Good Grief by Granger Westberg

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by Joe Mudd on January 27, 2011

This little 64 page book is the first book about grief I added to my library.

Joanne, wife of Deacon John Shoulta from our church handed it to me at the funeral home during the visitation. It’s so small it fit in the inside pocket of my suit jacket.

I think I read it that night. The pages are small, so it only took about an hour.

This little book and I got off to a bit of a rocky start. In the introduction the author starts talking about grieving over stuff like having the boss you love be replaced by one you don’t like.

Or grieving over moving away to a new place and leaving friends behind. My kid is in a box and you’re worried about having to make new friends?

Is that why it’s called Good Grief – because that’s what people say when they read it?

OK I’ll be fair. The author wasn’t equating moving to a new neighborhood to having your child die. He is just pointing out we deal with grief in some form often. Much more than we realize – it’s “as natural as breathing”. Westberg says dealing with these little griefs points us in the way we’ll deal with a big one.

Like a lot of books dealing with grief this one lists stages of grief –  ten of them in this case:

  1. We are in a state of shock.
  2. We express emotion.
  3. We feel depressed and very lonely.
  4. We may experience physical symptoms of distress.
  5. We may become panicky.
  6. We feel a sense of guilt about the loss.
  7. We are filled with anger and resentment.
  8. We resist returning.
  9. Gradually hope comes through.
  10. We struggle to affirm reality.

The author goes on to cover each in a separate chapter.

I don’t think I’ve ever felt lonely. Just the opposite. I usually just want to be by myself – and can’t get people to leave me alone. This is especially true at work. Just way too much “teamwork” and too many meetings there.

I also don’t remember ever feeling panicky. Richard is dead. It’s much too late to panic now. I just feel sad.

So all these stages don’t apply to everyone. We’re all different. But it all still fits. And it was helpful to read at least a framework for what was ahead for us.

This may have been one of the best choices to read in those fog shrouded early days. I don’t think I could have made it through a long detailed book. I needed to know about the grief we were now forced to live. I was determined to live this grief, not hide from it. Good Grief was a valuable primer on the subject. You just have to keep an open mind on what grief is.

Amazon Link

Good Grief: A Constructive Approach to the Problem of Loss

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