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Unattended Sorrow: Recovering from Loss and Reviving the Heart Hardcover – January 13, 2005
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"Feelings of loss don't go away; they go deeper," says grief counselor Stephen Levine, whose work over the past 30 years has won acclaim from the likes of [[LINK]][Elisabeth Ku[umlaut]bler-Ross]. He claims that chronic grief can result just as easily from the death of a loved one as it can from everyday disappointments like "unfulfilled ambitions." Whatever the source of one's sense of loss, Levine argues that grief must be thoroughly worked through, or it can lead insidiously to addiction, clinical depression, and other physical complaints. Borrowing heavily from Buddhist teachings, Levine recommends mindfulness meditation as one of several paths to reaching relief through "self-mercy." Unfortunately, as earnest he may be, Levine has a tendency to meanders in his writing, even in chapters that average just five pages in length. He's right that Americans in particular are too-often taught to "swallow our grief," but (likely distraught) readers may have a hard time wading through his ponderings to reach the far-between bits of concrete advice. --Erica Jorgensen
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. According to Levine, "unattended sorrow," even years after a loss, casts a shadow over one's entire life, leading to fear, doubt, shame and, more concretely, eating disorders, troubled sleep and sexual dysfunction. These sorrows, he writes, involve not only death but "the ungrieved losses of love betrayed, of trusts broken, and of the repeated bruises left by unkindness" that, unheeded, "sink well below the level of our awareness." In this valuable addition to the literature on mourning and bereavement, Levine writes in a soothing voice informed by many of the principles of Buddhism, but also encompassing all the major spiritual traditions. Levine (A Gradual Awakening), who has done grief counseling with concentration camp survivors, Vietnam vets and many others, points out that a new loss may be intensified by earlier, unresolved griefs about the death or divorce of parents, the loss of a sibling or other psychological traumas. Levine identifies three stages on the path to easing the anguish of loss: softening the pain, cultivating mercy and making peace with the pain. He recommends a number of techniques, including a breathing exercise to loosen a stomach constricted by fear and denial and periods of silent time spent meditating or walking. All of his easy-to-follow suggestions involve extending kindness and forgiveness to the self, which, Levine says, will lead to the practice of dealing with others in the spirit of mercy and love. Although, as Levine acknowledges, the healing process is slow, opening the pain-filled heart can lead to the unfolding of a new life.
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Top Customer Reviews
If you are looking to understand the grief process from the inside and to gain a fresh perspective on grief, this book will be very helpful. I am a personal growth coach and I recommend this to certain clients, particularly ones who have difficulty surrendering to tender emotions or sadness. There are many tips in here on how to open up to the grieving process in a mindful way and move through it without sweeping it under the rug.
If you like a very linear and logical approach, most likely this book is not for you. However, if you are feeling scared, alone, confused and need to sort out complicated feelings, this may be just what you need.
I worked through his exercises of compassion and forgiveness - not only for my mother but myself. It was very life-changing work for me. I savoured and worked through the book a few pages at a time. I sobbed myself to sleep many nights as I worked through my grief with Unattended Sorrow in hand.
I thank Stephen Levine for such an insightful book. I buy this book for friends who have experienced loss. It is not necessarily a book for reading immediately following a loss, but definitely for me it was the right book at the right time after giving some space and time after the loss.
Sorrow can run deep. Especially when a pattern of grief and sorrow is laid down when you are a child; it can persistently sap your energy, your joy.
What is lovely about this book is that, recognizing the persistent nature of this malaise, it gently speaks to you of other alternatives. When I was in pain, I really appreciated the slow pace; the way it is written with such kindness, and compassion; the gentleness with which the materials are presented. This book is more about helping you find your peace within your sorrow than about expressing tools and techniques; although the tools and techniques are there.
It is a lovely book, and it can be very, very helpful in working through those old patterns. I highly recommend it.