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Necessary Losses: The Loves Illusions Dependencies and Impossible Expectations That All of us Have

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  3,209 ratings  ·  145 reviews
From grief and mourning to aging and relationships, poet and Redbook contributor Judith Viorst presents a thoughtful and researched study in this examination of love, loss, and letting go.

Drawing on psychoanalysis, literature, and personal experience, Necessary Losses is a philosophy for understanding and accepting life’s inevitabilities.

In Necessary Losses, Judith Viorst
Paperback, 448 pages
Published January 5th 1998 by Simon Schuster (first published 1986)
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Cathy Hasty For me internalization refers to the process by which we take inside ourself the functions that the person (job, pet, etc) served; we make what was…moreFor me internalization refers to the process by which we take inside ourself the functions that the person (job, pet, etc) served; we make what was once external internal. So I relied on my father for certain emotional and physical functions. He helped me to negotiate the world and as I grieved, I gradually felt that loss and then reconstructed my inner world with his "voice" inside me. (less)

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 ·  3,209 ratings  ·  145 reviews

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Dec 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Wow. I hate to go to more extremes than even I am ever Normally capable of, but to be perfectly honest with you, THIS BIG, FAT BOOK BLEW ME AWAY.

It’s that good...

You know, sometimes the most bitter pills to swallow do us most good.

So it was with this book.

Want to think in a totally Adult and Obstinately Responsible Way? This’ll do it!

But yes, yes, I know - we don’t like to lose our illusions. As the great R.D.Laing said, we are all like newborns who want to hang on to our nourishing placentas.
Aug 12, 2017 rated it liked it
A good book that confronts loss and shows that to enjoy a meaningful life with deep relationships, we must accept grief and loss as emotions worth experiencing. Our culture shies away from loss, perhaps for good reason, as death and separation evoke unpleasant feelings. But Judith Viorst contends that accepting loss as necessary allows us to better appreciate and cope with life's joys and hardships. She extends this message beyond physical death to address other important forms of loss, like the ...more
Dec 09, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
Nov 04, 2007 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 15, 2013 rated it liked it
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 rated it it was amazing
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,
Agnes Ross
Apr 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
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
Feb 20, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Apr 20, 2010 rated it did not like it
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
Shelby M. (Read and Find Out)
3.75 stars. This felt a bit dense on some points, but it surprisingly allowed me to view Freud in a slightly different light. The premise of this book really resonated with me, though I think I would have enjoyed a more up-to-date version.
Mar 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing
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
May 13, 2013 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 rated it really liked it
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 ...more
C.E. G
Jul 05, 2017 rated it did not like it
Ho boy, this helped me discover that I'm really not into Freudian psychoanalysis.

This has such high ratings and I was in the mood for a good self-help book, but psychoanalysis just seems like a lot of baseless patriarchal conjecture to me. Plus, all the gender/sexuality stuff made it feel pretty dated (Viorst: we're all basically bisexual, but hetero=evolved and homo=stuck in a earlier Oedipal stage).

I didn't read all the way to the end, but well enough over half that I felt like I'd gotten
Sep 12, 2008 rated it it was ok
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
Lorna Collins
Jun 09, 2010 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.
Tess Schmidt
Jan 02, 2018 rated it really liked it
A lengthy read as I often let what I had read simmer for a while before picking the book up again. It is packed with insight and information, my perspective on these matters is decidedly better having read this book. I am grateful to have had it as my companion as I experienced an unparalleled amount of deaths in my circle over 2017.
Sep 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help, philosophy
Nothing about us is perfect. Humans have good and bad in them and life is easier when we accept that. This book talks about humans and their lives, offering great perspective to how we engage with people around us and ourselves.
Psychoanalysis has a lot of answers to offer and like everything the answers are imperfect.
Pick this book up when you have questions about people and relationships and self. A book that will stay on my bookshelf forever.
Chandra Diana
Jun 29, 2019 rated it liked it
Well written and interesting but really damn depressing.
Aug 12, 2018 rated it it was amazing
I can't recommend this one enough. Going through a season of loss myself, it truly helps to put them into appropriate context. Every phase of life has losses to ensure and there a part of our growth, all the way to our death. Deeply rooted in faith, but not Christian, it's still a book great for pastors, leaders, and disciples.
Gregg Bell
Jan 31, 2014 rated it really liked it

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

Oct 28, 2016 rated it really liked it
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,
Feb 08, 2008 rated it it was ok
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 ...more
Mariano Pallottini
Jan 13, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Juli Kinrich
Apr 17, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 05, 2016 rated it did not like it
I really thought I would like this book. It had a great premise that I believe in clinically - that we all need to grieve the many losses we experience throughout our lives - not just the grief associated with the death of loved ones. But the author veers too far in the psychoanalytic theory without any real research to support its claims. The book needed a good editor. I really didn't like it and wouldn't recommend it.

May 05, 2012 rated it it was amazing
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 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jul 11, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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'.
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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 ...more
“There comes a time when we aren't allowed not to know.” 9 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.” 5 likes
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