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ss triple helix - spring 2005,  Tracing the rainbow - Walking through loss and Bereavement (Book Review)

Tracing the rainbow - Walking through loss and Bereavement (Book Review)

Tracing the rainbow - Walking through loss and Bereavement - Pablo Martinez and Ali Hull - Spring Harvest, Milton Keynes 2004 - £7.99 Pb 171pp - ISBN 1 85078 487 6

A Christian psychiatrist and journalist here explore the nature of grief after death or divorce, offering telling personal histories to illustrate their points together with practical wisdom and spiritual consolation.

The authors remind us how grief is the other side of love. Its duration matters less than its direction, which is normally towards resolution.

The different feelings occur in waves, switching between denial, intense longing and depression before there can be a coming to terms with the loss. Sustained grief often follows the loss of a child or partner (this especially after divorce). Medication should not be used routinely, even when the supporters of those who mourn wish that they would move on more quickly. Intending helpers should start where people are, not where we think they should be. The diagnosis of chronic grief should only be made by a specialist.

Helpful consideration is given to the roots and recognition of abnormal grief as well as the ways in which intending comforters can help or hinder recovery. Bereavement in childhood is given special mention. Whatever the age, most people numbed by grief appreciate a sensitive supporter who stands firm as reality strikes and emotions flare. Reinvestment of emotional energy takes time, but practical help along the way means much to those feeling so drained. A prayerful, loving and supportive church can be a great help throughout, but 'we are called to listen, not to preach'.

A whole chapter is given to discussion of the painful bereavement entailed in divorce, including the feelings of the affected children. Recovery is messy and complicated, bringing confusion, loneliness and isolation before probable readjustment. Understandable anger will slowly resolve as forgiveness takes over.

Family, friends and church members should avoid judgmentalism and exercise grace. Research indicates that faith significantly helps the progress of grief. The last chapter is devoted to the specific comfort offered by the Christian faith, and its crucial role in readjustment. Despite some unanswerable questions, Christ's defeat of death offers hope -the rainbow of the title. This is an invaluable little book for sufferers and their supporters alike.

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