The Gifts of Grief: Finding Light in the Darkness of Loss

The Gifts of Grief: Finding Light in the Darkness of Loss

by Therese Tappouni


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The Gifts of Grief: Finding Light in the Darkness of Loss by Therese Tappouni

This is a thoughtful, comforting, & practical book for those dealing with the pain associated with significant loss. In this book the grieving process has been explored & helps the reader discover new ways to heal from the death of a loved one, the end of a marriage, or financial catastrophe.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781938289095
Publisher: Hierophant Publishing
Publication date: 04/01/2013
Pages: 216
Sales rank: 1,300,759
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

Therese Tappouni is a Certified Clinical and Medical Hypnotherapist, and a licensed HeartMath® provider. Along with her partner, Professor Lance Ware, she is the co-founder of the Isis Institute ( She lives and thrives in Indian Shores, Florida.

Read an Excerpt

the gifts of grief



Hierophant Publishing

Copyright © 2013 Therèse Amrhein Tappouni
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-938289-13-2


Courage—Taking the First Step

Sometimes in the stillness of the quiet, if we listen,
We can hear the whisper in the heart
Giving strength to weakness, courage to fear, hope to despair.

—Howard Thurman, For the Inward Journey

Some of you might have felt anger or resentment when you first saw the title of this book. Perhaps you even left it on the shelf for a time, saying it is impossible to find a gift in such agony. I understand. The Gifts of Grief title was chosen for those who are ready and willing to create a new path through life. Wendell Berry said, "It may be that when we no longer know what to do we have come to our real work and that when we no longer know which way to go we have begun our real journey." I believe that with all my heart, and I don't think there is a better definition of the opportunity present in grief than this one.

How to Read This Book

Think of this book and your grief as a journey—a journey remarkably like Dorothy's in The Wizard of Oz. Life is going along when suddenly, out of nowhere, a tornado touches down and moves you, violently, to a whole new world—the world of grief. Grief resembles a natural disaster, either one that has been accumulating around you, or one that strikes out of the blue and changes everything. This book is a guide through the steps of your journey through grief and into your new life. There is no timetable, and there are no rigid directions. The Gifts of Grief is a process. Your courage, the allies you surround yourself with, and the guidance in these pages will help you find your heart, your compassion, and the intelligence that leads you to your inner strength and, finally, healing.

Like Dorothy, you will have challenges, detours, disappointments, and epiphanies. Take the time you need, not what others suggest is the correct amount. Your journey is as individual as your fingerprints. The only thing I ask of you is that you follow the path from beginning to end—your new beginning—doing the exercises along the way, meditating, and always, always, always recording your journey in a journal. If you feel the need to double back and revisit a certain section, or repeat a section over and over, it is your choice and your intuition that matter. The exercises are meant to be used repeatedly, and retracing your steps often reveals truths missed the first time around. This is a personal path designed to be walked prayerfully in the company of your inner support team.

Exercises: The Path through Grief

In addition to sharing with you my journey through grief, and the gifts and insight I gained along the way, I'm going to show you some meditation exercises to practice. Even if you've never meditated before, it's OK; I will walk you through the process. Meditation is just another word for awareness of breathing, and it is one of the most precious gifts I received through my wounding. Every morning, I meditate and bring my son's spirit into my space.

Set aside between ten and fifteen minutes to complete each of the exercises provided throughout the book. They will help you put into practice what I'm sharing with you here. Many of the exercises are meant to be repeated on a regular basis until they replace the old grooves in the brain. Reading something once is not enough to retrain our habits that may have been established for years. However, repeated use of these tools will create change that you will see quickly, usually within a few weeks of regular use. Deepak Chopra says it takes twenty-one days to establish a habit; that's not very long when you have the tools. Using the MP3 guided meditations will yield the strongest results, as they add an auditory tool to deepen the new learning. Together, we'll embark on the process of weaving a new way of life from the pieces of the old.

Guided Meditations

I am with you as you go, not only in spirit but through my website,, where you can contact me with questions or concerns. I encourage you to download the MP3 of most of the guided work on the site. The MP3 features my voice over the beautiful compositions of Grammy-nominated composer Michael Hoppé and "Heart and Soul Meditations" produced by Lance Ware. It's time to begin. Your journey is waiting.


I recommend that you keep a journal as you read this book to help you navigate your path through grief and chart your progress. For one thing, it is a record of your journey that you will treasure later. Second, your journal is a place to release and confide all your feelings, and it will bring you more clarity than reading my words alone possibly can. Write in your journal on a regular basis so that you remain aware of your desired outcomes.

As William Shakespeare wrote:

Give sorrow words: the grief that does not speak
Whispers the o'er-fraught heart and bids it break.



Loss is like a mudslide that plummets down a mountain and into the middle of our river of life. The old channel is now blocked and we are being forced into the new. We will never be the same again. That's why I say grief never ends. It changes us for life—it actually changes us into a different way of living. But we have a choice in how we will be changed. Will we choose to live out our days in darkness, frozen solid, or will we search for the meaning and gifts surrounding loss?

Grief never ends. It changes us for life—it actually changes us into a different way of living. But we have a choice in how we will be changed.

Throughout this book, you will be taking steps that will lead you to your best life. What we are doing with each thought and action in our lives is choosing. There is a quote from A Course in Miracles that helps me with this a lot:

Every decision I make is a choice between a grievance and a miracle.

I relinquish all regrets, grievances and resentments and I choose the miracle.

Daily, as I find myself approaching events or people with regret or resentment, I say this to myself and ask to be shown a different perspective. Each time we make a decision, we have moved through choices into choice. Our awareness is the only difference between what happens in our life by conscious choosing and what happens to us without our input—also known as unconscious choice. We can choose our intention using the skills we'll learn along the journey of grief.

Each Person Grieves Differently

In twentieth-century psychology and psychiatry, it was widely accepted in the medical world that a patient should get through the initial stages of acute grief in a couple of months. We find that ridiculous now, but at the time medicine drew a circle around pain and loss, and patients were expected to move on, leaving that circle behind like an excised tumor. The truth is that grief is a journey requiring as much time as the individual needs. Ancient cultures knew and honored the long dark night of the heart and soul known as grief, but as we entered the self-focused mechanical years following the industrial revolution, we began to build a belief system based on the logic of the brain. We put the heart aside.

The eminent Dr. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross changed how we approached death with her theory of the five stages of grief: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. Her insights were often misapplied, using our modern focus on the brain to set this up as a standard one-size-fits-all process. Even if you do go through all of these steps along the way, you may not necessarily follow them in the order listed or remain in each stage for equal amounts of time. You will recycle through the stages as time goes on. There is comfort in being able to say, "Ah, I'm going through that step," but to me there is a danger in wondering whether we have missed a key stage or are progressing too quickly or too slowly through the stages. We may follow them in order, in reverse order, or, most often, at random, and perhaps even experience a stage that's not even listed. Human emotions are rarely predictable, as they are not symptoms of disease but an individual's way of coping with loss.

Now we find modern medicine once again deciding that we can all fit in one box. According to the June 2011 issue of Scientific American, there are proposed changes to the fifth edition of Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) due in 2013. This is the bible of the mental health community. Because grieving and clinical depression have similar symptoms, the current DSM prohibits prescribing psychiatric medications until two months after the death of a loved one, which is already a questionable proposition. Two months to grieve, and then if we aren't "over it," we're given a prescription that labels us in need of medication that may have multiple side effects and whose purpose is to cover up our grieving? How do we assume that everyone will complete the grieving process in that time frame? If they haven't, is the best route to mask the feelings with pharmaceuticals? Shutting down the emotional body makes it much more difficult to tune in to our feelings and move through grief in a heart-centered way. In the proposal for 2013, this time frame is reduced from two months to two weeks. Can it be true that the people who wrote this new rule never suffered a loss? Or have they bought into the material values of a society who only sees our productivity in the world and excises anything that interferes? What is the fear if we experience our emotions and work through them in the heart? We are human; we are supposed to feel.

Dr. Allen Frances, the Duke University School of Medicine psychiatrist who served as lead author of the current rules, calls the changes "a disaster." Symptoms like sadness and loss of appetite "are completely typical of normal grieving, but DSM-5 would instead label you with a mental disorder."

We live in a culture that has no patience for sadness or dealing with loss, and this new development shines a spotlight on that truth. Cold, hard rules encourage us who are grieving to just move on and not burden others with our emotions. I know one thing from my own experience of grief, and from the experiences of clients and participants in my workshops who are finding their way: the time frame is as individual as fingerprints.

If you get nothing else from this book, please know that your journey is your own—and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

If you get nothing else from this book, please know that your journey is your own—and don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Of course medicine helps those who feel so deeply depressed that they consider harmful behaviors, including suicide. But the process of grieving takes as long as it takes. Please be patient. To deny the pain is to simply put it off until later. Holding the pain in the body eventually causes other symptoms, so it is in our best interests physically to move into healing. My goal is to help you move through the pain and into the larger life that grief is carving out in you.

From this point on, please don't allow yourself to enter into the comparison game with others about their loss and pain being greater or less than your own. It's disconcerting to hear someone say their experience is worse than yours; but there are others who ask how they can be suffering when someone else's loss seems so much worse. The cells of our body can't quantitatively measure the amount of grief you or I feel; there's no computer program capable of registering and then ranking your feelings and emotions versus mine. All of these are useless comparisons. So don't compare yourself to anyone. All your body knows is that you are sad, lonely, depressed, hurting. Comfort others when you can, but for the moment focus on helping yourself.

It is a heroic quest, and one I will take with you, supporting and encouraging your personal journey. I honor your courage in opening this book. I applaud your courage in exposing your wound for healing. Part of this book will be a sharing of the journey that was my grief, though I know everyone's path is different. However, since no one gets a pass on grief, it's good to know you are not alone. Come, let's begin.

The Hero's Journey

To open deeply, as genuine spiritual life requires, we need tremendous courage and strength, a kind of warrior spirit. But the place for this warrior strength is in the heart.

—Jack Kornfield, A Path with Heart

Though real human experiences are invaluable to us, we often rely on books and movies to show us how heroes and heroines overcome difficult problems. Our mainstream media, through storylines and actors, is supplying us with the modern version of epic myths. Stories are modeled from ancient journeys and share the bravery of those who came before us, but, more importantly, they give the viewer a glimpse of hope. The road through grief is a heroic journey. The Indiana Jones movies are a modern example, as are the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Star Wars, and many others. But tales like these have been recorded for more than five thousand years.

From the Epic of Gilgamesh, Inanna's Descent to the Underworld, Beowulf, and the Iliad, to modern films and books like The Fisher King, The Wizard of Oz, and the Harry Potter series, writers and filmmakers have used the hero's journey as a vehicle for telling the story of our mythic adventures moving from our potential self to our enlightened, beautiful self through hostile territory and grievous suffering. The journey mirrors our grief; that's why I've modeled this book after the hero/heroine's journey. Some of you may be familiar with Joseph Campbell's The Hero with a Thousand Faces, where we first learn about the "hero's journey," but the journey through grief is different in substantive ways. The following is the pivotal scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

There's Indy, leaning out over the edge of a deep chasm full of sharp boulders. The holy grail is a hundred feet away on the other side, with no way across. So close, but unattainable. Behind him, his father lies mortally wounded, and he knows only the grail can save him. Still, he is mangled, exhausted, clinging to what appears to be his last foothold and out of options. He hears his father call out that he should take a leap of faith into the void. Fear and grief are clear on Indy's face and in his body, but what choice does he have? Great evil, and his wounded father, are behind him—his only hope lies ahead. He leaps, claws at the opposite cliff for a moment, and falls. What happens next stuns everyone—he lands on a brilliantly camouflaged bridge placed there by the knights who guard the grail.

Indy's faith that there is more out there than he can possibly understand saves him. But first, he had to be in a place of darkness where nothing else worked. He had to rely on an unfamiliar belief that there was something more than he understood in his education as a scientist and a modern man. He had to accept that his brain was not going to help him. He had to rely on his heart's strength. He had to hear the call.

Unfortunately, for those of us who are suffering, our journey doesn't happen in a ninety-minute time frame. If we are grieving the death of a loved one, we will grieve for our entire lifetime. That is a fact. Thankfully, it's in our power to transform our grief as we travel to find the grail, or the gift, in our journey.

The Many Faces of Grief

So much of our grief is stored from events that we have ignored or buried as they were happening, and for a big portion of this book we'll look deeply at past grieving you might be holding with you today without even realizing it.

The following list is meant to help you ferret out all the ways grief has touched you. Some will be pretty obvious, others less so. Read through the list, and record in your journal all of the circumstances that have been present in your life. Please take your time; no event is too small to matter.

Individual Grief

To start, let's examine some of the more obvious ways you may have experienced grief.

* Death of a parent(s)

* Death of a child (including miscarriage, stillborn child, abortion)

* Death of a sibling

* Death of a spouse

* Death or loss of a close friend

* Death of a pet

* Alcohol- or drug-addicted parent(s)

* Divorce (your own or your parents')

* Safety issues, such as bullying or abuse

* Loss of your religious faith

* Moving when a child

* Moving and leaving your friends and/or community for a job

* Loss of a job

* Financial disaster, such as a loss of home or business

* Birth of a child with health problems or disabilities

* Involvement in war (as a combatant or civilian)

* Loss of someone close to you due to Alzheimer's or dementia

* Long-term or chronic illness (yourself or others)

* Aging losses—health, beauty, etc.

* And anything else that you know that you grieve for


Excerpted from the gifts of grief by THERÈSE AMRHEIN TAPPOUNI. Copyright © 2013 Therèse Amrhein Tappouni. Excerpted by permission of Hierophant Publishing.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments ix

Introduction xi

Chapter 1 Courage-Taking the First Step 1

Chapter 2 Overcoming Fear and Judgment 33

Chapter 3 Overcoming Denial and Guilt 57

Chapter 4 Healing 75

Chapter 5 Compassion 99

Chapter 6 Intention 115

Chapter 7 Setbacks and Looking to the Future 131

Afterword 161

Recommended Resources 163

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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
She ran to her house and bolted in . She fell to a heap on the ground and sobbed .