Book Reviews, Books, Ministry, Pastoral Life

Book Review: Grief Day By Day by Jan Warner

Title: Grief Day by Day: Simple Practices and Daily Guidance for Living with Loss 

Author: Jan Warner

Length: 272 Pages

Publisher: Althea Press

Available from Amazon and free on Kindle Unlimited!

Book Review


Reading Grief Day by Day gave me a great deal of comfort. The daily quotes that Warner selected were beautiful and deeply moving. I couldn’t help but shed a tear once or twice while reading Warner’s thoughtful meditations on grief.

As a pastor in the United Methodist Church, I have lost count of the number of funerals over which I have presided. Although I know my loved ones have gone home to be with God, my heart still mourns for the passing of each and every one of them. 

The author, Jan Warner, has a master’s degree in counseling as well as experience working with suicide prevention. I appreciated how Warner directly engaged with the writings of Elisabeth Kubler-Ross. I studied the work of Kubler-Ross in seminary and I have found her work to be helpful in my own practice of pastoral care and counseling.

Warner argues that grief is both deeply complex and individual. Often, we talk about the stages of grief, but Warner reminds her readers that there is no “right” way to experience mourning. This is an important reminder in our rushed society. Often we encourage people to bury their grief and place a social stigma on intense mourning. As Warner points out, such denial can be deeply unhealthy for grieving individuals.

I would describe Grief Day By Day as a secular devotional. Warner provides a quote and brief meditation on grief for each day of the year. She has divided the book into 52 chapters (one for each week of the year) and centered each chapter around a weekly theme. Some of my favorite weeks were entitled, “Mood Swings/Grief Attacks,” “Physical Symptoms,” “Showing Up,” and “Helping Others.” 

At the end of each week, Warner provides a guided meditation or exercise that the reader can use in order to help to tame their grief.  I found many of these exercises to be surprisingly clever and effective. I plan to use some of these exercises in my own practice of pastoral care and counseling.

The reader can choose to work through the book in chronological order or they can dip in to the book randomly. Either way, the reader will find the quotes compelling and Warner’s short meditations to be deeply soulful.

It is clear from Warner’s sensitive writing that she has done a great deal of research in her field and that she has a heart for working with the bereaved. Warner’s writing, both on her website and her Facebook page, has offered comfort to many people who are grieving. Jan Warner was inspired to start “Grief Speaks Out,” and to make herself available to others who are grieving after experiencing the loss of her own husband.

The particularly delightful thing about this book is that it is short and well grounded in an understanding of psychology; therefore, even someone who does not enjoy reading could find solace in Warner’s writing.

This book would be appropriate for inter-faith work. Although Warner expresses belief in a higher power and provides quotes from popular Christian theologians such as C.S. Lewis, there is nothing overtly Christian about her writing. On that point, there were one or two exercises that I found to be a bit too “neo-pagan” for my taste, but I realize that is a matter of personal preference.

One other note of gentle constructive criticism: I wish that Warner would have provided both the name of piece from which she pulled the many quotes in Grief Day by Day as well as the name of the author. I wanted to read the entire piece from which some of these quotes were pulled but I was unable to find their source.

For example, Warner quotes from both Max Lucado and Rev. Nadia Bolz-Weber (two of my favorite authors). Both of these theologians have written widely and I’m not sure which book or sermon she was quoting. This is a minor problem that could easily be fixed in future editions.

I would recommend this book to anyone who is grieving or has experienced loss in their own life. I would even consider providing this book (along with some other more faith based resources) to parishioners who have recently lost a loved one. I have even pulled from some of Warner’s writing for one of my own upcoming sermons about grief and loss.


Note: I received a free digital copy of this book for Kindle in exchange for an honest review. 


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Have you read any books that have helped you deal with loss in your own life? Let me know in the comments!

Also, don’t forget to follow me on Twitter and Instagram! I would love to connect with you and talk more about books! 


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