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Unattended Sorrow: Recovering from Loss and Reviving the Heart
     

Unattended Sorrow: Recovering from Loss and Reviving the Heart

by Stephen Levine
 

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What does unattended sorrow look like? It is like a low-grade fever; it troubles our sleep and drains away our days; it scatters intuition and creates an underlying anxiety; it sours the eye and the ear and leaves a distaste in the mouth; it's the vague uncertainty that permeates every thought before every action; it's the heart working as hard as it can.

It's what

Overview

What does unattended sorrow look like? It is like a low-grade fever; it troubles our sleep and drains away our days; it scatters intuition and creates an underlying anxiety; it sours the eye and the ear and leaves a distaste in the mouth; it's the vague uncertainty that permeates every thought before every action; it's the heart working as hard as it can.

It's what most of us carry with us from day to day.

And it's what renowned grief counselor Stephen Levine, author of Who Dies? and A Gradual Awakening, focuses on here. He writes that long after the initial loss has passed and the "period of grieving" has ended, an unattended sorrow lingers, accounting for a host of physical, emotional, and spiritual maladies. It's not uncommon, then, for those with unresolved grief to lean toward addictions or dangerous behaviors or other forms of self-destruction.

Levine addresses the grief from fresh loss but also attends to the pain and troubles caused by the unresolved anguish, sadness, and delayed stress that can accumulate over a lifetime-whether it's angst caused by death, the loss of self-identity, childhood abuse, illness, divorce, or even just being alive in today's world.

Levine notes that though we may never wholly overcome the sorrows we've endured, we can confront them with mercy and self-acceptance that smoothes the path to healing the heart.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
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. Agent, Loretta Barrett Books. (Feb.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher

“A wise and compassionate exploration of grief can be a doorway into greater presence and connection with life. Stephen Levine's rich experience of accompanying people as they navigate pain resonates deeply in Unattended Sorrow.” —Sharon Salzberg, author of Faith: Trusting Your Own Deepest Experience

“Stephen Levine offers profound and intense wisdom in Unattended Sorrow. His poetic, deeply felt words about grief, loss and the nature of being human distill and transcend his brilliant, earlier work. Reading these pages is not just powerfully illuminating; it is an experience of deep healing.” —Belleruth Naparstek

“Stephen Levine's wise and beautiful book, Unattended Sorrow, encourages us to be kind and merciful students of ourselves through the challenging and sacred process of healing our losses and sorrows. Stephen has created a work filled with loving kindness and compassion. To read this book is an experience of healing.” —Barry Neil Kaufman, Author of Happiness Is A Choice, Co-Founder and Executive Director of The Option Institute

“Stephen arouses the energy and truth from within the deepest core of ourselves. The healing that is possible leads us to do the work that we took birth for. We are able to move from a sense of being broken apart to a sense of wholeness.” —Fred Schwartz, M.D., Medical Director, Hospice of New York

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781594863813
Publisher:
Rodale Press, Inc.
Publication date:
02/07/2006
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
240
Product dimensions:
5.50(w) x 8.46(h) x 0.67(d)

Meet the Author

STEPHEN LEVINE's many best-selling books include A Gradual Awakening and Who Dies? His renowned work in grief counseling has been featured in television programs on PBS and CNN, in radio segments, and in magazine articles. He lives in Chamisal, New Mexico.

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