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on 6 November 2001
Although first published in 1983, this book always seems new, and fresh, to me. I have also bought countless copies over the years, to give away to friends and relatives who are facing, or have suffered, the loss of a loved one.
I have often wondered how I could draw this book to the attention of the many millions of people who might gain comfort from it, and suddenly it came to me that by writing a review for Amazon, I might achieve just that aim.
"The Courage to Grieve", although written by a Gestalt therapist, is written from personal experience, which gives it both credibility and authenticity. The author was just 17 when her elder brother was tragically killed in a car accident. The book has its roots in her terrible pain and anguish, but is given structure and wider knowledge through her dealings with her own, and her clients' search for a constructive way to deal with, and accept, death.
Anyone who is touched in any way by death, or the dying, could do no better than to explore this book for help. Its chapters deal not only with the post-death experience, but also with facing the death of a dear one, and understanding their feelings and responsibilities during this period. The back of the book contains an Appendix, which is, for me, one of the most important documents. This is "The Dying Person's Bill of Rights" and seeks to guide those of us remaining behind to act and respond in a way most helpful to the one facing their final journey. All too often we try to "do our best" for this person, and try to give them everything we think they need. This can result in a kind of control over the dying person's last months, weeks or days which, although offering an easing of guilt (maybe for a lack of attention up until now) does nothing for, and indeed hinders, the dying person's last wishes and needs.
The book deals with sudden death as well as the pre-death period of, for instance, a cancer patient. Each Chapter is preceded by a short quotation from another of my favorite books - The Prophet, by Kalil Gilbran. It is an ideal document from which to borrow words of extreme comfort and love.
Whatever an individual's circumstances - whether losing a parent, sibling, a child or a friend, and whether a child or adult themselves - this book offers both sensitivity and sensible advice and encouragement. It not only explains why we feel some of the emotions we do (such as anger, disbelief, pain, depression) but also how to understand, and deal, with these. It is an unhurried book, which gently coaxes one along a path, rather than at a forced pace. It is therapeutic, but not cloaked in therapists' language. It takes one on a physical, mental and spiritual journey of understanding and insight. After my own mother's death, it was the only book I read which seemed to echo, in its pages, how I truly felt. I only read the Chapter on "Finishing" 10 years after she had left us, knowing that the author had enabled me to give myself permission to take as long as I wish to reach the stage when I could truly say goodbye to her.
Judy Tatelbaum writes simply, but eloquently. I felt her empathy, and some of the personal pain she clearly went through not only after her brother's death, but also after the loss of a number of close friends. For the first time, I found someone who felt, as I do, that lingering deaths (such as any terminal illness) can be positive, because we have "the opportunity to confront dying and death directly" and because "survivors can give comfort, support and companionship, which can ease the pain for the person dying".
The book even reaches out to those who are themselves dying. Ms Tatelbaum writes of the chance this offers to celebrate relationships, and to thank people for their love and friendship, and be thanked in return. Getting ready for a journey offers many more opportunities to put one's affairs in order, both literally and metaphorically, and to know that those left behind are left with time to grieve, rather than the rather messy business of trying to clear up the world of someone suddently no longer there.
I would encourage all to read this book, and thus to equip themselves with the understanding and the tools to deal with that most mysterious, and feared, journey: be it our own death, or someone else's.
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on 26 July 1999
I had never been in the position of losing a partner before. I went to a therapist and she gave me this book to read. While reading this book my fears about never being the same again started going away, and I began to feel that it was okay to feel the way I was. This book should be read by anybody who has lost a loved one. I am getting several copies to give to people when they lose a loved one. This book brought me back from the nightmare I was in.
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on 14 April 2013
I was recommended to read this after I lost my husband in 2012. The star-rating description is not really appropriate, suffice to say that what I have read so far has been of great help. I haven't been able to finish it yet, that will time.
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on 24 January 2012
This is one of the best books I have read on bereavement. I am a trainee therapist working in a bereavement counselling service. It gave me such a rich and valuable information of the experience of bereavement. I can understand and appreciate more the practical, emotional, existential struggles of my clients. I can understand more easily whether there is unresolved bereavement when a client comes for therapy. I think that is hugely important for a therapist to be able to make that distinction. It was also very stimulating in terms of my own appreciation of my life and my inevitable death. However heavy may be the subject, the book keeps the spark of hope alive. In a way I became more hopeful in life, more daring to live each moment.
there are other books I recomend in terms of bereavement

"On grief and Grieving" by elisabeth Kubler-Ross. she wrote that book before her death
and for therapists the very well known
"Grief Counselling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Practitioner"

I know that different books have different impact on different people, but personally for me "The Courage to Grief" was the book that helped me the most, in terms of experiencing the bereavent of my clients, and offering to them the best support I can. It is extremelly helpful in terms of the practical advice in terms of the development of self care for the bereaved.

I totally recomend this book to the people who are grieving, to the counselling/ psychotherapy trainees who need to have a very good appreciation of the process of bereavement, and to the mental health professionals in general.
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on 14 March 2013
I purchased this for a friend who had had some really sad news, as I remembered how useful it was when I lost someone close. This is the type of book that you can pick up and put down at appropriate moments and it makes you realise you are normal and it is ok to grieve. My friend appreciated receiving this at a very difficult time
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on 28 January 2013
This is one book that has never really been out of print since it's publication in 1983. Its great benefit is that it summarises some of the previous seminal works on bereavement which are quite difficult for the lay person to interpret. Sadly, you need to filter through the author's rather muddled mind-set to do so.

However, in the final chapters, Tatelbaum explains some simple and useful techniques to cope with unsuccessful grief and illustrates it with examples from her own counselling case-book.

The concept of speaking as yourself and replying as the person you have loved and lost may seem bizarre, even macabre, but it is a useful healing experience for people who have suffered a loss without being able to resolve the relationship they have with the one they loved.

Similarly, making preparations and imagining aspects of your own death de-sensitises you from what - let us be honest - is the single most certain thing that will ever happen to any of us. The result of this, the author asserts, is that we should get as much joy as possible out of our lives. Trite perhaps, and repeated oft-times before, but nonetheless the truth.
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Whereas this books offers much detailed information on important aspects of grief and grieving, it somehow gets so lost in its pedantic style it forgets to offer the comfort that so many mourners seek when they read such a book. Although a Masters level social worker myself, I found the book a difficult read in its small print and wordiness. There also seems to a lack of emphasis at turning to the spirtual for comfort and support. There are not enough detailed examples of people who have lost loved ones and how they came to cope with these losses. Also philosophically I believe that if you love someone, there IS no "finishing" with that loss, that you simply have to learn to live with it. The book seems to imply that total finishing is possible and that I would debate. The author maintains that "finishing is acknowledging that the person is gone" and the the mourner knows that "I am not going to see you again." This can hardly be seen as comforting. Much better books that I would recommend for those are deeply grieving a lost loved one are the Kubler-Ross book On Grief and Grieving: Finding the Meaning of Grief Through the Five Stages of Lossand the Bob Deits book Life After Loss: A Practical Guide to Renewing Your Life After Experiencing Major Loss.
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on 30 November 1997
Having personally experienced the death of my only child seven years ago, I continue to recommend this book to others as the most helpful, validating, and poetic piece of work on the subject. No cliches, no "how to's" ...just gentle compassion and whispers of hope from someone who has obviously "been there" and survived gracefully.
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on 5 September 2002
This excellent book was recommended to me by a priest with much experience of bereavement councelling.
It goes through the psychological aspects of grief, enabling the grieving person to understand the many feelings (often contradictory) that he or she feels in the "three stages of grief".
It explains why it is so important to grieve "properly", so that the process can be completed satisfactorily, enabling resolution to occur and a normal frame of mind to resume.
As someone who has recently suffered a bereavement myself, I found this book very helpfull.
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on 5 August 2013
I found this book at a B&B, and found it so valuable that when I returned home I bought it. Clear, honest and practical, by a therapist who has herself struggled with a stuck bereavement. Of great help whether your bereavement is recent or distant but unfinished.
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