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A Brief History of DeathA Commonsense Book of DeathA Message from JakieAfter SuicideAfter You'd GoneAfterwardsAliveAll Alone in the UniverseAll Rivers Flow to the SeaAll Seasons PassAnd a Time to DieAt the End of WordsBeing with DyingBequest and BetrayalBereftBeyond GoodbyeBeyond the Good DeathBodies in Motion and at RestCatalystComfortConfessions of a Grieving ChristianContemplative AgingCoping With TraumaCrispinDarwin's WormsDeathDeath and CompassionDeath BenefitsDeath in the ClassroomDeath Is That Man Taking NamesDeath of a ParentDeath's DoorDefining the Beginning and End of LifeDon't Go Where I Can't FollowDriving My FatherDying in the Twenty-First CenturyElegy for IrisErasing DeathEthical WillsEvenings at FiveFacing Death: Elisabeth Kubler-RossFatal AttachmentsFortress of My YouthGhost at the WindowGoing Through Hell Without Help From AboveGood GriefGoodbye RuneGraceful ExitsGrave MattersGrieving for ChildrenHealing ConversationsHello from Heaven!History of SuicideHonoring GriefHonoring the Dead and Facing DeathHow We GrieveI Remain in DarknessI Wasn't Ready to Say GoodbyeIn the Wake of SuicideIt Takes a Worried ManLayoverLearning to FallLiberating LossesLife after LossLiving and Dying WellLosing Mum and PupLossLost in the ForestLove Is a Mix TapeLove That DogMaking Sense of SuicideMars and Venus - Starting Over.Michael Rosen's Sad BookMortal DilemmasNight Falls FastNobody's Child AnymoreOlive's OceanOn Life After DeathOne Last Hug Before I GoOne More WednesdayParting CompanyPeaceful Death, Joyful RebirthR.I.P.Reason's GriefRemembering GeorgySaying It Out LoudSeeing the CrabShooterSome Thing BlackSpeak to MeStandbyStayStill HereSuicidal ThoughtsSurviving HitlerThe Art of LosingThe AwakeningThe Boy on the Green BicycleThe Cambridge Companion to Life and DeathThe Case of Terri SchiavoThe Color of AbsenceThe Dead Fathers ClubThe Death of a ChildThe DisappearanceThe End-of-Life HandbookThe Forgotten MournersThe Healing Journey Through GriefThe Loss of Self: A Family Resource for the Care of Alzheimer's Disease and Related DisordersThe Lovely BonesThe Measure of Our DaysThe Mercy PapersThe MiracleThe Modern Art of DyingThe Other Side of SadnessThe Oxford Handbook of Philosophy of DeathThe ScarThe TravelersThe Trick Is to Keep BreathingThe Truth About GriefThe UndertakingThe Way of TransitionThe Work of MourningTo Die WellTuesdays with MorrieUnderstanding GriefWakeWhat Dying People WantWhen Breath Becomes AirWitWrinklesYoung@Heart

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How We GrieveReview - How We Grieve
Relearning the World
by Thomas Attig
Oxford University Press, 2010
Review by Leo Uzych, J.D., M.P.H.
Aug 23rd 2011 (Volume 15, Issue 34)

How We Grieve is a book about grieving.  The author, Professor Thomas Attig, is an applied philosopher.  At the start of Chapter 1, the reader is introduced pithily to several stories of grieving.  As explained in a “Note”, at the chapter’s end, the recounted stories are composites of real life stories.  Over the course of the book, Attig continues to anecdotally add flesh to the bones of these stories about loss through death.  Strands of person specific discourse, tethered to these stories, are interwoven adeptly with threads of more generalized discourse.  The textual soil is richly fertilized intellectually by the seeds of the many ideas implanted by Attig, appertaining to grieving.  An overarching thematic message imparted by the text is that grieving entails relearning.

Structurally, a relatively lengthy “Introduction” is followed by six chapters.

At the end of the respective chapters are “Notes”, providing citations for research  materials referenced in a particular chapter; many of the Notes are annotated.

The substantive body is enshrouded by a cloak of discourse which is notably esoteric in nature.

Writing esoterically, Attig offers a profundity of thoughtful ideas and insights, pertinent to an understanding of grieving.  The thoughtfully idea laden and insightful discourse permeating the text should be of great value to readers searching for fuller understanding of the complexities of grieving.

Expert criticism, of elements of the research literature relating to grieving, forms part of the text’s substance.

A few anecdotal snippets, in the form of quotes, anecdotally make a contribution to the text’s vitality.

Intellectual intensity and much erudition pervade the text throughout.

Grieving as an active response is substantively taken up in detail, in Chapter 2.  In the view of Attig, the coping process of grieving requires an active response.

With a skillfully applied brush, Attig, in Chapter 3, paints a picture showing some of the features of respecting individuals as they grieve.  In expertly opinionated fashion, Attig expounds on what is necessary, in order to respect grieving individuals.  In this enframing context, Attig comments perspicaciously on perceived vulnerabilities of grieving persons.

The substantive essence, of Chapter 4, is rooted deeply in the ground of relearning the world after loss by death.  The thematic concept advanced powerfully by Attig is that loss by death challenges a grieving person to relearn the world.

In penultimate Chapter 5, Attig, exhibiting his customary thoughtfulness and abstruseness, elaborates on grieving persons relearning themselves.

Finally, in concluding Chapter 6, Attig focuses readers’ attention sharply on the area of relearning (by grieving persons) of relationships with the deceased.

From a critical perspective, some authorities may dissent from particular views and ideas put forth by Attig.

With regard to structure,  the book, alternatively, may have been structured as a collection of essays written by contributors equipped professionally to expertly evaluate grieving from an array of relevant perspectives, including possibly:  psychological,  philosophical, sociological, spiritual, ethical, and cultural.

The book’s substance is replete with anecdotal matter, which may cause critical concern.

Additionally, critics may opine that the relatively esoteric nature of Attig’s writing is not tailored optimally to fit lay readers.

But plainly, the efforts of Attig contribute importantly to fuller understanding of grieving.

These efforts may be quite intriguing intellectually to a wide gamut of professionals, encompassing:  psychologists, psychiatrists, bereavement counselors, gerontologists, social workers, sociologists, philosophers, psychoanalysts, psychotherapists, behavioral therapists, theologians, clergy members, social scientists, medical ethicists, hospice workers, nursing home personnel, and primary care physicians.

 

© 2011 Leo Uzych

 

 

Leo Uzych (based in Wallingford, PA) earned a law degree, from Temple University; and a master of public health degree, from Columbia University.  His area of special professional interest is healthcare.  Twitter @LeoUzych


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