Here’s a list of books which cover loss and grief, adoption/fostering, infertility and generally helpful books. All these books have been recommended by people who have direct experience of these issues in question with a few words of explanation why.
Some are Christian books which can be a help in addressing not just the surface issues but understanding the bigger issues at stake all from a God-focused perspective.
Here are some possible links to help you get hold of these books online, but you may well find that especially for the Christian books sources like 10ofthose.com can obtain them at special discount. (22 of these books are available on Amazon.)
Loss and Grief
A broken heart still beats (Mary Semel & Anne McCracken)
- A collection of writings, extracts from books, poems and films that speak of the pain of losing a child. Compiled by two women whose sons died tragically, who found the company of many other grieving parents from across the ages in the literature collection they put together.
A Gift of Time: Continuing Your Pregnancy When Your Baby’s Life is Expected to Be Brief (Amy Kuebelbeck & Deborah L.Davis)
This may be the only book specifically for parents in this situation. Compiled from dozens of questionnaires and interviews, it shares the experiences of parents who have already travelled that journey – journeys of grief, but also of joy, as they adjust to a different pregnancy from what they were expecting, love and treasure this unexpected child and make the most of the time that they still have with him/her. Although written in the USA it remains thoroughly relevant for parents and medical/nursing staff in the UK. This book is best used as a resource for dipping into and a ‘companion’.
A Grace Disguised (Jerry Sittser)
- A book which plumbs the depths of our sorrows and is more a moving meditation on the losses we all suffer and the grace that can transform us.
A Grief Observed (CS Lewis)
- Heart-rendering reflections about grief from CS Lewis after the death of his wife.
Blessed be Your Name:
Worshipping God on the road marked with suffering (Matt & Beth Redman)
- Focusing on why and how as Christians we can choose to praise and worship God in the midst of suffering, this small but significant book is born out of the Redman’s own loss and their experiences of others’ sufferings.
Devotions for Times of Sorrow (Earl Allen; out of print)
- Taking Biblical truths and comforts for those grieving, this devotional book provides reflections, poem and prayers.
Death & the Afterlife from a Christian Perspective (Ligon Duncan)
- A smaller informative and assuring book covering death, Christ’s return, judgment, heaven and the afterlife.
From Grief to Glory (James W Bruce III)
- Bruce shares his heartache at losing his infant son 55 days after he was born and also presents the journey of mourning for many other Christians from centuries past who too lost children.
Gone but Not Lost:
Grieving the Death of a Child (David W Wiersbe)
- Small chapters emphasising the many and varied emotions surrounding loss framed within comforting Biblical texts.
Holding onto Hope (Nancy Guthrie)
- A mother gives birth to a beautiful daughter, Hope, who is diagnosed with a rare and fatal condition. She lives for several months before her death, but then Nancy conceives another child with the same condition. This is essentially a study on the book of Job, with insights from a woman who has suffered immense loss.
Keziah: A little Piece of God’s Heart (Lizzie Grayson)
This is one of a small but growing number of books on the market telling the story of how people cope with the news that their unborn child has a potentially fatal diagnosis. Able to be read in a couple of hours, it’s told with an infectious enthusiasm for God’s word.
Grayson’s account is a hugely inspiring testimony of how repeated, deliberate decisions to praise God, no matter what the circumstances, lead to peace and joy. Every Christian should read it, and it could be given to those curious to know what (who!) can give us such astonishing strength.
I’ll hold You in Heaven(Jack Hayford)
- A compassionate slimline book written by an American Pastor who has a ministry to those grieving from the loss of a child either before or just after birth. Tackling significant questions on the significance of a baby’s life even in the womb this book is also evangelistic.
It’s Ok to Cry:
Finding Hope when struggling with Infertility & Miscarriage (Malcolm & Nick Cameron)
- An honest and realistic account of a couples’ journey of grief, where the one certainty they proclaim is hope in God.
Lament for a son (Nicolas Wolterstorff)
- Written in memory of his son who died age 24 in a mountaineering accident. In the midst of heart-rending questions and deep grief, Wolterstorff clearly finds his hope in God who understands suffering.
Miscarriage: What Every Woman Needs to Know (Professor Lesley Regan)
- A factual and clear account published in 2001, with then up to date medical research which provides honest information about facts, causes and available treatment.
One Minute After You Die:
A Preview of Your Final Destination (Erwin W Lutze)
- A straight talking book which clearly explains what happens to Christians and non Christians alike when they die. Will bring assurance and clarity.
Shaming of the Strong:
The Challenge of an unborn life (Sarah Williams)
- A mother goes through the latter half of her pregnancy carrying a baby that she knows will die at birth or soon after. A courageous story of faith and a mother’s love.
The Ambulance Box (Andrew Philip)
- This is a powerful collection of poems by Andrew Philip, whose baby son died soon after his birth. It is beautifully written, rich with imagery and meaning and conveys the raw grief of a broken father.
When a Baby Dies:
Answers to comfort grieving Parents (Ronald H Nash)
- A convincing theologically-driven book seeking to answer questions such as, “When does life begin?” and “Will we know our baby in Heaven?”.
Waiting with Gabriel: A Story of Cherishing a Baby’s Brief Life (Amy Kuebelbeck)
- The story of a mother faced with an impossible decision following a devastating antenatal diagnosis of Hypoplastic left heart in her unborn baby son. It is dedicated to her son, Gabriel, and ‘all other babies whose parents’ hearts have been broken.’
- This book is written by a couple who have personally experienced miscarriage and still birth. They write for those who are going through similar experiences, and also for those who discover that their child has a serious disability. They are Christians, but write for a wide audience and the book will be helpful to those of any faith or none.
Someone I Loved Died (Victoria Ponikvar)
- A colourful book allowing children to explore the death of a loved one or friend while directing them to hope in Jesus. Laid out so children can personalise their loss.
A Time for Everything (Susie Poole)
- An excellent simple board book focused on Ecclesiastes 3 with illustrations and sentiment that can engage the young and old alike.
Adopted for Life (Russell Moore)
- A very helpful book written by a pastor who adopted two boys. It explores Christian reasons for adopting and the practical issues and obstacles. Impresses adoption is a vital ministry to bring children into a Christian home and church family. Inspirational reading for all – those with or without biological children. The adoption process in the UK is different from the US but the principles and ideas raised are the same. Recommended reading to anyone beginning to think about adoption or fostering, and to those who would like to support adoption.
How to Really Love Your Child (Dr.Ross Campbell)
- Writen from a Christian perspective on how to really love your child. Dr Campbell asserts that everyday a child is asking his parents, “Do you love me?”, not only through his words, but more importantly through his behaviour.
The Call to Adoption ( Jaymie Stuart Wolfe)
- An excellent resource for anyone who has adopted, is paperchasing their adoption or is beginning to think about building a family through adoption. In easy to read chapters, which can be read in or out of sequence, Wolfe describes her prayerful journey to adopt a daughter from Russia.
The Growth of Love (Keith White)
- This is about connecting a theological way of looking at the world to secular theories of child development. Very helpful for people who are looking to parent traumatised children through fostering or adoption- Keith White runs a residential children’s home in London.
Produced by the British Adoption and Fostering Agency (BAAF) these books are good for getting to grips with the process of adoption in the UK:
First Steps in Parenting the Child Who Hurts (Caroline Archer)
- Hands on advice about parenting children through fostering and adoption.
Attachment:Volume One of the Attachment & Loss Trilogy (Dr John Bowlby)
- Helps prospective adopting parents to understand some of the difficulties a child may have experienced and the future impact this might have on the parent-child relationships. As an adoptee it helped me understand myself a little better.
Being Adopted (Brodzinsky)
- Very helpful for a lifelong perspective on being adopted and adopting.
A Child’s Journey through Placement (Vera Fahlberg)
- A helpful core text as recommended by a Foster Care Employee.
Real Parents, Real Children (Holly Van Gulden)*
- Holly Van Gulden is an American psychologist who is an adopter, and has adopted siblings. She combines personal and professional experience.
Building the Bonds of Attachment (Daniel Hughes)*
- Dan Hughes is an American Clinical Psychologist who specialises on supporting carers of children who have experienced trauma and attachment disorders.
Helping Children cope with Separation and Loss (Claudia Jewett)
- A helpful core text as recommended by a Foster Care Employee.
A Short Introduction to Attachment and Attachment Disorder (Colby Pearce)
- An easy-to-read overview of the world of Bowlby and his contemporaries.
*Both Holly Van Gulden and Daniel Hughes frequently visit Scotland and do excellent training courses for various organisations.
See Krish Kandiah’s blog (President of London School of Theology) for other helpful books
Empty Womb, Aching Heart (Marlo Schalesky)
- This book is an accurate representation of the agonising trial of infertility. Not all the stories have the happy ending we expect to find, but it shows God’s faithfulness in blessing lives, with or without children. It deals honestly with the emotional, mental and spiritual challenges infertility brings.
When The Cradle is Empty (John & Sylvia Van Regenmorter)
- Deals with the emotions and grief of coming to terms with infertility.
Other Helpful Books
Deserted by God? (Sinclair B Ferguson)
- With pastoral affection this book considers selected Psalms where the Psalmist’s sufferings point us to a God who will never desert us and always provide.
Faith in the dark:
daily Bible readings from Job(George M Philip)
- A solid but easily digestible study on the book of Job which is an essential read with bite size reading portions which will teach us that “life is not simple and there is no “simple” gospel that answers all of life’s problems overnight”.
Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (A book down load from desiringGod)
- The contributors John Piper, Joni Eareckson Tada, Steve Saint, Carl Ellis, David Powlison, Dustin Shramek, and Mark Talbot urge readers to look to Christ, even in suffering, to find the greatest confidence, deepest comfort, and sweetest fellowship they have ever known.
The Apostles’ Creed: What Christians should always believe (George M Philip)
- However short or long a time we may have been a Christian this book will help us to refocus on why we believe what we believe, inevitably bringing us closer to the God of the Bible.
The Lord our Shepherd(J Douglas MacMillan)
- First published over 20 years ago this book unfolds the deep, comforting and encouraging teaching from Psalm 23, drawing you closer to your Lord and bringing you to still waters.
Why do I suffer?
Suffering & the Sovereignty of God (John Currid)
- A wonderfully sound and solid book, rich in Biblical proofs to keep us focused on God’s goodness in the face of suffering.