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

4.11  ·  Rating details ·  1,877 ratings  ·  220 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
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. ...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
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
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
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
Katrine Austin
May 08, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book is simply profound for anyone dealing with unresolved grief. In my opinion, it therefore is great reading for most people (even if they may not realize it). But more, it tasks you with actions to take, and those behavioral changes and homework done on oneself are what makes this program work as it does. This program is not for the faint of heart, or for those afraid to look deep within, or simply don't buy into the fact that mere reading will not cut it. Hospice is an amazing philosoph ...more
Rick Sam
Jun 07, 2021 rated it really liked it
Shelves: psychology
“Depression” - if someone feels sad, one frequently throws the word.

A Commonly used phrase, "I felt depressed."

Chuck the internet, spews out misinformation, seek qualified sources in the field.

For Mental Health, always, always seek out professional, who is trained in the field.

1. So, Why did I read this work?

Someone shared with me a story.

This person shared, how they were trying to become a doctor.

The narrative of people in Tamil Nadu; become a doctor or engineer -- if not, you're a fa
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
Brandy Machado
I will start off by saying that I know this book and their program has helped thousands of people who are struggling with grief and that is great. For the people who get something out of this book, I'm glad it exists for that purpose.

As far as I go, I was disappointed by a few things in the book.

1) In one section, they ask victims of abuse to not only forgive their abusers but also to apologize. I don't think victims should ever be required to forgive their abusers, but I understand the weight t
Jul 07, 2020 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015-popsugar
I cannot recommend this book to anyone looking for help with current grieving. It may be a good book to go through when you are not in the midst of grieving a loss and to help you think about how you have learned to deal with loss, and to think about relationships in general. The authors spend a lot of time in the beginning talking about how great their methods are, as well as interspersing long stories of their own personal losses throughout the book. You are pretty much told that what you thin ...more
Rev. Christine
Oct 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I highly recommend this book to anyone who wants to "clean house" when it comes to releasing grief and coming to a place of completion with the losses in their life.

I read this book and did the work it suggested in conjunction with working with a grief counselor after my mother's passing. I will also be doing the training program to strengthen my own skill set as a spiritual counselor who specializes in grief support and life transitions.

This isn't an airy-fairy fix, it's a roll-up your sleeves
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
I highly recommend this book. It gives you a feeling of being understood. It covers all kinds of loss in all areas of life and gives you a method for what the authors call "completing your emotions." This method might not work for everyone or for every loss. But I think it is worth the effort and cannot hurt. I will be trying to implement the suggested steps in my own way. One caveat to the reader: I feel strongly that, because person's each grief is unique, everyone should be free to take the s ...more
Chad King
Dec 02, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Exceptional book even if you're not grieving in the traditional sense. Identifies and adds perspective to many of our Western beliefs, reactions, and advice regarding change and loss.

I wish I had read this years earlier. Highly recommended.

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
Lanette Sweeney
Nov 01, 2020 rated it liked it
The authors believe they have devised a strategy whereby grievers can work through a program of recovery and feel "complete" in letting go of their grief. That seems ridiculous to me, but in fairness to them, they beg that we readers do the actual exercises rather than just read about them, and I have not done them, so perhaps I don't know how good and "complete" I could feel if I did.

In summary, they recommend we make a loss graph of every major loss (including moving, getting fired, getting d
Krystal Leonardo von Seyfried
wow. honestly, a book i believe every single human needs to read and work through. this book changed my life.

i wish everyone i knew read this book and did the emotional work outlined here. if everyone did, i know there would be less problems across the board. getting into it with our emotions is so needed and the steps in this book are totally essential for dealing with relationships, loss and love in this modern society.

i should probably give it a quick reread. also, i find it helpful to go thr
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
Jun 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: w-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
Aug 09, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: equipping
This book is OK. I bought after the recommendation of a friend and I can say that I don't think I would recommend this book. There are to many other great resources out there that can equip and assist others in grief recovery. Being one who has academically studied grief, crisis, loss, trauma, etc..I found myself being frustrated reading this book. After years of research in these areas, I tend to disagree more than agree. However, there are some good points to walk away with. ...more
Heidi Burkhart
Feb 23, 2019 rated it it was ok
The first part of the book discussed societal expectations for dealing with grief. These expectations were examined and discussed at some length.

The second and third parts of the book were best accomplished with a partner. Though somewhat interesting I didn't really find it very helpful.

The book was written over twenty years ago which might be working against it.
Sep 03, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Somehow my previous review was deleted. Book wants you to find a partner to work with. Not what I was expecting. Reading a book is usually an individual sport. Waste of time for me personally. I got more out of reading a book of stories told by a Hospice nurse.
Tim Plett
Sep 13, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: self-help
This handbook has been extremely beneficial to me as I work my way through the grief of losing my wife. I'd recommend it to anyone caught in grief, whether it is grief caused by a death, a divorce, or even financial loss. ...more
Feb 22, 2021 rated it really liked it
After the recent loss of my mother I was looking for something to help me find my way back to feeling like me again. I took care of her at the end of her life and felt like every bit of innocence and whimsy had been ruthlessly crushed out of me. This book was not the miracle cure I’d hoped for. That said, there obviously is no miracle cure for grief. There is good information in this book though and, while all of it may not be for everyone, I feel like anyone suffering from a loss can find use w ...more
Apr 23, 2021 rated it really liked it
It was a hard process, I kicked and screamed and cried myself numb and survived moving though this process and my grief. I am glad I stuck with it and honored my commitment because, ultimately it worked for me. It’s not for the faint of heart, working with grief. The book and process and women I met with have brought me peace with what I wanted to be “different, better or more.” I took a star off because it needs to be updated to take trauma into account. Also it’s a bit cerebral and not as hear ...more
Oct 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Focused and comprehensive despite its low page count. Starts with an insightful and validating discussion of cultural barriers to healthy grieving (i.e., why people tend to say totally useless and irritating things), then outlining a concrete series of steps for processing grief of any kind (death, divorce, moving, etc.).
Jan 13, 2020 rated it really liked it
The authors really encourage you to explore inward through fully engaging with your feelings as you try to process grief (losses that can take place in different shapes and forms). The amount of work you put in their exercises is what you get out. Definitely not the kind of book to read-through just once — would recommend rereading as needed.
Cali Bakker
This is a must-read for anyone experiencing grief. So, basically, that's everyone. I appreciate their understanding and teaching that grief can come from any change to familiar patterns. This handbook gives valuable information and guides the reader through the steps to find completion in their relationships and losses. ...more
Oct 30, 2021 rated it really liked it
A little wordy at times but the stories and comparisons might be helpful for some people. Otherwise it seems like a solid and straight forward program to deal with various losses in life, not only death. I will work with this book and try it out.
Jun 29, 2021 rated it really liked it
A helpful guide for navigating loss. I recommend working through it with a therapist or trusted friend.
Oct 17, 2021 rated it it was ok
This book continually stresses that each person and their grief is unique, and then frequently makes overgeneralizing statements regarding grieving and insists that their process is the only one that properly works. Much of their anecdotal evidence and examples contradict my own experiences with grief and my experiences working with grieving people.
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23 likes · 5 comments
“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.” 3 likes
“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
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