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The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith Paperback – March 3, 2009

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This book is required for all my classes. The more I use this book, the more I believe that unresolved grief is the major underlying issue in most people’s lives. It is the only work of its kind that I know of that outlines the problem and provides the solution.” (Bernard McGrane, Ph.D., Professor of Sociology, Chapman University)

About the Author

John W. James and Russell Friedman have been working with grievers for more than thirty years. They have served as consultants to thousands of bereavement professionals and provide Grief Recovery® Seminars and Certification Programs throughout the United States and Canada. They are the founders of the Grief Recovery Institute®.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; 20th,Anniversary edition (March 3, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061686077
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061686078
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.5 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (240 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,870 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

215 of 223 people found the following review helpful By Alex Hanisch on December 30, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
The introductory chapters to the book contain an interesting overview of grief in general and offer many valuable insights to those suffering from any kind of loss. However, the actual recovery program, presented as a series of exercises, is founded on two bases which may not be suitable for everyone.

1) You're pretty much expected to work with a partner. The authors take pains to say you don't HAVE to work with a partner, but then each new exercise begins with an invitation to "reconsider" your choice to work without a partner and to "examine your reasons" for choosing to work alone. For people who have turned to books because they lack any other kind of support network, this constant prodding can be uncomfortable and may even serve to add to their feelings of loneliness.

2) The program is designed to help you move past your regrets and/or bring closure to any "unfinished business" that remains since the loss occurred. The primary tools are timelines/charts and communication (written and - if you're working with a partner - verbal). Because unresolved issues do tend to trap many people in their grief, this program would no doubt be of great use to many people. However, there are other sides to grief, issues which may not necessarily have their roots in "unfinished business", and there doesn't seem to be much acknowledgement of those other issues in this book.

Basically, if you're trapped in a cycle of "if only" and it's preventing you from dealing with your grief, this book will probably help you. But if you're at peace with the past and are simply struggling to cope with the future in the face of your loss, this may not be the book for you.
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54 of 54 people found the following review helpful By the_wordgirl on November 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
I read this book a few years ago, while I was in the midst of an unraveling relationship. I was coping with that loss and a very difficult year and dealing with 20 years of unresolved grief from my father's death when I was six. At the time, I had taken baby steps toward healing by finally opening up to my friends and loved ones, but I was having a great deal of difficulty moving on. I decided to take a course on Death and Dying as part of my degree program, and this book was required reading. Not only did I have to read it, I had to do all the exercises and share them with people in the course.

I hated every single minute of it--mostly because, I think, I wasn't altogether ready to rip off the scabs from years of suffering. I was also never an open person, so it felt trite and intrusive. Despite that feeling, I gave it my all. I rolled my eyes a lot and complained a lot. I didn't think it helped at all. Shortly thereafter, my Mama got terminally ill. I had to basically give up my life to take care of her. I found myself face-to-face with so much grief in such a short amount of time that I didn't know how to even breathe. But I realized that I was able to face the grief this time because of the work I'd done with this book. After my Mama passed away, I used the techniques in the book to deal with these new pains. And I've since tried to do these things for every unresolved event/painful relationship in my life.

This book is not miraculous, but it does give you a method of doing the work you need to do. For me, no matter what grief it is, the key is to acknowledge it exists. That's what this book does. It provides a gate to fully acknowledging the pain in your life--sometimes, the pain is connected to other pain and you're unaware of it.
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45 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Jessie Menendez on September 28, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
One very simple truth is brought forth in this powerful little book. Bluntly, the majority of our society does not know how or even want to deal with the negative ("bad") feelings which are the natural response to loss.

We've been trained that "boys don't cry", "have a cookie and you'll feel better", "forget the past", in other words stuff the feelings that make other people uncomfortable. Or as a good friend of mine use to do, compartmentalize: put everything in boxes in your mind and put them on a shelf in the back so you don't have to deal with them and they don't have to bother anyone else.

Unfortunately, emotional pain can be like an infection in your body. It may be scabbed over, but it's going to keep festering until you do what is necessary to heal it. Some people respond to the built up, festering pain by actually becoming physically ill. Some people grab an uzi and head to the mall. Then some people become angry, bitter people who turn to alcohol and/or drugs to numb the lifetime of unresolved pain. Either way the outcome isn't good for that person or the people around him/her.

This book helps the reader to understand these concepts clearly and simply. Then it gives you tools to finally heal. If you have lost a loved one to death, rest assured that the goal is NOT for you to bury them again, by trying to make you let go of your relationship with that person. It IS about expressing the pain caused by the loss and letting go of only that pain so that you can remember your loved one with a smile instead of a knife in the heart.

After my husband passed away, I worked with a grief recovery coach who trained at the Grief Recovery Institute with the authors of this book and founders of the institute.
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