In 2014, I reviewed the Rev. Alister Hendery’s book, Earthed in Hope. That book was a New Zealand-based reflection on funerals – our context being much enriched by Māori (the indigenous people of Aotearoa New Zealand) very down-to-earth approach to death. I heartily recommended that book.
This book, The Grief Walk, is the sequel and complement of the previous one. While the funeral is a very important part of grief, it is a gateway into the longer walk with grief.
This is a practical, down-to-earth book. It is is for people who are grieving, and for people who want to support them. That includes clergy, church leaders, and others.
Alister’s book is based on his years of experience as a priest, on his particular and open interest in death, funerals, and grieving, and on his studying of quality research in these areas – there is a good bibliography at the back of the book. His is a 40-year journey. Far too often, people present grieving as a one-way process with well-defined stages, concluding with something they call “closure”. I strongly reject such an extremely unhelpful model. Alister does also; he is clear that your grieving is unique to you.
Often, people of faith (and others) can present saccharine ‘solutions’ to grief that deny the searing pain of grieving. Alister’s book also eschews such an approach.
You can see the chapter topics here. Chapter 4, I think is central to Alister’s approach:
4 – Understandings and Misunderstandings about Grief
- Our Loss and Grief is Unique – so Forget the Rules
- There’s No ‘One Size Fits All’ – so Forget Stages in Grief
- We Wax and Wane – so it’s Okay to Retreat from Time to Time
- A Continual Presence Which can Ambush us – so Forget the Timeline
- Continuing Bonds – So Forget about Having to Let Go
- Grief Doesn’t get Closed Off – so Forget about Closure
- Our Life has Changed – so Forget the idea of Returning to Normal
- We Grieve in Our Own Way – so Forget the Stereotypes
This is followed by chapters including how we experience grief, how we can accompany a grieving person, God and grief, and the hope for the grieving person’s future.
If you are looking for one book on grief where you can be assured of being in safe hands, I cannot recommend The Grief Walk too highly.
- Earthed in Hope
- Celebrating Eucharist Update
- Is This Prayer Illegal?
- Four Stages of Life
- Matthew in Slow Motion 35