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

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,250 ratings  ·  141 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
Paperback, Revised, 192 pages
Published June 23rd 1998 by Harper Paperbacks (first published 1988)
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 ·  1,250 ratings  ·  141 reviews

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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) ...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
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 ...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 ...more
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 ...more
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
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 ...more
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.
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
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. ...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.).
Alicia McCalla
Sep 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book changed my thought process on grief and the loss of my son. I would recommend it and participating in grief recovery therapy, as well.
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. ...more
Denise Wood
Sep 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I began reading this after the sudden death of my father. The exercises in it were extremely helpful & I really appreciated its perspective on mourning. Its important that were able to say, yes, there ARE wrong ways to mourn. And most of us do it wrong, leading to years of mental anguish. I recommend this book to anyone who may need to consider a new method of mourning. Ask yourself: Has what youve been doing been helping or hurting you? ...more
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 didnt search well. Im not the religious type of a person, and Im not so much into reading
Rebecca Waring-Crane
My friend and co-writer gave me a copy of this title and I read it in a week. While the writers present their own stories of grief and recovery, it is the clear presentation of their method to grief recovery that makes this book work. I recommend it to anyone struggling with grief -- whether for years or a grief newly born.

Rather than academic research, the writers present a straight forward approach based on hard-won personal knowledge and years of presenting their method at workshops. I'm
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
May 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Having gone through a series of pretty bad losses recently I thought this book was really good. There are not many (as the book points out) resources in this world to help process the loss of a loved one properly and this book has a really good system to help you do so and get you closer to closure than you would be otherwise. It's not going to make things totally fine but I found it helpful.
As a book it could be written a bit better but I find that you can easily overlook that given the nature
Shelby Forsythia
Dec 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Magnificent walkthrough of grief and completing grief. After reading the section on Relationship Graphs and completing my own letter, I felt lighter and remarkably detached from my grief and pain in a loving way. I felt myself cease mentally circling all the things that were never said.

I'll be using this to complete all kinds of relationships in my life. Love the notes in the expanded edition too about moves, health changes, loss of a child, etc.
Apr 30, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A stellar handbook for grief. When you are caught in the abyss of sadness this book is gives the reader clear and concise exercises to do in order to come to terms with loss. It doesn't offer empty words of solace because we know at times there are no such words but rather it outlines ways to find your balance when your world has been shattered. A MUST READ for anyone mourning a loss.
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.
Sep 30, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Such a great handbook full of some teaching and followed up with actual hands on work, to process any kind of grief from death, divorce, losing a job, etc.
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.
Sep 02, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
It didn't really take me six years to read this book, but in another sense, there was some unfinished business between the book and myself, and in my mind (and in Goodreads) I was "keeping it open" until it was resolved.

A friend asked me to read the book because she wanted to engage in the process described in the second half of the book with a partner, and she hoped I would be that partner. We did try, but after trying the first few steps, that degree of intimacy became too much. Basically, I
Mar 28, 2020 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
In light of the losses I have witnessed this year, I have decided to pick up a copy of this book on a random night not too far long after these events took place. It is important to point out that I am generally against any form of self-help books and I do not enjoy reading them. After this long disclaimer, in my opinion, this book helped a lot in terms of analyzing the feelings I had regarding my own experience. As someone who never learned to deal with grief in a healthy manner, it was ...more
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,
Nov 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I can see how this book will be helpful to many people. Full disclosure: there are several personal activities/homework assignments suggested to get maximum benefit from this book. It is one of those things that what you get out of this book is roughly what you invest in it. I didn't complete all of the assignments, and time is necessary to complete them. I still benefited from this book, related to the ideas brought up in the book, and can see value in the activities suggested and I benefited ...more
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“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.” 2 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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