Authors challenge conceptions about grief

Carol A. Wright

By A Contributor

Any kind of loss—the death of a loved one, divorce, painful memories of rejection—is a struggle most of us will go through at some stage in our lives.

Perhaps many have already experienced the sorrow, guilt or regret that are associated with loss.

Imagine a child being told by mom or dad to not cry when grandmother or grandfather dies, or when a furry, long-time companion grows old with arthritis and must be put down.

All too often those who try to hold in their emotions are doing themselves more harm than allowing themselves to openly grieve.

Grieving people should not feel guilty about expressing their feelings to others. And they shouldn’t feel bad about blaming themselves for a person’s death. It’s only human to have been out of town and unable to do anything to help. It’s only human to tend to other responsibilites.

This kind of guilt and remorse haunts them to the point where they might not make the necessary adjustments that could lead to a happier and healthier life.

The creators of the Grief Recovery Method, Russell Friedman and John W. James, have assisted hundreds of grieving people, offering their hearts, compassion and advice, so that they can move forward and get on with living. Some may recognize Friedman and James for their outstanding self-help books, “Grief Recovery Handbook,” “When Children Grieve” and additional guidelines for couples going through divorce. Now, in “Moving Beyond Loss,” the co-authors give hope to those who find themselves sinking deeper into the quicksand, a place where all faith has disappeared and just a numbness remains.

Without the support of Friedman and James, thousands of people would still be roaming in darkness, searching for somebody to find answers to their sensitive questions.

“Moving Beyond Loss” is one of the most useful books about dealing with loss and grief. The authors realized that there was a crucial need for people to locate a source in which questions and disturbing thoughts about death or any loss could encourage them to finally move on and enjoy life.

The authors also experienced their share of pain and confusion when they lost loved ones. They had a hard time just finding someone that they could talk to. It seemed nobody could be called upon to help them cope with feelings of loss and grieving.

This book reveals critical information from people who try to deal with all kinds of conflicting emotions. The numerous personal accounts included in “Moving Beyond Loss” are real, gritty and raw. Their feelings and frustrations regarding the grieving process begin to make sense, and nobody goes through the grieving process exactly the same way.

The authors introduce us to the six myths that prevent people from understanding or measuring grief. They include don’t feel bad, replace the loss, grieve alone, be strong, keep busy and time heals all wounds.

For example, I was surprised to read that there are not actual stages of grief as many of us might have learned from Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, author of “On Death and Dying.” These are denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance.

Not so in the book by Friedman and James who write: “the idea that stages of grief even exist is dangerous.”

They further suggest, “Please don’t let anyone label your feelings as stages. Unresolved grief is about undelivered communications of an emotional nature. It’s fair to say that following a death, grievers may feel sad, and they might have some anger about the circumstances or cause of the death, or even about things that did or didn’t happen in their relationship with the person who died. But those are feelings, they are not stages.”

Grief, they point out, is the normal and natural reaction to loss. Grief is emotional, never intellectual.

Again, the authors write:

“We prefer to help each griever find their own truthful expression of the thoughts and feelings that may be keeping them from participating in their own lives…We all bring different and varying beliefs to the losses that occur in our lives, therefore we each perceive and feel differently about each loss.”

What started the authors’  “Q & A” on the website,, has grown into a powerful medium that helps the grief-stricken understand their own personal pain and conflicting emotions. Everyone is unique when it comes to grieving. The questions that grieving people ask the co-authors could very well be similar questions others have but are afraid or hesitant to ask due to being judged or misjudged by family members and friends. Those who scrutinize and condemn what or whom they do not understand are much in need of “Moving Beyond Loss.”

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