Voices of Bereavement: A Casebook for Grief Counselors

Voices of Bereavement: A Casebook for Grief Counselors

Voices of Bereavement: A Casebook for Grief Counselors

Voices of Bereavement: A Casebook for Grief Counselors

Synopsis

This book introduces counselors to specific bereavement situations drawn from the author's counseling practice. Theory is blended with practical suggestions for intervention and a discussion of the counselor's struggles.

Excerpt

Most practical books on bereavement fall into one of a few predictable genres. Many-perhaps most-are more inspirational than instructional, drawing upon the author's personal experience with a particular loss to offer hope or guidance for those suffering a similar form of bereavement. Others proffer spiritual counsel or religiously oriented advice to those who have lost loved ones, or to those professionals and volunteers who attempt to help them. Still others distill the wisdom of decades of engagement in bereavement work, providing practice-grounded (if occasionally idiosyncratic) principles to fellow professionals. Finally, a few draw on the expanding empirical literature on grief and trauma to portray the symptoms and sequelae of life-altering loss, sometimes featuring the distinctive results of the author′s own research program. Each of these genres has its place, and each finds a receptive readership in the diverse and multidisciplinary domain that constitutes the field of grief therapy. Not surprisingly, each also has its limitations, reflecting the selective knowledge and experience base of its author or authors.

It is in this context that Joan Beder's Voices of Bereavement makes a distinctive contribution. In a sense, Beder combines the best features of each of the above genres, offering intelligent case-based discussions of a broad spectrum of losses, ranging from the death of a partner or friend to that of a pet, and of bereavement resulting from combat or airline accidents to that stemming from degenerative disability. Importantly, Beder gives special attention to losses that are conventionally disenfranchised, when the dynamics of secrecy and stigma preclude the level of social validation and support that the bereaved require, perhaps especially when they or their specific losses (through miscarriage or murder, or death of a grandchild, divorced spouse, or therapist) are marginalized. Beder structures each case study in consistent fashion, offering a “presenting problem” orientation to the person seeking help, giving a backdrop of his or her relevant history prior to the loss, and then using these to anchor a conceptual discussion of the theoretical and empirical literature most

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