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The Best Grief Book of All Time

I know I’m going out on a limb proclaiming a book “The Best Grief Book of All Time,” but that’s exactly how I feel about Tear Soup.Tear Soup

Upon first glance, Tear Soup appears to be a children’s book. It is handsomely illustrated with beautiful, and somewhat whimsical, drawings.

And Tear Soup is for children. But it’s also for teenagers, adults, seniors, and anyone who has lost anything, not just someone.

The first page sums up the entire book:

“There once was an old and somewhat wise woman whom everyone called Grandy.

She just suffered a big loss in her life. Pops, her husband, suffered the same loss, but in his own way. This is the story of how Grandy faced her loss by setting out to make tear soup.”

Just what is tear soup?

It is the concoction that is made up of all your memories, feelings, and experiences you have while you grieve. Here, let’s see Grandy’s recipe for tear soup found on the inside cover of the book (with gratitude to authors Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen:)

Helpful ingredients to consider:

  • A pot full of tears
  • One heart willing to be broken open
  • A dash of bitters
  • A bunch of good friends
  • Many handfuls of comfort food
  • A lot of patience
  • Buckets of water to replace the tears
  • Plenty of exercise
  • A variety of helpful reading material
  • Enough self care
  • Season with memories
  • Optional: one good therapist and/or support group


Choose the size pot that fits your loss. It’s okay to increase pot size if you miscalculated. Combine ingredients. Set the temperature for a moderate heat. Cooking times will vary depending on the ingredients needed. Strong flavors will mellow over time. Stir often. Cook no longer than you need to.


  • Be creative
  • Trust your instincts
  • Cry when you want to, laugh when you can.
  • Freeze some soup to use as a starter for next time.
  • Keep your own soup making journal so you won’t forget.

Serves: One.

Tear Soup is written by a mother-and-son team. Pat Schwiebert is a nurse who has worked in the area of bereavement for over twenty-five years. She is part of a hospice ministry where the people in her care are “loved to death.”

Chuck DeKlyen has a background in the theater. Perhaps this is where the lovely story and beautiful “sets” of Taylor Bills’ warm illustrations came from.

The reader is drawn easily into the story of Grandy’s big loss. And we are also comforted by the presence of Grandy’s unnamed dog who is by her side throughout the cooking of her tear soup, sometimes with tears in his own eyes. He is unquestionably loyal and loving.

Tear Soup is a book I have read over and over again, both while making my own tear soup and at other times when my soup is in the freezer but I just want to be warmed by the gentleness of the message in the book. It is my favorite book to give to friends who have their own big loss in their lives.

At the end of the book, Grandy tells her grandson, Chester, that one of the hardest parts about making tear soup is “when you decide it may be okay to eat something instead of soup

Tear Soup dog

all the time.”

Chester asks, “So what else have you leaned by making tear soup, Grandy?”

“I’ve learned that grief, like a pot of soup, changes the longer it simmers and the more things you put into it. I’ve learned that sometimes people say unkind things, but they really don’t mean to hurt you.

“And most importantly, I’ve learned that there is something down deep within all of us ready to help us survive the things we think we can’t survive.”

“Grandy,” asks Chester, “You know so much. What will I do after you die?”

“Don’t worry,” the old and somewhat wise woman responds, “I’ll leave you my recipe for tear soup.”


Interested in purchasing Tear Soup? Here’s a handy link:  Tear Soup: A Recipe for Healing After Loss


Want other ideas for bouncing back in life? Download my FREE ebook, Bounce Back! 5 keys to survive and thrive through life’s ups and downs.

The Best Grief Book of All Time

Bobbi Emel, MFT

Psychotherapist Bobbi Emel specializes in helping people face life’s significant challenges and regain their resiliency. In addition to seeing clients in her private practice, Bobbi is a well-regarded speaker and writer. Check out her other writing at The Bounce Blog.

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APA Reference
Emel, B. (2013). The Best Grief Book of All Time. Psych Central. Retrieved on July 23, 2019, from


Last updated: 3 Jun 2013
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