used to be married. You used to be employed. You used to be pregnant, secure, healthy, sober, thin. You used to be a son or daughter, a brother or sister, a mother or father."

Grieving — walking with it, breathing through it, sitting with a sense of loss— is not something we are born knowing how to do. And too often our culture doesn't allow the time and space needed to mourn, says author and podcaster Natasha Smith. Her book, Can You Just Sit with Me?: Healthy Grieving for the Losses of Life (IVP Sept.) offers practical tools and prayers "that point us to God who always sits with us in our grief," she writes.

Advice from different sources

Spiritual directors address grief in several books. Hopeful Lament: Tending Our Grief Through Spiritual Practices (IVP Formatio, Oct.) is by Terra McDaniel who suggests the "powerful act of crying out before a loving God" and offers reflection questions and practice and particular guidance for families with children. The Spirituality of Grief: Ten Practices for Those Who Remain (Broadleaf, out now) by Fran Tilton Shelton, co-founder of the nonprofit Faith & Grief Ministry, includes practices from a variety of religious traditions, from prayer to nature walks to sacred readings.

The Art of Overcoming: Letting God Turn Your Endings Into Beginnings by pastor Tim Timberlake (W Publishing, out now) uses a traditional funeral ceremony as a framework to look at all kinds of "death experiences " including grief, disappointment, tragedy, loss, pain, suffering, abuse, or sorrow. He directs readers through steps such as facing the loss, honoring the best memories, recognizing that there is life after death, and moving forward to "celebrate the new life God lays out before you," he writes.

Three Catholic men—authors Patrick O’Hearn and Bryan Feger, and Ryan Breaux of Red Bird Ministries—banded together to write about their own wrenching experiences in The Grief of Dads: Support and Hope for Catholic Fathers Navigating Child Loss (Ave Maria, Sept.). They find support and healing in "the sacraments, the Bible, fellow Catholics, and the devotional practices of the Church" according to the publisher.

Robert Hubbard lost his 19-year-old son, Auggie, who struggled with clinical depression and autism before taking his own life. Scenes with My Son: Love and Grief in the Wake of Suicide, (Eerdmans, Oct.) does not indulge in "cliches about 'God's plan'," according to the publisher. Instead, Hubbard, a theater professor, shares how he prays during his daily morning walk, striving to adore God and trust his son is with their savior.

I Don’t Know Who I Am Anymore: Restoring Your Identity Shattered by Grief and Loss (Thomas Nelson, Sept.) is by Carole Holiday who has endured divorce, job loss, and heart surgery. Along with her story of grief, she highlights biblical teachings that there is a God-given purpose in pain. Plus, she literally offers comfort food: Holiday includes recipes from a cooking school she once owned.

Kris Carr, a health-and-wellness writer, was confronted with "a dying parent, a business in flux, and her looming 20-year “cancerversary” of living with a rare, incurable, and slow-moving stage 4 cancer," according to her publisher. In I'm Not a Mourning Person: Braving Loss, Grief, and the Big Messy Emotions That Happen When Life Falls Apart (Hay House, Sept.), acquiring editor Melody Guy says Carr writes, "that faith is a feeling, not a fact; it’s a personal choice and practice that’s unique to each of us. Kris also offers guidance to the reader on developing their faith and caring for their spirit whether they are strong of faith or feel like a spiritual misfit."

While God and Gospel are the lifelines in most books on dealing with grief, one author points to a wide door labeled "love." When Steph Catudal, who endured the loss of her father when she was a teen, nearly lost her husband to lung cancer, she was forced to examine her ideas of faith. In her book Everything All at Once (HarperOne, May 30), Catudal, a trained interpersonal mediator, describes her journey away from the Mormon faith of her childhood, through a time of unbelief until she realized that love is "the only thing in this world that is truly pure and purely true. And in that singularity, I found god. Which is to say, I found myself.”