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The Grief Recovery Handbook: A Program for Moving Beyond Death, Divorce, and Other Devastating Losses

4.05  ·  Rating details ·  821 Ratings  ·  91 Reviews
Updated to commemorate its 20th anniversary, this classic resource further explores the effects of grief and sheds new light on how to begin to take effective actions to complete the grieving process and work towards recovery and happiness.

Incomplete recovery from grief can have a lifelong negative effect on the capacity for happiness. Drawing from their own histories as w
Paperback, Revised, 192 pages
Published June 23rd 1998 by Harper Paperbacks (first published 1988)
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Dec 05, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: anyone dealing with grief or general loss
This book saved my life! While dealing with mom's sudden death and my dad's impending terminal illness, I felt that no one understood me or wanted to hear about my sorrow. I decided to seek out some help in alternative ways and ran across this book. Their no-nonsense approach was refreshing and provided some much needed honesty and candor about a topic that everyone else was afraid to discuss with me.
N Klepacki
Jul 01, 2009 rated it it was amazing
I first learnd of this book through Jim Beaver's Memoir of his wife, Cecily Adams in "Life's That Way" -I wish I'd read this years ago. I've read so much of the 'self help' and 'Twelve Step" genre over the years that I've become a bit jaded about a lot of it. Friedman throws a whole new approach and sensibility (tempered with good humor) that transcends the usual "Pull Yourself Up By Your Bootstraps" or "Let Go and Let God Run the Dumptruck Over Her/Him" (had to throw in a funny, there) preachin ...more
Aug 04, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I highly recommend this book to anyone dealing with any grief in their lives. It's very hands on but worth the work it takes. It was very helpful for me and gives me a good place to go. Rereading my notes and assignments is always good for me if I'm struggling on one particular day. It helped me map out my life, document the major life events, and realize what affected me most. Then they help you through the process, talking you through each step and why it's important, and giving examples from ...more
Nancy Freund
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A tricky review to write, because this self-help book makes an important promise, as self-help books generally do. I'd think anyone reading my review of it might want to know whether the authors and the book deliver on that promise. That is, will the grief caused by death, divorce, trauma, moving, abuse, loss of career or trust or safety, loss of faith or mobility or physical or mental ability actually be lessened as a result of actions described in this guidebook? I don't know... but I do belie ...more
Alma :)
Mar 31, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this book a few years ago, while I was in the midst of an unraveling relationship. I was coping with that loss and a very difficult year and dealing with 20 years of unresolved grief from my father's death when I was six. At the time, I had taken baby steps toward healing by finally opening up to my friends and loved ones, but I was having a great deal of difficulty moving on. I decided to take a course on Death and Dying as part of my degree program, and this book was required reading. N ...more
Mar 24, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
I really appreciated this book for the first half. I related to so many things, especially all the unhelpful phrases well-meaning people tend to say, like "You'll find someone better" or "It's all for the best," or "God has a plan." Hearing someone else say that none of these things is remotely helpful and learning ways that we often learn to repress our grief rather than work it out is very encouraging. However, I strongly disagreed with many statements made in the second half, including the co ...more
Vicki G
Mar 24, 2012 marked it as to-read
Shelves: nonfiction
It took me forever to find a partner. I know you don't HAVE to have one in this edition of the book, but I thought working by myself would be a disaster in terms of being completely honest and accountable, b/c I think I'm too close to myself to be able to do it.
Some people can do it alone but I had to have a partner.

I just hope I can handle it when he talks about what happened to him.

He was trapped in Tower 1 for over an hour and was burned across 40% of his body surface. He lost his entire face
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: library
The third section of the Grief Recovery Handbook details steps a grieving person can take in order to complete their grief work, and is helpful. However, the first two sections of the book explain, in detail, how most of society has been trained incorrectly on how to grieve, and how unhelpful this is. While I agree with this, it can be a bit much to read; as I felt it tore down everything I knew before it finally started to build me back up again, and if the authors' specific methods don't work ...more
Angelica Taggart
Nov 27, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I read this a long time ago -- and led a class on it -- it was powerful stuff!
Paula Kirman
Jan 22, 2012 rated it liked it
A good plan for finding completion after loss.
Carrie Daws
Feb 01, 2018 rated it really liked it
We don't like to talk about grief and mourning. Instead, when a relationship ends through death, divorce, or other loss, we tell ourselves and our friends to "Be strong," or "They're in a better place," or "You're better off without them." None of this is truly helpful to the person trying to sort through the feelings of pain and trauma and reground themselves in trust and love. This book is different.

While acknowledging the plethora of situations that push a person into a grieving situation, t
Feb 15, 2018 rated it liked it
They spend a lot of time in the first 1/3-1/2 of the book belaboring how our culture doesn't address grief well, and I found this tedious and pedestrian. This might be because I work in the helping-humans field, so these concepts are already well-worn in my brain. The good news is that it's a fast read, so you can cruise through this pretty quickly. They suggest you go back and re-read this section, to which I say "nope." I was initially skeptical of their process for working through grief, but ...more
Mar 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: self-help
I wish I could give this book ten stars....I definitely need this on my book shelf. We all go through griefs but we live in a society that doesn't allow us to grieve, and most people never learn this. This book can help so many people. Everyone should read this. Grief is something we will all experience in our lifetimes.
Carol Oberg
Mar 06, 2017 rated it did not like it
Not helpful. Dated. There is a newer version with a different co-author. Hopefully it is better than this version. Stuck in the 80s.
Nate Ott
Jul 23, 2017 rated it liked it
Shelves: home-library
Good but way out of Date
Sep 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
With this book and the accompanying support program/group, I've been able to learn to cope with grief on a better level as well as feeling that I can better help others to do the same.
Rusty Henrichsen
May 30, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It's a good book, and worth reading, but highly repetitive.
Jun 09, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I read mostly fiction, but there was a time just after my bereavement two years ago that I scoured bookstore shelves and e-books list for any helpful grief books, hoping that they would give me wisdom to help me better understand my experience, and that they could speak to me on a personal level in the quiet solitude of my darkest days. A kind of lifeline to carry around.

But I got no success, or perhaps I didn’t search well. I’m not the religious type of a person, and I’m not so much into readin
Feb 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read this as part of a group. It really helped with unresolved feelings. I would and have recommended this to people who have experienced loss.
Jun 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I am currently reading this book and so far it speaks to my loss more authentically and with more understanding than I've found in the dozen or so books I've read in the consecutive years in which my father and husband died. The first part of the book is also extremely useful for anyone supporting someone going thru grief/loss.

After reading a # of reviews however I want to be clear that I am going thru the exercises with an excellent therapist who is also using EMDR to help my poor brain process
Wow. I started this book almost a year ago, when I realized that writing my Yuletide story was bringing up all kinds of things around the death of my mom. I only read up until the exercises began; I wasn't ready to tackle nineteen years of the hole in the fabric of my existence.

My therapist insisted that I take at least two full days devoted to grieving the breakup, that I couldn't keep putting it off indefinitely. I cleared my schedule for two entire days, and resolved not to do chores or erran
Nov 18, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: everyone!!
This book was really eye-opening for me. It also includes some activities to be completed as you go along that I found very useful and plan to continue. One of the key takeaways I got from this is how we learn/are taught to cope with loss and other stresses from a very young age. And how most of those "lessons" are fallacies that just create problems rather than resolve them. Society wants us to be ok, to be strong and in control. So we act like we are, when in reality, we may be hanging on by a ...more
Sep 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone. Should be required reading!
This book was really eye-opening for me. It also includes some activities to be completed as you go along that I found very useful and plan to continue. One of the key takeaways I got from this is how we learn/are taught to cope with loss and other stresses from a very young age. And how most of those "lessons" are fallacies that just create problems rather than resolve them. Society wants us to be ok, to be strong and in control. So we act like we are, when in reality, we may be hanging on by a ...more
Dec 18, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Best for Loss of Loved One or Divorce

This workbook focuses mainly on the loss of a loved one or divorce, but has supplemental material at the end about loss of health (my interest). I wish that they'd noted the supplemental material at the beginning of the workbook section. The first 5 chapters or so, though, are applicable to anyone going through a hard emotional time because everything from depression to anxiety seems to be related to unmet expectations (for whatever reason) and it is importan
Nov 09, 2008 rated it really liked it
I read this about 10 yrs ago, before I even had a close loss due to death - I chose to read it to better understand the psychology of loss and to help others around me going through various losses - what to say, what not to say, how to offer assistance, etc. I recently picked it up again because I've experienced a major loss and wanted to review the book through "new eyes." We've all experienced losses to some degree - relationships, jobs, deaths, etc., and this is a no-nonsense, real-world "how ...more
Linda Quinton-Burr
Mar 08, 2013 rated it it was ok
Shelves: mental-health
Had a bad experience with this book. May be good for residual grief in cases where that is the only issue. My client -- who had real issues with stress generally, got into a "certified group" based on this book and being pushed to bring back all the details of her traumas in excruciating detail threw her in to multiple seizures and migraines. I've worked a lot with grieving and most people are able to deal with and let go of trauma without essentially reliving the traumas in such detail. That sa ...more
Tiina Lehtineva
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Tämä kirja oli todellinen löytö. Se todella auttoi käsittelemään sellaisia kipeitä menetyksiä, joiden kanssa olen ollut jumissa. En väitä, että kirja olisi joku pikaratkaisu, vaan sen sisältämät ajatukset ja konkreettiset tehtävät auttoivat ja tarjosivat vertaistukea. Suosittelen ehdottomasti! Kirjaa ei kuitenkaan kannata aloittaa, ennen kuin on valmis tekemään töitä menetyksen kanssa. Minulla meni lähes vuosi tämän kirja kanssa, sillä välillä kynnys tehtävien jatkamiseen oli suuri. Silti proses ...more
Dec 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Loss is a common problem for everyone, but few know how to deal effectively with grief. We are fed misinformation about sharing bad feeling associated with death, divorce, job loss or loss of faith. Messages we receive from a young age, such as: grieve alone, replace the loss, time heals all wounds, be strong for others or just keep busy, leave the unresolved grief having a negative effect on the capacity for happiness. Honesty with yourself is necessary. The actions you take that are outlined i ...more
Mar 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I have finished this book, but continue to still refer to it for guidance in my daily life.
This book has allowed me to see that I have had more losses in my 47 years than the average person.
Quite a few of those losses, I have dealt with effectively. Two or three, due to reading this book ,I realize I have not even scratched the surface to deal with the loss of the relationship with the person no longer in my life. I have been able to move forward in my life through some very rough times due to t
Jan 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Though I didn't like everything about this book, I found that it did significantly help me work through issues I thought had been settled long ago. However, I would recommend working through the issues on your own instead of at a set pace. Healing time will be different for each individual's unique situation. Having participated in a structured group whilst reading this book, each week brought new exercises and it was obvious that some people weren't ready for different aspects of the process wh ...more
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“We have a very simple belief that everyone involved in a divorce is a griever. That includes children, parents, siblings, and friends of the couple. This attitude makes it easy for us. We always know that the primary issue is unresolved grief.” 0 likes
“you were sent into life with several pieces of misinformation about dealing with loss. The six we have identified so far are: Don’t feel bad. Replace the loss. Grieve alone. Just give it time. Be strong for others. Keep busy. None of these ideas leads us to the actions of discovering and completing the unfinished emotions that accrue in all relationships.” 0 likes
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