Grief workbooks are an added tool to your healing journey that provide you with helpful insight into how you’re feeling about coping with your grief. Not only can you map out your next steps, but you can retrace those you’ve already taken to get to where you are now. These workbooks are an excellent addition and companion to other forms of grief work after suffering a setback.
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Both adults and children greatly benefit from exploring their pain and sorrow after experiencing the death of a loved one or enduring another type of significant loss. Therapists, social workers, clergy, and bereavement care workers often supplement their therapies with these workbooks to help you grow from some of life’s greatest challenges.
The ultimate goals of healing through grief work are to get to know yourself better and understand the triggers that cause you the most pain and suffering.
What’s a Grief Workbook?
A grief workbook is designed to help you heal from loss so that you can move past your pain and suffering in a healthy way. The worksheets found within are designed to get you thinking about why you're feeling a certain way about your loss experience and the hidden reasons behind your pain that you might have buried deep within due to past loss or trauma.
Workbooks are valuable tools when feeling overwhelmed or stuck in your grief, and they guide you into healing by putting your thoughts, feelings, and emotions into perspective.
The specific goals of most grief workbooks are to help you:
- Recognize your grief
- Work through your emotions
- Find your specific triggers
- Accept your loss
- Move past your grief in a healthy way
What Features Should You Look for in a Grief Workbook?
When searching for a grief workbook, look for one that interests you to begin with. You'll want to make sure that the focus of the workbook aims at healing the type of grief you're experiencing and addresses your specific kind of trauma. If you're currently undergoing grief counseling, ask your counselor for a recommendation that supplements the grief work they're presently guiding you through.
The workbook you choose should supplement and not replace what you and your counselor or therapist are working on. The two should never be at odds.
The next thing you'll want to pay attention to is the workbook's types of activities. Make sure that they resonate with your personality and beliefs. If, for example, you're not keen on journaling, then a workbook that asks you to keep a daily or weekly journal won't work for you.
You may find that the work is tedious, making you lose focus or interest in your grief work. A good workbook for you makes you look forward to what's next, even when the assignments are emotionally painful.
Popular Grief Workbooks for Adults
There is an abundance of grief workbooks out in the market for you to choose from. You may feel overwhelmed when deciding which one to go with. An excellent place to start is by checking if any of your favorite books on coping with grief have a workbook accompaniment. Many do, and you can find them through online retailers like Amazon or Barnes and Noble.
Below, you’ll find some of the most popular grief workbooks to help you map out and get started on your healing journey.
1. Remembering for Good by Cath Duncan
In her e-workbook on coping with grief, Remembering for Good, author Cath Duncan takes a different approach to grief and healing. She does away with the traditional way of thinking grief is an illness that needs fixing and a condition we must gain closure from.
Alternatively, she sees grief as a way of connecting with your inner self and sparking your creativity as you heal from the pain of loss. Duncan encourages you to process your grief in a way that makes sense to you and look out for manifestations in your creativity beyond the traditional art forms.
2. On the Wings of Grief by Simpler Times
On the Wings of Grief: A Bereavement Journal for Adults is a free .pdf journal workbook that guides you through your grief at whatever stage you’re in. The workbook takes you from the very beginning of your grief journey and forces you to reconnect to those past feelings while reflecting on where you now stand in comparison.
This workbook gives you valuable insight into how emotions ebb and flow based on your memories of your loved one and the time shared. You’ll also get prompts to focus on your future so that you can try envisioning what that might look like.
3. Transforming Grief and Loss by Ligia M Houben, MA, FT, FAAGC, CPC
The Transforming Grief workbook focuses on coaching yourself to happiness after loss. You’ll learn some invaluable tips and insights on the principles of transformation from a cognitive behavioral therapy perspective and those linked to psychology and spirituality.
With this workbook, you’ll focus on the value of starting over, trying new things, and finding meaning through your loss. If you practice mindfulness and meditation, this workbook might be the right fit for you.
4. Progressing Through Grief by Stephanie Jose LMHC LCAT (Author), and Cécile Rêve LMHC (Foreword)
Progressing Through Grief: Guided Exercises to Understand Your Emotions and Recover from Loss reminds you that grief is a natural and normal reaction to loss. You’ll learn to recognize specific emotional and behavioral responses to loss that often seem out of character for you that make you question your sanity.
This workbook is interactive and allows you to begin each day right where you are as you progress through your grief journey, considering the uniqueness of grieving in each individual. You’ll learn the skills necessary to deal with the emotional ebbs and flows attached to your grief and understand how grieving affects your mind and body.
5. Grieving the Write Way Journal and Workbook by Gary Roe
Grieving the Write Way manifests the author’s journey with grief after losing his father and the sole parent to a heart attack when the author was a young boy. Through his experience, he wrote his way through the different stages of grief. He wrote about his sadness, confusion, anger, fear, guilt, and anxiety. As he experienced subsequent losses, he continued writing.
Now, through his journaling workbook, he espouses the many healing virtues of writing as a form of healing from grief. He teaches bereaved individuals how to incorporate writing or journaling in their journey through suffering and toward healing.
Popular Grief Workbooks for Children
Children grieve much differently than adults and can significantly benefit from guided grief work to help them cope with significant losses in their lives. Grief manifests in children as behavioral issues, difficulty concentrating and lagging in school.
Children express their grief by withdrawing from friends and family and showing disinterest in doing things they once liked. Grief work helps children process and understand their loss while assisting them in recognizing their feelings and emotions and their emotional triggers. The following workbooks consider a child’s grieving style to help children get through the loss.
6. When Someone Very Special Dies: Children Can Learn to Cope With Grief by Marge Heegaard
When Someone Very Special Dies is a workbook specifically for children to learn the necessary coping skills to get them through the different stages of grief. The workbook guides them through storytelling prompts that help children with the creative process of telling their stories to begin to understand grief and loss when someone they love dies. The exercises aim to:
- Reduce the intensity of grief
- Speed up the healing process
- Counteract negative emotional responses
7. How I Feel: A Coloring Book for Grieving Children by Alan Wolfelt, Ph.D
The How I Feel coloring workbook geared toward children ages three to nine helps them recognize their emotional responses to grief. Through the guided prompts, children learn to label their feelings and emotions to identify them later as they come up.
The goals of this workbook are to teach children the different possible reactions to grief, how to tell what they’re feeling, and how to express those emotions. They also learn to share their grief with others and that it’s okay to cry or feel happy as they go through their grief journey.
8. The Grief Bubble by Kerry DeBay ATR-BC, LMHC, CTS
The Grief Bubble is an activity book aiming to help children understand and recognize grief in terms of life being normal before the tragedy and what it’s like after someone they love dies. The book prompts them to think about the different feelings and emotions they experience through their loss.
Once those feelings start taking shape in their head, they’re encouraged to draw out what they envision so they can see their grief reactions taking shape in front of their eyes. This workbook includes the grief experiences of other children who’ve also lost a loved one to guide and encourage children that things eventually get better.
9. My Heart Hurts: A Grief Workbook for Children by Karen Jaggers LPC
My Heart Hurts is a workbook for older children and teens experiencing the heartache of losing someone they love to help them understand the emotional responses they're dealing with. The workbook unravels the mysteries of the grief process for children while guiding adults on how to confront difficult conversations with a grieving child.
One unique aspect of this workbook is that it addresses some common questions children and teens ask during private counseling sessions, and it tackles some of the questions children may be too shy to talk about with their friends and loved ones.
10. The Invisible String Workbook: Creative Activities to Comfort, Calm, and Connect by Patrice Karst (Author), Dana Wyss (Author), Joanne Lew-Vriethoff (Illustrator)
The Invisible String Workbook is an extremely popular workbook with over one million copies currently sold that uses a combination of art, writing activities, and reflection cards to help children cope with grief. The exercises work on rebuilding self-esteem and healthy relationships through the power of love. Children who’ve experienced a recent loss or separation will learn to:
- Explore their relationships
- Heal through Communication
- Build stronger attachments
Working Through Your Grief
Almost everyone who experiences grief after the loss of a loved one will struggle with understanding what’s happening to them. Some may recognize the grief reactions but not why they’re feeling the way they are, especially when their responses don’t match their thoughts. Workbooks help break down the grieving process, the hows and whys of how certain feelings creep up and understand the emotional reactions to grief.