Resilient Grieving: Finding Strength and Embracing Life After a Loss That Changes Everything LucyHone, foreword Karen Reivich
Author Lucy Hone and forward writer Karen Reivich provide an academic credibility to this book so that readers can be confident that the strategies discussed in the book are credible. Lucy is a psychologist who works in the field of understanding and developing resilience. She has written a book about applying her knowledge of resilience to her own experience of significant grief and loss. Lucy currently works as a researcher in resilience and well-being at the Auckland University of Technology. The forward to her book has been written by Karen Reivich who is the Director of Training Services at the Positive Psychology Centre at the University of Pennsylvania.
In the course of travelling to a family holiday destination, a horrific car accident caused the death of Lucy’s daughter Abi, her best friend Ella and Ella’s mum who was Lucy’s close friend. Lucy has written this book partially to make meaning of what has happened to her, her family and community and to offer support to others faced with similar situations which, as she points out early in the book, is all of us. Part of the human reality is that we all face grief and loss.
Lucy discusses honestly and openly the decisions she made faced with an unthinkable situation. As a psychologist, armed with knowledge and experience, she was able to look to the research. She has also been able to question and reconsider some of what is often part of the landscape of grief and loss theory. One of the assumptions common in grief and loss literature which Lucy challenges is that grieving is in some sense a passive experience which happens to you and takes as long as it takes. While Lucy doesn’t discount this as a process appropriate for some people, at some times, she asks how this might apply to someone like herself who has two other young children and a husband who are depending on her to support them and help them to continue their lives. She points out that it is important to make choices in the areas you are able to. The death and loss of a loved one is not a choice available to any of us, however, there are many other choices still open to those who are suffering grief and loss. Lucy points out that these choices give us a measure of control. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross’s five stages of grief is discussed and its limitations examined. A key criticism of this model is that the model implies that grief is somewhat linear. Grief comes in stages and you work through each stage until you are ready to move on to the next stage. Lucy’s lived experience, she explains, is more like a game of snakes and ladders in which you move up, down and back and forth in a somewhat random way depending on your own emotional state and the environment you find yourself in.
After an initial preface which sets the scene for Lucy’s credentials for writing about resilience and why she has selected grieving as the focus of her book, she structures the book into two parts. The first two through twelve chapters provide a range of strategies to support recovery from the initial loss and resultant, at times, overwhelming grief. The final chapters focus on how to continue life in a meaningful way which includes honouring and remembering the lives of the deceased. Throughout the book Lucy points out different sections which readers can skip to if they have a particular interest or need to read that section first. She frequently reiterates that grieving is an experience that is as unique as the person going through the grief and there is no right or wrong way to grieve. At the end of the book she provides ‘The Resilient Grieving Model’ which is pictured as a puzzle. Each piece of the puzzle is labeled with strategies and are labelled with the page in the book where she fleshes out the strategy listed. Lucy writes that the pieces can fit together in whatever order is useful to the bereaved person and that each piece is a signpost or key which provide tools to manage the experience of loss.
This is a book which will find a wide audience with parents as they look for ways to manage their own experience of grief and or their children’s experiences of grief and loss. It is written in an easy to read style and it does have the backing of academic research and is fully referenced which is useful for professional readers. Lucy’s relating of her own personal experience adds weight and credibility to the strategies.
Robyn Stead, Child Psychologist and Educator, lives and works in central Auckland.