Learning about Loss – Book review
The Essential Guide to Life After Bereavement
Judy Carole Kauffmann and Mary Jordan
Paperback: £12.99 Jessica Kingsley Publishers
In pastoral ministry there are many encounters that remain in the memory of the pastor. These find their way to speak about human resilience, our encounter with pain, the occasional impossibility of resolving conflicts and the need always to be open and honest about our needs. The death of a loved one is always traumatic and how this loss is dealt with during the first weeks of bereavement can often shape the quality of life for families in the years that follow. We need to embrace the vulnerabilities of loss and find help to discover how best to live with our mortality and the challenges of change.
On this journey we shall need skilled friends. Those who seek guidance about bereavement will find a good guide and friend in the pages of this book. It is written by two women who have deepened their emotional intelligence by listening both to themselves and others. They have reflected with care on what we might need when someone dies and organized this advice with care and great clarity.
It is organized into nine chapters. The first two handle the difficult subject of breaking bad news and this is followed by a further two that open up the subject of grief. The book deals with conflict (in families) in chapter five. There are also chapters on personal effects, memorials and anniversaries. Chapter nine looks to the future with a chapter entitled ‘Beyond Tomorrow’ which holds out the hope of reconstructing living in the face of loss.
There is an especially good resources section and the book is strengthened with the provision of an index.
The narrative of the text is grounded in experience with short reflections that earth conversations in the reality of bereavement. There are gentle but searching questions of the reader in the text. The writers have a gift for a concise and clear expression of thought.
My shelves are full of books on death and bereavement but this one will stand out as a useful starting point for someone who might benefit from support and advice in the shape of a short book.