Grief Recovery Handbook: The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses Including Health, Career, and Faith, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition

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Overview

Newly updated and expanded to commemorate its twentieth anniversary—this classic resource helps people complete the grieving process and move toward recovery and happiness.

Incomplete recovery from grief can have a lifelong negative effect on the capacity for happiness. Drawing from their own histories as well as from others', the authors illustrate how it is possible to recover from grief and regain energy and spontaneity. Based on a proven program, The Grief Recovery Handbook ...

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Overview

Newly updated and expanded to commemorate its twentieth anniversary—this classic resource helps people complete the grieving process and move toward recovery and happiness.

Incomplete recovery from grief can have a lifelong negative effect on the capacity for happiness. Drawing from their own histories as well as from others', the authors illustrate how it is possible to recover from grief and regain energy and spontaneity. Based on a proven program, The Grief Recovery Handbook offers grievers the specific actions needed to move beyond loss. New material in this edition includes guidance for dealing with:

  • Loss of faith
  • Loss of career and financial issues
  • Loss of health
  • Growing up in an alcoholic or dysfunctional home
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Editorial Reviews

Bernard McGrane
“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.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780061686078
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 3/3/2009
  • Edition description: Twentieth Anniversary Expanded Edition
  • Edition number: 20
  • Pages: 224
  • Sales rank: 53,525
  • Product dimensions: 5.30 (w) x 7.90 (h) x 0.70 (d)

Meet 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®.

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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Read an Excerpt

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

Chapter One

Grief: A Neglected and Misunderstood Process

Grief is the normal and natural reaction to loss of any kind. Therefore, the feelings you are having are also normal and natural for you. The problem is that we have all been socialized to believe that these feelings are abnormal and unnatural.

While grief is normal and natural, and clearly the most powerful of all emotions, it is also the most neglected and misunderstood experience, often by both the grievers and those around them.

Grief is the conflicting feelings caused by the end of or change in a -familiar pattern of behavior. What do we mean by conflicting feelings? Let us explain by example. When someone you love dies after suffering a long illness, you may feel a sense of relief that your loved one's suffering is over. That is a positive feeling, even though it is associated with a death. At the same time, you may realize that you can no longer see or touch that person. This may be very painful for you. These conflicting feelings, relief and pain, are totally normal in response to death.

What about divorce? Are there conflicting feelings too? Yes. You may feel a genuine sense of freedom now that the battles are over. That is a positive feeling. At the same time, you may be afraid that you will never "find someone as beautiful/as good a provider." These conflicting feelings, freedom and fear, are also natural responses to loss.

All relationships have aspects offamiliarity whether they are romantic, social, familial, or business. What other losses cause similar conflicting feelings? While death and divorce are obvious, many other loss experiences have been identified that can produce grief. Among them are:

Death of a pet
Moving
Starting school
Death of a former spouse
Marriage
Graduation
End of addictions
Major health changes
Retirement
Financial changes-positive or negative
Holidays
Legal problems
Empty nest

Often these common life experiences are not seen as grieving events. We grieve for the loss of all relationships we deem significant - which are thus also emotional.

If the major loss events in your life have not been associated with death, do not put this book down.

After twenty years of working with grievers, we have identified several other losses, including loss of trust, loss of safety, and loss of control of one's body (physical or sexual abuse). Society still does not recognize these losses as grief issues.

Loss-of-trust events are experienced by almost everyone and can have a major, lifelong negative impact. You may have experienced a loss of trust in a parent, a loss of trust in God, or a loss of trust in any other relationship. Is loss of trust a grief issue? The answer is yes. And the problem of dealing with the grief it causes remains the same. Grief is normal and natural, but we have been ill prepared to deal with it. Grief is about a broken heart, not a broken brain. All efforts to heal the heart with the head fail because the head is the wrong tool for the job. It's like trying to paint with a hammer-it only makes a mess.

Almost all intellectual comments are preceded by the phrase, "Don't feel bad." In 1977, when John's infant son died, a well-meaning friend said, "Don't feel bad-you can have other children." The intellectually accurate statement that John had the physical capability to have other children was not only irrelevant, it was unintentionally abusive, because it belittled his natural and normal emotions. John felt bad, his heart was broken.

When Russell and his first wife divorced, he was devastated. A friend said, "Don't feel bad-you'll do better next time." Most of the comments that grievers hear following a loss, while intellectually accurate, are emotionally barren. As a direct result of these conflicting ideas, a griever often feels confused and frustrated, feelings that lead to emotional isolation.

Since most of us have been socialized to attempt to resolve all issues with our intellect, grief remains a huge problem.This intellectual focus has even led to academic articles that suggest gender is an issue in grief. We recognize that males and females are socialized differently, but our experience indicates that males and females are similarly limited when it comes to dealing with sad, painful, and negative feelings. Feelings themselves are without gender. There is no such thing as girl sad or boy sad, girl happy or boy happy.

We are not saying that intellect is totally useless in regard to grief In fairness, you are reading a book, which is an intellectual activity. The book will ask you to understand concepts and to take actions, so clearly there is a degree of intellect involved.

Grief and Recovery

For many, seeing this book's title is the first time they have ever seen the terms "grief' and "recovery" used together. Religious and spiritual leaders have pointed out for centuries that we should look at loss as an opportunity for personal spiritual development. Yet in modern life, moving through intense emotional pain has become such a misunderstood process that most of us have very little idea of how to respond to loss.

What do we mean by recovery? Recovery means feeling better. Recovery means claiming your circumstances instead of your circumstances claiming you and your happiness. Recovery is finding new meaning for living, without the fear of being hurt again. Recovery is being able to enjoy fond memories without having them precipitate painful feelings of regret or remorse. Recovery is acknowledging that it is perfectly all right to feel sad from time to time and to talk about those feelings no matter how those around you react. Recovery is being able to forgive others when they say or do things that you know are based on their lack of knowledge about grief. Recovery is one day realizing that your ability to talk about the loss you've experienced is indeed normal and healthy...

The Grief Recovery Handbook, 20th Anniversary Expanded Edition
The Action Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Losses including Health, Career, and Faith
. Copyright © by John W. James. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Table of Contents

Introduction xiii

Part 1 Seeing the Problem

How to Use The Grief Recovery Handbook 2

1 Grief: A Neglected and Misunderstood Process 3

Grief and Recovery 6

Staying Open to Grief 7

Grief Recovery: How Does It Work? 8

An Incomplete Past May Doom the Future 9

2 Compounding the Problem 11

Confusion About Stages 11

What About Anger? 12

Common Responses 13

Getting Over or Getting Complete 15

When Is It Time to Begin to Recover? 16

Suicide, Murder, AIDS, and Other Tragic Circumstances 18

The "G" Word 19

Survivor: Another Inaccurate Word 20

There Is Nothing Wrong with You 21

3 We Are Ill Prepared to Deal with Loss 23

We're Taught How to Acquire Things, Not What to Do When We Lose Them 24

We're Taught Myths About Dealing with Grief 26

Participating in Your Own Recovery 35

Loss of Trust 36

Practice Makes Habits 37

4 Others Are Ill Prepared to Help Us Deal with Loss 39

They Don't Know What to Say 39

They're Afraid of Our Feelings 41

They Try to Change the Subject 42

They Intellectualize 43

They Don't Hear Us 45

They Don't Want to Talk About Death 46

Professional Distortions 47

They Want Us to Keep Our Faith 49

5 Academy Award Recovery 52

Enshrine or Bedevil? 53

We Want the Approval of Others 54

"I'm Fine" Is Often a Lie 55

We Begin to Experience a Massive Loss of Energy 56

We Experience a Loss of Aliveness 57

Part 2 Preparing for Change: Starting to Recover

6 Your First Choice: Choosing to Recover 61

Who Is Responsible? 62

Your Second Choice: Partnership or Working Alone 66

Finding a Partner 67

7 Setting the Guidelines 69

Initial Partners Meeting 69

Making Commitments 70

FirstHomework Assignment 72

Review Thoughts and Reminders 74

Second Partners Meeting 75

8 Identifying Short-Term Energy Relievers 77

Short-Term Relief Doesn't Work 79

Identifying Your Short-Term Energy-Relieving Behaviors 81

Second Homework Assignment 82

Third Partners Meeting 83

9 The Loss History Graph 85

Compare and Minimize 86

Loss History Graph Examples 86

What Goes on the Loss History Graph 97

Third Homework Assignment: Preparing Your Loss History Graph 98

Time and Intensity 100

Learning from Your Loss History Graph 102

Fourth Partners Meeting 103

Part 3 Finding the Solution

10 What Is Incompleteness? 109

How to Identify What Is Incomplete 111

Choosing a Loss to Complete 113

More Help Choosing the First Loss to Work On and Questions about Other Losses 114

11 Introducing the Relationship Graph 115

The Relationship Graph Is Different from the Loss History Graph 115

Completing Is Not Forgetting 116

Accurate Memory Pictures: Your Part 117

Truth Is the Key to Recovery 118

Even Long Illnesses End in Unfinished Business 119

Hopes, Dreams, and Expectations 120

The Relationship Graph 122

Fourth Homework Assignment: Making Your Relationship Graph 129

Dawn of Memory-the Death of an Infant 130

Fifth Partners Meeting 134

12 Almost Home: Converting the Relationship Graph into Recovery Components 136

Apologies 136

Victims Have Difficulty with Apologies 137

Forgiveness 138

Significant Emotional Statements 140

Fifth Homework Assignment: Putting It All Together 142

Sixth Partners Meeting 143

Moving from Discovery to Completion 145

Final Homework Assignment: The Grief Recovery Completion Letter<$$$> 145

Important Note 151

Final Partners Meeting: Reading Your Letter 151

What Does Completion Mean? 155

Stuck on a Painful Image 157

What About New Discoveries? Cole's Window Story 158

More Help with Relationship Graphs and Completion Letters 160

13 What Now? 161

Cleanup Work 162

Part 4 More on Choices and Other Losses

14 More on Choices-Which Loss to Work on First 169

Start with Relationships You Remember 169

Other First Choice Concerns: Hidden or Disguised Choices 171

15 Guidelines for Working on Specific Losses 174

Death or Absence of Parent from an Early Age 174

Infant Loss and Infertility 178

Alzheimer's-Dementia 179

Growing Up in an Alcoholic or Otherwise Dysfunctional Home 181

Unique Loss Graphing Situations: Faith, Career, Health, Moving 182

Moving 194

Miscellaneous Tips 197

The Final Word 201

The Grief Recovery Institute: Services and Programs 203

Acknowledgments 206

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 13 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 13 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 15, 2010

    Grief Recovery Handbook

    My husband recently lost his 40-year-old son. This book has been so very helpful to him through his grieving process. We have already recommended it to others for its no-nonsense, caring, straight-talking advice.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted September 3, 2009

    Best help I could find

    I was introduced to this handbook by my grief counselor. It has been the ONLY book that has given me some real, concrete steps to take as I recover from the death of my 22 year old son.

    2 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2013

    Great book! I have stuggled in various ways with my mom's death

    Great book! I have stuggled in various ways with my mom's death for over 30 years. the exercises and advice in this book finally bought relief. and bonus! they also apply to other issues in life :)

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 10, 2010

    This Book Will Truly Help You

    Everyone experiences loss and sometimes, even as a friend or loved one, we fell powerless in knowing how to help the person or ourselves. That's where this book comes in. This book is a huge step in dealing with that grief. I'd also recommend that you buy "When God Stopped Keeping Score," which takes an intimate look at the power of God and forgiveness. This book too will change your life.

    1 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 19, 2010

    A great help

    This book was given to me by a friend after the passing of my father. It has been immensely helpful in moving me toward recovery. I have since bought three additional copies for family members and have recommended the book to another friend who recently lost her husband.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 23, 2015

    In order to heal, one must first relearn what is normal grief

    We are all ill equipped to deal with grief. We have been socialized to stuff it, pretend we're okay, however none of the things we've been taught about loss helps one heal from a devastating loss. Whether it be the death of a very special loved one, divorce or major disruption to what we know as our life we have NATRUAL emotions that occur yet we are taught we should feel that way.
    This handbook, whether working on your own or with a partner walks you through the necessary steps to deal with, and move forward in to a new normal not leaving the past behind, but carrying with you the things that are what you fell in love with and eventually incorporate them into your every day life.
    I recommend this book for anyone who feels stuck and unable to move forward however small those step are, so that you can learn to carry the good forward with you

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 25, 2014

    Excellent info for anyone dealing with loss

    This book provides a process that I found very helpful in dealing with the death of a loved one. It is worthwhile for anyone who has suffered a loss, such as divorce, loss of a job, death of a family member or a close friend, for some it might be the stress of a major life change such as retirement. The process this book suggests can be used for a variety of grieving situations. It is concise and easy to follow. I definitely recommend it for anyone who has suffered a loss.

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