Wendy Bray and Diana Priest
ISBN 9781853453854 (1853453854)
CWR, 2006 (98pp)
This book is an excellent introduction to the issues of bereavement, focusing predictably on death, but touching many other aspects of loss and grief.
The authors offer sensitive insights tempered by their own experiences, with flowing language and practical illustrations of principles being examined. It would be unfair to expect too much of this book. It is not a complete compendium. If it were such, then one suspects its target audience would be overwhelmed. On the contrary, this compact book could well be placed in the hands of those experiencing bereavement and looking for greater understanding of both themselves and the issues they are dealing with. Equally it will serve as a wide and inspiring read for those seeking to support the bereaved.
It came as a surprise to find that the first chapter explores “What is death?” since it may at first sight seem painfully obvious. Predictably the reader discovers some very thoughtful deeper insights into the meaning of death and it is so helpful for this somewhat taboo subject to be drawn sensitively out of the closet into the open, yet in the sunlight of The Loving Father.
Other topics include an explanation of bereavement, loss and the varied journeys through bereavement. It also includes insights into remembrance, lament and being touched by God’s love on the bereavement journey.
The advice given is sometimes very practical indeed, such as suggestions on how to cope with mood swings. Another down to earth example is this, “If the bereaved person is able to cope with tiny bits of the day, they will cope longer term. Having control over a small piece of life — making a cup of tea — reminds them they are not falling apart.” The book also includes some valuable thoughts about taking care of the carers, so that they also receive support and refreshment in order to be able to continue their invaluable ministry. It touches briefly on helping children through their grief, although for those deeply immersed in that aspect of supporting the brereaved, this book will only serve as a very useful starting point.
The wonder of this book is that whilst it is concise it is in no way trite, but is indeed a precious resource for any who are touched by bereavement and as such it is heartily commended by this reviewer.
Colin Green, October 2008
Colin Green is a recently retired school teacher, with personal experience both of bereavement and of leading funeral services, including a funeral oration for a twelve year old pupil. Colin is now embarking on a ministry of leading funeral services and is training as a counsellor. Find out more at www.chaplaincolingreen.org.uk.