School of Philosophy, Psychology & Language Sciences

Grief: A Philosophical Guide

Professor Michael Cholbi’s ground-breaking book examining grief is available now.

Grief book by Michael Cholbi

Experiencing grief is one of the aspects of life that unites us all. It is perhaps surprising then that so few philosophers have approached the subject in depth.

In his new book ‘Grief: A Philosophical Guide’ Professor of Philosophy Michael Cholbi draws on psychology, social science and literature as well as philosophy to present a ground-breaking examination of this emotional event.

In the book Professor Cholbi explains that we grieve for the loss of those whom our identities are invested, from our close relatives to people we don’t know but still cherish, such as public figures. 

He argues that we should embrace grief as an important part of a good and meaningful life.

A unique and powerful opportunity

Cholbi identifies that grief offers us a unique and powerful opportunity to grow in self-knowledge by fashioning a new identity. Although grief can be tumultuous and disorienting, it also reflects our distinctly human capacity to rationally adapt as the relationships we depend on evolve.

Commenting on his motivation for undertaking research in this area, and authoring his book, Professor Cholbi stated:

“Philosophers have said very little about grief, despite its centrality to human experience. And when they have addressed grief, their attitudes toward it have often been dismissive, even antagonistic.”

I was motivated to write this book both to bring greater philosophical attention to grief but also to cast it in a better light: as an admittedly difficult experience, but one that’s essential to human life and from which we can benefit.”

Michael Cholbi holds a Chair in Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh. Further info on his book and the research underpinning this is available at Michael’s website:

Grief is published in the US and UK by Princeton University Press:

Grief implicitly calls for a revolution in how philosophy understands itself: It must seek new tools to sustain us through consequential inflection points, such as the long tail of our current pandemic. This time, with feeling.” - The Wall Street Journal.

“In Grief, Michael Cholbi, a Professor of Philosophy at the University of Edinburgh and author of Suicide: The Philosophical Dimensions, provides an informative, sweeping, and provocative examination of grief as a complex phenomenon when undertaken in response to the death of others.” - Psychology Today.