The key messages is that it's normal to be feeling bad, and that healing will come if you find safe ways to experience your emotions. Down-to-earth examples show how grief affects many areas of daily life, relationships with others, and hopes for the future. Practical tips in plain language are organized for easy reading.
Overall, it's a good introductory resource and we recommend it for wide distribution among general grieving populations in Western cultures. The Toronto Metro Ambulance Service gives copies of the book to any victim of a sudden tragedy or a sudden loss, as well as giving complimentary copies to local Emergency Room physicians and nurses they work with on a frequent basis.
The narrator speaks directly to the reader as if the author were providing supportive counsel to a visitor. This brief quote will give the flavor of the narrative approach:
Sample TextYou may become angry with those close to you. Friends and family members usually want to help, but often end up putting their foot in their mouth. It's very easy to feel patronized by them. Even though they have good intentions, their cliches can make you very angry:
We recommend the book as a simple overview for the acutely bereaved, but we must point out two failings which limit its effectiveness among some special groups. First, the authors have consciously tried to reach a wide audience by using of the term "partner" to refer to all of the important relationships that people share in life. The Preface says that they intend for the term "partner" to include relationships which often lead to disenfranchised grief such as lesbian and gay partners, common-law relationships, lovers, and intimate friends. Virtually all of the examples given in the book are of spouses, parents, and siblings, however, and there is no significant discussion of dienfranchised grief (i.e., grief which for one reason or another is not recognized or respected by the social group). We wish the book had carried through on the promise of the Preface by including more examples drawn from a more diverse grieving population that included a wider range of relationships.
Second, while the handling of religion and spirituality tries to be inclusive, avoiding specific religious beliefs, the language of the discussion inadvertently marginalizes non-deistic spiritual traditions such as Buddhism and contemporary movements. The two chapters on "God" and "No God" are intended to be inclusive but the polarization of the two terms suggests that the authors write from a deistic viewpoint and are unfamiliar with subtle language issues in comparative religion related to highly spiritual, non-theistic paradigms. This means that the book will be best used among populations that have Judeo-Christian and similar deistic ways of thinking.