Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Necessary Losses” as Want to Read:
Necessary Losses
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Necessary Losses

4.1  ·  Rating Details ·  2,755 Ratings  ·  121 Reviews
"This perceptive book should absorb and enrich anyone who admits to being human."
Benjamin Spock, M.D.
Essayist Judith Viorst, who has humorously eased our journey to middle age, now turns her considerable talents to a more serious and far-reaching subject: how we grow and change through the losses that are an inevitable and necessary part of life. Arguing persuasively that
Hardcover, 447 pages
Published April 1st 1986 by Simon & Schuster (first published 1986)
More Details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Necessary Losses, please sign up.

Popular Answered Questions

Travis For example, to me internalization it is what happens in a memorial. "These are the pictures of the life of the dearly departed so you may carry the…moreFor example, to me internalization it is what happens in a memorial. "These are the pictures of the life of the dearly departed so you may carry the image w/ you in your heart forever" Which is helpful. We also must come to grips w/ the bad of the person we are grieving. It is not for us to only see them as a saint nor as a sinner but as a person.

I'd like to post a pic here of the concept of the stages of grief but Goodreads won't do I'll describe it.

The fist graphics shows the classic stages of grief in a nice straight line. The second graphic shows the stages of grief arraigned as a bowl of spaghetti. No clear path of stages. The second is my experience.

Hope that helps at least a little bit.(less)
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  Rating Details
Dec 09, 2008 Larry rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Number 3 on my top ten books that most formed my worldview. Ms. Viorst brought me face to face with the normal (required?) speed bumps in the road of life. It was through this book that the concept of "process" became clear to me. Because we are born to aspire to achievement and recognition we are creatures of hope and when it happens, as it most surely will, that the edifice of our hopes comes crashing in on us we each, in our own time, in our own way and by our own initiative must undertake a ...more
May 12, 2016 Stacy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Judith Viorst did an excellent job defining and elaborating on the many losses we face in life through change, growing, and even death, and how different people deal with all. It helped me understand that there is a whole range of "normal", depending on our history, personality, environment, etc. what one may take in stride and even grow from, may knock another to their knees. Even the 5 stages of grief we hear so much about, it not so cut and dried. There is no formula, timetable or anything pr ...more
Nov 04, 2007 Rebecca rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: all adults
I read most of this a few years ago, and I keep thinking about it. So now I'm delving in again. Judith Viorst of "Alexander" fame is very insightful.

I'm having to return this one before reading as much as I would like, but it's just as illuminating as I remembered. This time around, I got a lot out of the chapter entitled "Convenience Friends and Historical Friends and Crossroads and Cross-Generational Friends and Friends Who Come When You Call at Two in the Morning." It is something of a relie
Jul 15, 2013 Andrea rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ideas, motherhood
The main idea of the book is that in letting go of some things we make valuable gains throughout the stages of our lives. The author starts with childhood and the separation we make from our parents. Some people suffer from premature separation from parents and so the author describes some of the emotional consequences of that because it affects how well they deal with loss in later stages of development. She talks about growing up and leaving home. She includes a whole chapter on fantasies and ...more
Jul 01, 2008 Kim rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I finally finished this book! It's one of those that you want to read slowly because it's somewhat dense even though it's written for a lay audience -- there's so much to mull over.

Yes, this book is by the same Judith Viorst who wrote children's favorite, "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day." But this book is definitely for grownups who want to learn more about being grownups. Viorst chronicles the many beliefs we have to let go of in order to become fully mature, respo
Feb 20, 2012 Lesley rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
NECESSARY LOSSES reads like a textbook but serves as a bible. It took far too long to complete it, yet I had to digest the material bit by bit in order to experience the wealth of material to the fullest. Judith Viorst allowed me to revisit my past, birth to adulthood, where I confronted "demons" and found consolation and truth.From adulthood I revisited the childbearing years with all the confusion and delight those times entailed. Finally I have confronted my twilight with the sensitive suppor ...more
Agnes Ross
Apr 09, 2014 Agnes Ross rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I unequivocally recommend this book to everyone, at whatever age. It was especially poignant for me to read it just as I resigned from full time work and started social security. I suffer the loss of a job I loved to do and people I loved to work with, of a beautiful building with all my beloved books. But in giving up, in losing, I gain free time to do things I've wanted to do forever, to spend time with family whom I love more than life. But as author Judith Viorst delineates, there are losses ...more
Mar 17, 2016 Travis rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: great-books
"I should be dealing with my demons but I'm dodging them instead" John Mooreland.

And to paraphrase Mark Twain, "There are two types of people: Those that know they have fears to face and those that are liars." But that also means we all have treasures to claim...

Not facing our fears causes trouble.

"Frequently we bring about what we fear." says Judith Viorst in Necessary Losses. She says "I do unhesitatingly embrace Freud’s conviction that our past, with all of its clamorous wishes and terrors a
May 13, 2013 Jodi rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Not sure
Recommended to Jodi by: Jorene Ring
A lady at my book club kept referring to this book and so I finally read it. Kind of depressing and at times I didn't like it at all. I understand her point that we need to give some things up so we can grow, but still awful to think about. It was also a tad dry. How could the author who wrote, "Alexander and the No Good Very Bad Day" have written this book too?!?

Quotes I liked:

p. 163 "A normal adolescent describes two major goals in life 1. putting an end to the threat of nuclear holocaust and
Ginni Dickinson
Apr 30, 2011 Ginni Dickinson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really great stuff in this book by Judith Viorst. (Yes, she is also the children's author who wrote "Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day," think that is the title.) If you are suffering a loss, going through a life transition or just trying to understand life, love and relationships give this book a look. You don't have to read it cover to cover. But do read the chapters on friendship and marriage. Some might take issue with her heavy references to Freudian theory--but ev ...more
Sep 12, 2008 Jennifer rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help-woo
Wow. This is really a terribly depressing book. The author describes all of the "necessary losses" we must endure in life but doesn't offer any insight about how to deal with it. She basically just says, "Loss is the nature of life. Suck it up." Ke-rist. If I'm going to read 327 pages about the things that I will have to lose in life, could you at least offer up a little hope?

Also, she bases her ideas on Freudian philosophy. If you ask me, Freud was a KOOK.

I did however learn that I tend towar
Lorna Collins
Jun 09, 2010 Lorna Collins rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a book I had to read a chapter at a time and then reflect on it. I survived quite a bit of loss from the time I was a very small child, and this book helped me to understand the impact of that loss. One or two chapters opened up very deep emotions. I spent one weekend in bed sobbing after reading one. nevertheless, I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with loss or abandonment issues. It was wonderfully insightful and helped me deal with issues too long buried.
Gregg Bell
Jan 31, 2014 Gregg Bell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

I was taking this book to the health club one night to read while I walked on the treadmill. I ran into a friend of mine there, and he saw I was carrying a book and excitedly asked me, "What you reading?" I turned the book toward him so he could see the title, and his face fell. "Oh," he said. "Pretty heavy." "Yeah," I said. "But worth it."

That sums up the book. Another Reader's Digest description can be plucked from the inside cover. The book is about "what we have to give up to grow." And yet

Feb 08, 2008 Stacey rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Dr. Laura?
Recommended to Stacey by: Jorene Ring
Shelves: book-club
This book makes me insanely angry. It reminds me of the college days I used to listen to Dr. Laura on the radio and arrive back at our dump of an apartment FIRED UP. While saying that, I agreed with some of what Dr. Laura said, I just hated her delivery. I don't agree with this and find it doesn't line up with my biblical worldview. No, we should not indulge our daydreams and fantasies, to begin with... we should cal sin "sin". In the mean time, don't mention this book to me if you are unprepare ...more
Oct 28, 2016 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Judith Viorst fascinates me. She's currently 85 and looks about 70. She's had a writing career that has spanned just about all genres, and she then decided, just for kicks, to study psychoanalysis for 6 years in middle age and become a psychoanalytical researcher.

So, she not only has all of those brilliant books for kids that I grew up reading, but she's a poet, a fiction writer, and, oh yeah, she also writes non-fiction psychology books.

And here's the best part. . . her psychology books, well,
Apr 20, 2010 Prettytaz83 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I got 200 pages in to this book, and I couldn't stand it any further.

I wanted to like it ... The intro seemed exciting, and I eagerly dove in full of high hopes.

But dear god.... Every issue in life does not go back to wanting to have sex with your parents, or unresolved mommy and daddy issues.

I haven't lost friendships over unresolved homosexuality issues from Oedipal issues from when I was a toddler... I don't have anxiety because of going to day care.

Give me a break --- this book is full of
Juli Kinrich
Apr 17, 2013 Juli Kinrich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I wish I had discovered this book 30 years ago, (even though it wasn't written that many years ago!). It could have saved me a lot of heartache and anger.

But better late than never. A very illuminating book, helping me understand both the losses anybody endures as well as the specific losses that shaped me.

The chapter on marriage (Chapter 13) will be one I turn to time and again to remind myself of all the wisdom there.
Mariano Pallottini
Jan 13, 2011 Mariano Pallottini rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: must-read
This was the most important book of my life. I is so pleasent to read it that I can say this book is a masterpiece. You can always identify the influences of most known psychoanalysts, but it is far from dogmatic. We can feel this book very close to us because reveals how all of us suffer a succession of separations and losses from which we grow and how is possible to refuse the losses, committing our common mistakes just for the fear of pain.
Jul 11, 2008 Parv rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A real kick-in-the-pants ... this is no lightweight read, nor is its message. This should be required reading for all couples wanting to be on the 'married side' of the divorce-statistic ... right up there along with 'Passionate Marriage'.
May 05, 2012 Nelly rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Read this book over 10years ago in Hebrew. I read it several times in the past 5years. In simple words, Viorst slaps us with reality. For me this book was a ticket to the deep world of self awareness. I carry this book with me every where I go. One of my top favorites.
Tricia Veech
Apr 04, 2011 Tricia Veech rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant. Another book I frequently recommend to clients who are experiencing loss (which covers just about everyone). Wrote a paper on this book in graduate school and it is one of the few books I re-read regularly.
Loved this book. Found it very helpful. I reread it occasionally.
Jun 22, 2017 Kate rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Too psycho analytical
It sets out a penetrating analysis of one's personal psychology, sensitivity, emotions, and internal feelings with the objective of giving insight and serenity for the observant thoughtful reader faced with human "losses" at every stage of life from birth to death. Does a superb job of merging biology, psychology, human case instances, literary quotations from ancient times to the present. (One poem on p. 324 is the only insertion which I could not fully grasp in context.)

The book has an admirab
Mary Karpel-Jergic
An interesting mix of personal experiences, psychological theory and literature, this book provided me with a huge insight into how losses in life shape our lives. I had always understood loss in regard to dealing with the death of someone I love but Judith Viorst showed me how loss is a far more encompassing theme in life. "For we lose not only through death, but also by leaving and being left, by changing and letting go and moving on. And our losses include not only our separations and departu ...more
Maria Crespo
Nov 01, 2014 Maria Crespo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Amazing and thorough. I value the presence of personal testimonies gathered by the author, both personal and otherwise, to illustrate the losses detailed. The language isn't dry or impersonal, and despite conveying emotions and doing them justice, doesn't stray into overpoetic sentimentalisms: in a book about personal losses I think this very important.

My one qualm is the chapter about the mourning involved in aging. I have the impression that it is incomplete, that despite its thoroughness in l
Rev Z
Oct 12, 2013 Rev Z rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a classic. As foundation for understanding how loss operates in our lives from our earliest days, it is well-written, soundly-researched, and decidedly worth the read. Viorst asserts that loss is central to, and pervasive in, everyone’s life. She divides our losses into four major categories: 1) the losses of childhood and the becoming of a separate self; 2) the losses of accepting the limitations of our power and potential including the forbidden and the impossible; 3) the losses o ...more
Nov 14, 2011 Carolyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Viorst is known for her "Alexander" series of children's books ("Alexander Who Used to be Rich Last Sunday," etc). Those books, which beautifully depict complex, everyday family dynamics, didn't just spring from nowhere. Viorst is a trained psychoanalyst who has studied and thought deeply about family interaction. In Necessary Losses, she looks at the expectations and patterns we must give up in order to live happy, fulfilling adult lives. The chapters on attachment, sibling rivalry, friendship ...more
Nov 10, 2013 Peggy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a difficult book to read because of the subject matter (living involves multiple and ongoing losses) and because the writing is a bit dry in places. Judith Viorst traces all the many losses that we humans experience from birth until death. Losses she sees as necessary although distressing. The chapters on the losses experiences by babies and toddlers were eye-opening. Learning to literally stand alone is "The losing, leaving, letting go of paradise"; necessary, desired even, and final - ...more
Klava reads
Jul 23, 2013 Klava reads rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Capitolo 16 "AMORE E LUTTO"
"Il lutto... Ti sembra di esserne piena. Sempre. In un certo senso è come una gravidanza. Ma... nella gravidanza sembra di fare qualcosa anche nella completa inattività, mentre nel lutto c'è un senso si futilità e d'insensatezza anche nel mezzo dell'azione... La morte è l'unica cosa nella mia mente...
La mia quotidianità si è spezzata e sono in quarantena dal mondo. Non voglio nulla da esso, e non ho nulla da dargli. Quando le cose diventano troppo brutte, il mondo per
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Passages: Predictable Crises of Adult Life
  • It Will Never Happen to Me!
  • The Dance of Intimacy: A Woman's Guide to Courageous Acts of Change in Key Relationships
  • The Owl Was a Baker's Daughter: Obesity, Anorexia Nervosa, and the Repressed Feminine (Studies in Jungian Psychology By Jungian Analysts, 4)
  • Bradshaw on the Family: A New Way of Creating Solid Self-Esteem
  • In a Different Voice: Psychological Theory and Women's Development
  • Feeding the Hungry Heart: The Experience of Compulsive Eating
  • Adult Children of Alcoholics
  • Facing Codependence: What It Is, Where It Comes from, How It Sabotages Our Lives
  • Healing the Child Within: Discovery and Recovery for Adult Children of Dysfunctional Families
  • The Way of Transition: Embracing Life's Most Difficult Moments
  • How to Be an Adult in Relationships: The Five Keys to Mindful Loving
  • The Family Crucible: The Intense Experience of Family Therapy (Perennial Library)
  • The Verbally Abusive Relationship: How to Recognize It and How to Respond
  • Worry
  • Grief Counseling and Grief Therapy: A Handbook for the Mental Health Professional
  • Beyond Codependency: And Getting Better All the Time
  • Ethnicity and Family Therapy
Judith Viorst is the author of several works of fiction and non-fiction for children as well as adults. Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day, her most famous children's book, was first published in 1972 and has since sold over two million copies. Ms. Viorst received a B.A. in History from Rutgers University, and she is also a graduate of the Washington Psychoanalytic Institu ...more
More about Judith Viorst...

Share This Book

“There comes a time when we aren't allowed not to know.” 5 likes
“In fact, I would like to propose that central to understanding our lives is understanding how we deal with loss. I would like to propose in this book that the people we are and the lives that we lead are determined, for better and worse, by our loss experiences.” 2 likes
More quotes…