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Books about Grief, Death, and Dying

endlich. über trauer reden; no proper grief; was bleibt, wenn wir sterben; after francesco; kurt; grief is the thing with feathers; moshi moshi

If you read German, head over to the German language blog post to read more reviews including German books.


No Proper Grief: A Journey of Loss and Resilience by Jakob Franzen (2022)

In No Proper Grief: A Journey of Loss and Resilience, Jakob Franzen tells of his grief.

When his husband Jayson dies of an unnamed illness, he doesn’t take the time to grief: he has to take care of their two young daughters. His narrative switches between his past (before and during their relationship), the time of Jayson’s illness, dying, and death, and the time after Jayson.

This short book isn’t a literary masterpiece. It’s redundant at times and professional editing could have made it so much better. But nevertheless, Jakob's narrative is helpful. For those who are in a similar situation and for those who want to support grieving friends and relatives.

Fiction & Poetry

After Francesco by Brian Malloy (2021)

After Francesco was one of my favorite books in 2021.

The book is set in 1980s New York, at the height of the HIV/AIDS crisis. The story focuses on Kevin who lost the love of his life (and most of his friends) to AIDS and how he manages life without him.

After Francesco is a sad read, it will make you cry, but it will make you laugh as well.

Grief is the Thing with Feathers by Max Porter (2016)

"Moving on, as a concept, is for stupid people, because any sensible person knows grief is a long-term project."

Grief is the Thing with Feathers is not easily described: prose and poetry are mixed, it’s a bit fabulous, and often confusing.

But that is what grief is: confusing. A father and his two sons are left behind when the mother unexpectedly dies. To their help comes: Crow—an actual crow.

An exceptional work on grief that managed to make me laugh, despite the sad story.

もしもし下北沢 (engl. Moshi Moshi) by Banana Yoshimoto (2010)

Moshi Moshi. Literally: 'I'm going to talk, I'm going to talk.' Often used to indicate that the receiver of a call (called by family and friends) is there and ready to talk.

Yoshie lost her father. He died in a suicide pact with an unknown woman. And ever since his death, Yoshie has dreams that seem to indicate that he's trying to call her. She moves to Shimokitazawa, a traditional neighborhood in Tokyo filled with artists. And her mother follows and moves in with her.

A beautiful story of family, community, and food!


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