Books reviewed by James Woodward

Effective Grief and Bereavement Support

Effective Grief and Bereavement Support by Kari Dyregrov and Atle DyregrovThe Role of Family, Friends, Colleagues, Schools and Support Professionals
Kari Dyregrov and Atle Dyregrov
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2008, £19.99, ISBN 9781843106678

Yesterday morning, like many hundreds of priests across this country, I conducted a funeral service.  Sadly, the deceased had struggled with cancer and died at a relatively early age, leaving his family deeply pained.  We worked together to produce a service that acknowledged this pain and celebrated life. 

The burial, always in my experience a very raw experience, left the family numb and shocked.  There was little more I could do but to assure them of my sympathy and prayers and give them the space at the graveside to simply be.

As I drove away from the cemetery I was left wondering what kind of support families like this might need in the days, weeks and even years ahead.  Grief takes different shape in people’s lives and, inevitably, we all cope with this depending on a range of circumstance.

This book addresses some of these questions demonstrating how social networks can provide an important source of support following sudden bereavement.  Inevitably, people feel a great deal of uncertainty about what to do following the death of someone close.  There can be an uneasy silence as those who accompany the bereaved struggle to know what to do or to say.  These two authors working in Norway, from a psychological and sociological perspective discuss a range of issues and processes aspiring throughout the text to improve the way in which support processes can be improved.  Issues covered include common reactions to grief; problems that can arise within families as a result, and when to involve professional assistance.  There is particularly good material about helping bereaved children.

The book is clear, stimulating, informative and well organised.  It helped, even someone who has had significant experience in the theoretical and practical world of bereavement, to expand perspective and consider how best to respond to the need for support.

James Woodward