Review of Bob Deits's Life After Loss

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When it comes to required academic reading, I can be a rather fussy reviewer. After all, I don’t get to choose the books that I read – they’re required. However, Life after Loss is a purposeful and very well thought-out book. Author Bob Deits paints a picture of grief in a very honest, if not blunt, manner that seldom repeats itself. The anecdotes used (even if he used the annoying tactic of making them up) were engaging and inspiring. Each chapter was concise, uncluttered, and easy to read, and bullet points were used sparingly and to good effect. In this soup to nuts introduction to the grief process, the physical, emotional, and relationship elements of this difficult topic were presented in a strength based and compassionate way.

Sadly, life is a terminal illness, and dying is a natural part of life. Deits pulls no punches as he introduces the topic of grief with the reminder that life’s not fair. This is a concept that most of us come to understand early in life, but when we’re confronted by great loss directly, this lesson is easily forgotten. Deits compassionately acknowledges that grief hurts and that to deny the pain is to postpone the inevitable. He continues that loss and grief can be big or small and that the period of mourning afterward can be an unknowable factor early on. This early assessment of grief reminded me of Prochaska and DiClemente’s stages of change, and how the process of change generally follows a specific path.

As in the stages of change, pre-contemplation or denial is followed by the slow understanding that a profound alteration in our lives is occurring. In this early stage, Deits encourages the reader to focus on the immediate personal needs of the grief stricken. Early in this pr...

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...t won’t provide any shortcuts. However, religion can provide a good moral support network, and serve as a healthy place to begin processing the grief experience.

In the later chapters, Diets covers the finer details about children and grief, losses in later life, and a more detailed look at points covered earlier. This book reveals close similarities to addiction recovery, including building motivation, coping with stress, managing thoughts and feelings, and transitioning into a more “normal” life. It also includes valuable instructions on how to start support groups.

I have little doubt that this book will be a terrific addition to the library of any counselor of any stripe, and will be recommended reading for anyone mired in the pain of grief. I ‘m certain that I will not abandon my copy, and that it will always be a first-option resource in my library.

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