The Grief Recovery Handbook

The Grief Recovery Handbook was written by John W. James and Russell Friedman.  It was first published 20 years ago, and mostly focused on losses by death or divorce.  The authors have continued to work with people and revised their process as they learned more.  The exercises are designed for a group of people.  It’s also possible to work with a single partner.  Having someone witness your losses is essential to the process.
A friend recommended the book to me because it had helped another friend to deal with the death of her mother.  I had been part of a women’s group that was disbanding because we were finding it hard to find a time to meet that worked for all of us.  One of the women said she didn’t want to talk about pain any more, she wanted to have fun.  I described the grief process and asked if anyone would do it with me.  They all said no and that was very painful.  Nobody said it explicitly, but I felt defective, there was something wrong with me that I hadn’t been able to get past my grief.
This was during a time a couple of years ago when I was so disabled by PTSD that I was having a hard time cooking and eating and walking the dog.  I had asked some friends to help me and they were wonderfully supportive.  I asked these same friends if they would be willing to listen to me read from my loss history work.  They were wonderfully helpful and supportive.  I also read them some of what I’d written in my journal during the really hard times.  I was surprised to find that having people witness my pain would have such a powerful healing effect.

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