Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life

Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life

Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life

Bereavement: Studies of Grief in Adult Life


The loss of a loved one is one of the most painful experiences that most of us will ever have to face in our lives. This book recognises that there is no single solution to the problems of bereavement but that an understanding of grief can help the bereaved to realise that they are not alone in their experience.

Long recognised as the most authoritative work of its kind, this new edition has been revised and extended to take into account recent research findings on both sides of the Atlantic. Parkes and Prigerson include additional information about the different circumstances of bereavement including traumatic losses, disasters, and complicated grief, as well as providing details on how social, religious, and cultural influences determine how we grieve.

Bereavementprovides guidance on preparing for the loss of a loved one, and coping after they have gone. It also discusses how to identify the minority in whom bereavement may lead to impairment of physical and/or mental health and how to ensure they get the help they need. This classic text will continue to be of value to the bereaved themselves, as well as the professionals and friends who seek to help and understand them.


When a love tie is severed, a reaction, emotional and behavioural, is set in train, which we call grief. This book is about grief; more particularly, it is about what happens to the survivors when a person dies.

The loss of a husband or wife is one of the most severe forms of psychological stress, yet it is one that many of us can expect to undergo at some time in our lives. At other times we may be expected to give comfort and support to relatives or friends who are themselves bereaved. This unpleasant thought may well prompt us to shrug off the whole nasty subject and look for lighter reading – for what can one say? And yet grief, like any other aspect of human behaviour, is capable of description and study, and when studied it turns out to be as fascinating as any other psychological phenomenon.

Books about the psychology of sex are seldom pornographic and, for similar reasons, a book about grief need not be doleful. The very act of thinking objectively about distress places us at one remove from the distress. This applies as well to the sufferer as to the helper, and Eastern mysticism is much concerned with the development of means of dissociating oneself from one’s own suffering.

It would seem to follow that a book that helps people to think about grief may make both the experience and the witnessing of grief less unpleasant.

But if dissociation is a necessary part of clear thinking it may also be a defence against thinking. The focusing of attention on one aspect of a situation automatically excludes from attention other aspects. Even ‘clinical detachment’ can be used as a defence. It is a recurrent problem for those in the ‘helping professions’ that in order to function effectively, to ‘enjoy’ being a good doctor, nurse, clergyman, lawyer, or whatever, they must allow themselves to approach . . .

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