Book Review

Good Grief: Healing Through the Shadow of Loss by Deborah Morris Coryell

Book Review by Meg Avery, TCF Lawrenceville, GA

I bought this book a couple weeks ago and finally picked it up a few nights ago, and randomly opened it to this page. These paragraphs really said alot to me and made me think alot about the comments some unthinking people tell us bereaved parents about how we have to put our grief behind us and move on. Like we're supposed to forget about our child and carry on as though everything is fine, yeah, right... Let them be in our shoes and try moving on. Like Jayne wrote, we are moving on. We have changed, grown, reached out, been through hell and back and it has changed our lives, unlike some people who are still rooted in the same spot they were in 4 years ago, but they can tell us to move on. 

Shared by Meg, James' Mom

This chapter was about "losing" and what that term means. It is from the book "Good Grief - Healing Through the Shadow of Loss" by Deborah Morris Coryell.

"Healing our grief means continuing to love in the face of loss. The face of loss - what we see - is that someone or something is gone. The heart of loss teaches us that nothing - no thing - we have ever known can be lost. What we have known we have taken into ourselves in such a way that it has become part of the very fabric of our being. It is part of who we are and as long as we are alive we have the capacity to continue to love even that which is no longer a part of our daily reality. This means that we will need to "change our minds" about many notions that we have had about loss: that what we can no longer "see" is gone. That what we can no longer touch doesn't continue to live. That if there is no response, the relationship is over. 

Close your eyes and see that which you can no longer touch; that which is gone from your presence. Reach inside of you to the feeling of touching, hearing, smelling, being with your experience of what you believed was lost. 

Remember. We are haunted by societal fears that we should not continue to stay connected with what is gone, what is past, what has been lost. There is a pitfall here, a caveat, symbolized by Dickens Miss Havisham: be wary of that part of us that might want to live in the past. The challenge is to bring the past along with us in such a way that we haven't lost anything. We don't ignore the challenge because of the pitfall. Truth to tell, we could not forget our past if we wanted to. What we choose to leave in the past, we can. What we choose to continue loving, we can. We are being asked to give new form to what was contained in an earlier relationship. Our grief becomes the container for what we feel we have lost and in the process of grieving we come into some new wholeness. We create a way to incorporate, literally to take into our bodies, that which has become formless. 

Like the caterpillar, we go into a cocoon to a safe place so that the old self can dissolve and a new self can be created. Like the art of losing, this metamorphosis is not automatic. It does not happen simply in the course of time. Rather, it is a self-conscious act. Grief can be a path to relf-realization because in the process of grieving we acknowledge that which we chose not to lose. In the art of losing we can choose who we will be. We break, but we break open so that we can include more of life, more of love. We get bigger in order to carry with us what we choose to continue loving."

The next chapter begins with this quote: "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

At the end of the chapter entitled: "Being Lost", is this paragraph: "We know now that the loss has dismembered us and that we are walking the path of remembering. Loss is the physical and mental experience. Grieving is the process of moving into the emotional and spiritual realms that the months and years ahead offer to us. Healing is a journey, not a destination."

And in the middle of the "Time does not heal all wounds" chapter, "Healing and curing are two very different concepts. Healing is a spiritual idea and curing is a medical one. Healing is an active process. It doesn't happen to us; we must participate in the process of our healing. Healing happens for us. It is a gift we give to ourselves in the moment we decide to stay "open" to that which has broken us."

"Time does not heal. But healing does take time. Give yourself the gift of time. To become whole means that as we open to the pain, we open to the loss. We break open and, as a consequence, we get bigger and include more of life. We include what would have been "lost" to us if our hearts and minds had closed against the pain. We include what would have been lost if we had not taken the time to heal."

You may order these or any other books by clicking on the links provided below. Books ordered by entering through this page will help support The Compassionate Friends of Atlanta. You will also receive a discount from the list price on many books by ordering online. If you have read a book that you would recommend we include on this page, please email.

TCF Atlanta| Suggested Reading | After Death Communications
Parental Grief | Sibling Grief | Suicide | Children's Section | Reflections