Experiencing the Loss of a Family Member – A Book Review

Experiencing the Loss of a Family MemberIf we live on this earth, we will all experience loss. Sometimes we wade into the losses that we experience while other times, we dive right in, experiencing the loss of family members or friends who are close to us. When we experience loss and dive into a time of grief, how do we appropriately wade through it? How do we venture through grief, especially when our society seems to want to push past it and not even address it?

H. Norman Wright has experienced loss of his own. He lost his 22 year old son who was severely disabled and his wife who succumbed to breast cancer. It is out of the depths of this loss that Wright is able to write and share. He is not coming in as a counseling or therapy expert alone, he is able to share his thoughts and guidance through grief because he has personally experienced deep and painful loss himself. His voice of experience speaks volumes when it comes to grief.

This book is laid out in such a way that it can serve as a handbook, so you can pick and choose the chapters that may be more applicable to your own experience if you don’t want to read the whole book. There are insights throughout the book on the journey through grief, tucked in among the specific chapters. Wright starts out with an overview of the world and process of grief and then walks through chapters that deal with specific losses such as the loss of a spouse, the loss of a child, the loss of a parent, and the loss of a sibling. Wright even adds chapters on losing friends and pets (as pet lovers can attest to the fact that pets become part of your family).

Part of the strength of this book is the permission that Wright gives to the reader/grieving one. He says, “Everyone grieves differently, and there isn’t one right way to grieve. Never compare your grief with another’s; your grief is uniquely your own.” He talks about the potential physical implications that will be seen as one journeys through grief, the complexity of emotions that will be experienced, and some helpful hints as to how to make the journey less bumpy. He wouldn’t go so far as to say that the journey through grief is easy, but his suggestions can at least help to ease the pain a little.

Throughout the chapters, there are questions that can be asked by the reader (or others) to try to explore and even get to the heart of grief. Wright offers advice from others who have written on the subject of grief and includes helpful Scripture references that may bring salve to the wounds of grief that are experienced.

Wright’s style of writing is such that you almost feel yourself reliving some of your own losses as he describes the emotions experienced. I felt myself knotting up inside as I read through some of the implications of losing parents. Wright’s experience in loss is an asset for him as he doesn’t describe the process of grief in psychological jargon but in conversational prose. He makes a connection with his reader with this approach. The only criticisms that I have for the book are that it can feel a little overlong if you read it from front to back rather than using it as a manual. The other criticism is that there are times when the scriptural reference seem rather forced or obligatory rather than flowing naturally out of an essential part of coping with loss. A deeper theological treatment of grief would have been helpful.

Besides those few critiques, the book was good. It’s a book that I could easily recommend, in sum or in part, to someone who has experienced grief and is looking for some answers for their own coping. If you know of someone who has experienced the loss of a family member or if you have experienced that loss, you might give Wright a try.

(This review is based upon a copy of this book which was provided free of charge from Bethany House Publishers. These opinions are my own; I was not required to write a positive review, nor was I compensated for this review.)

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