Celebrate Recovery - Uncategorized

The Grief Recovery Handbook: Overview

The Grief Recovery Handbook, by John W. James and Russell Friedman, is an instruction guide for overcoming grief and saying goodbye to the grieved relationship. Their theory is that incomplete relationships cause continued grief and suffering to the griever.

If the reader follows the steps outlined in their handbook, the griever is able to bring the relationship to completeness and free the griever of lingering side effects. The steps outlined in the book are meant to be done with a partner, but it also outlines instructions for someone to work alone.

Identify Grief Myths

The book begins with an overview of loss, the grief recovery process, and how our early beliefs about grief can continue to influence us today. It then leads into the first assignment- identifying myths the reader may have believed or continue to believe about grief.

Identify Short-Term Energy Relievers

After myths about grief have been identified, the book leads the reader to analyze how they deal with or have dealt with grief un unhealthy ways. These are called short-term energy relievers, because although they may distract from or numb the feelings of grief, they do not deal with the root emotions and causes.

Loss History Graph

The next step in the recovery process is to graph a timeline of the grief events one has experienced during their lifetime, beginning with their earliest memory as a child. The book defines grief as, “…the conflicting group of human emotions caused by an end to or change in a familiar pattern of behavior.” The reader is encouraged to plot any experiences they feel should go on the graph, as “All losses are experienced at 100 percent intensity when they occur.”

Choose a Loss to Complete

After the loss history graph comes the real work- identifying a loss that the reader feels needs completion. If the reader identifies several incomplete losses, they choose the one they would like to focus on first.

Relationship Graph

Once a loss has been identified, the reader then creates a relationship graph. Unlike the loss history graph, which only focused on loss and grief, the relationship graph focuses on the entirety of the relationship- both positive and negative interactions. The goal of this graph is to identify and record undelivered communications.

Recovery Components

Recovery components are three main ideas taken from the relationship graph, which the reader completed in the previous step. These are: apologies, forgiveness, and significant emotional statements. The reader is encouraged to convert each item on their relationship graph into a recovery component.

Loss Completion Letter

The final step to completion in this handbook is a loss completion letter. This letter should take the recovery components identified in the previous step and format them into¬† a goodbye letter. According to the book, “Failure to say good-bye can often negate all the good work you’ve done. It is the good-bye that completes the communication.”

Final Words

If the reader has multiple losses they would like to work on, they simply go back to the relationship graph step and perform the final three steps for that particular loss.

The book ends with guidance on how the reader can address new losses that may come to mind in the future. It also has tips on dealing with various loss issues other than death, such as: divorce, adoption, infant loss, dementia, abuse, loss of religious faith, career losses, health losses, and moving.


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