Mature Grief: When a Parent Dies

Article excerpt

Mature Grief: When a Parent Dies. By Donna Schaper. Cambridge, Mass.: Cowley Publications, 2002. 103 pp. $11.95 (paper).

The purpose of Mature Grief is to help the reader "explore the inner road through grief to greater and more settled maturity" (p. 95). Using several case examples the author explores the hard work of grieving the death of a parent. Sometimes griei is simple; at other times it can be contusing and complex. Schaper obviously has several years oi experience as a pastor working with parishioners and being at the bedside of dying patients.

While acknowledging that our relationships with parents traverse through "ebbs and flows, assuming greater and lesser importance," they "go deep and run through our whole lives" (p. 65). The connections we have made with parents have a profound effect on the many diverse ways we cope with their deaths. It is often a "mixed bag" of emotions that the author summarizes with a question: "How will we relate to the mixed blessing and cursing we encounter in those to whom we want to give love and whose love we want to receive in return?" (p. 52). This question is explored through several illustrations of individuals who have experienced different kinds of relationships with their parents, either loving, or overly dependent, or indifferent. There is also practical guidance about the significance of anniversaries and holidays, as well as family issues and matters of estate and possessions.

Donna Schaper focuses on sibling survivors and how the grief experience of one can be very different from that of another. Preconceived assumptions are not always accurate, and it is important to facilitate effective communication among survivors.

An area of importance not Fully covered in lier book is the issue of transference and anger toward a surviving parent. …