Reviewed by Larry Yeagley, BA, now retired, has served as pastor and chaplain. He now lives in Gentry, Arkansas, United States.

After years of research, George Bonanna makes the claim in this book that empirical evidence does not support the “stages of grief” idea. Adjusting to the loss of a loved one is complex and takes a different trajectory for everyone who loses. The Kubler-Ross stages of grief model was not intended to be prescriptive, as reactions are not the same for those who grieve the loss of a loved one. Unfortunately, “stages” and “tasks” have been viewed by some as regulatory. George Bonanno’s research group found that there are no specific stages everyone must go through in order to adjust. The author presents good material about resiliency in grief. Most of us do not experience overwhelming or unending grief. We manage to regain our equilibrium and move on, but this does not mean that no pain or sadness exists.

Sadness is viewed negatively by some theorists, but the author states that “sadness turns our attention inward so that we can take stock and adjust.” It helps us focus with deeper and more effective reflection. In this way, sadness helps us accommodate to our loss. It puts life in slow motion, giving time to evaluate the meaning of the loss and make plans for the present and the future.

Sadness becomes destructive when we obsessively linger on it and allow it to control us.

Bonanno emphasizes the oscillating nature of grief. We focus on the pain and sadness. We explore the implications of our loss, but this is not a constant 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. Our minds swing toward other people and events in the present. We connect with people and even engage in humor. Then we move back to the process of mourning.

He addresses, but does not recommend, strong views about single-session debriefing for the general population after exposure to trauma. The World Health Organization’s Department of Mental Hygiene and Substance Abuse says the early intervention “is likely ineffective and some evidence suggests that some forms of debriefing may be counterproductive by slowing down natural recovery.” The need for help should first be determined. Then the problem should be identified, followed by referral to the appropriate professional.

The reader may disagree with the author’s view of immortality and the hereafter, but the content of this book should make pastoral support for the grieving much more effective. One size fits all does not fly. Especially helpful in today’s globalization is his insight into grief in different cultures.

Advertisement - Digital Discipleship (300x250)

Ministry reserves the right to approve, disapprove, and delete comments at our discretion and will not be able to respond to inquiries about these comments. Please ensure that your words are respectful, courteous, and relevant.

comments powered by Disqus
Reviewed by Larry Yeagley, BA, now retired, has served as pastor and chaplain. He now lives in Gentry, Arkansas, United States.

June 2010

Download PDF
Ministry Cover

More Articles In This Issue

Zacchaeus: A man with many connections

Pastors may find some individuals with multiple problems or hindrances like Zacchaeus. But, don't lose hope! God will guide in your attempts to reach them. Many have explored the Zacchaeus story (Luke 19:1-10) from the perspective of its relation to other passages in Luke. Some have related it to the stories about the rich ruler (18:18-24), the healing of the blind man (18:35-43), the daughter of Abraham (13:16), and the paralytic (5:18-26). Others relate it not only with...

Saving righteousness

Praise God for the biblical passages revealing His righteousness-fully, freely consistently, persuasively. God's righteousness, revealed in Jesus and received by faith, can be ours forever.

Should we observe the Levitical festivals?: A Seventh-day Adventist perspective (Part 2 of 2)

In part one of this series, the arguments for celebrating the Levitical festivals of the Old Testament were discussed. Now, the author presents a possible and proper approach toward these festivals.

When the "the mark of the beast" was a biochip!

The mark of the beast is about relationship, faith, love, and obedience.

Sharing the hope again: Discussing the North American Division evangelism initiative

Evangelism is not merely a one-year endeavor, not a single all-out effort to reach more people for Christ. No, it must be the all consuming mission of the disciples of Christ to "save a perishing world."

View All Issue Contents

Digital delivery

If you're a print subscriber, we'll complement your print copy of Ministry with an electronic version.

Sign up
Advertisement - Southern Adv Univ 180x150 - Animated

Trending

Recent issues

See All
Advertisement - Digital Discipleship (160x600)