In the Presence of Grief: Helping Family Members Resolve Death, Dying, and Bereavement Issues

By Hargrave, Terry D. | Journal of Marital and Family Therapy, October 2002 | Go to article overview

In the Presence of Grief: Helping Family Members Resolve Death, Dying, and Bereavement Issues


Hargrave, Terry D., Journal of Marital and Family Therapy


Becvar, D. S. (2001). In the presence of grief: Helping family members resolve death, dying, and bereavement issues. New York: Guilford.

There are many books that give us theoretical and clinical information that may prove useful and, in some cases, invaluable to our practices. There are also many books that touch us emotionally because the author bridges the gap between the pages and our minds with wisdom and inspiration. There are few books, however, that manage to do both effectively. Dorothy Becvar has thankfully managed this feat as she gives a gift in the form of this book on working with issues surrounding death.

The primary premise of the book is that it is not possible, nor even desirable to "get over" the loss of close relationships. Instead, Becvar points us toward an idea of embracing grief as a companion that accompanies us through a complex of journey of healing. Most literature in the grief field is aimed at moving people to a point of adaptation. Becvar does this also, but with the unique twist of learning the lessons of grief so life can eventually become joyful and full of wisdom.

In part one, "The contexts of grief," the book begins with an overview of death, dying, and bereavement issues. Although this review may be ground already covered for the experienced clinician, the summary of both clinical and research findings are both complete and precise. This overview would be invaluable to those who are new to the clinical work on grief. Becvar then proceeds to present the different scenarios in which death occurs, such as unexpected death, death of a child, death of a spouse, and death of a parent. These chapters make up the bulk of the book. In part two, "Grief in the context of therapy," we are given three chapters on specific issues that clients are likely to encounter in moving through the grief experience in therapy. These chapters focus on funerals and other rituals, finding meaning in the grief process, and reclaiming joy along with the sorrow of grief. …

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