Book Review: Good Grief by Granger Westberg

By Jessica A. Kmetty

As much as we try to plan for life, we know it’s not always going to be rosy. Back in 2009, I was going through heavy personal “junk.” As I was discussing some issues with my pastor’s wife, I mentioned that I was worried some of the things I had dreamed of for my future were slipping through my fingers. As strange as it sounded, I said I felt like I was mourning the loss of my dreams and she looked at me, patted me on the shoulder, and said those feelings were not strange and I absolutely was mourning a loss.

People think about grief too narrowly. They acknowledge it’s normal when something big happens, like a death, but don’t think about how often it creeps in to so many other areas of life or how it can be present even with intangible factors. It can be present for a child when they have to move to a new school, you may be cheated on, have a loved one die, have a friend who leaves for war and comes back a different person. You may experience the loss of a limb or infertility. Some of these are physical losses, and some are the loss of dreams, ideas, or security.

Good Grief should be in the hands of anyone who is grieving. It’s a quick, short read and many chapters are no more than 4 pages long. My pastor’s wife gave me this book after our discussion. It helped at the time, but little did I know I would be picking it up at other points in my life.

When I received the book for the first time, I’ll admit that it sat on my shelf for a while because I didn’t feel like I was in a place where I could process it. When I finally did pick it up, I was encouraged because it was so easy to read. It got to the heart of what grief is, why it happens, how to deal with it, how to recognize the stages and how to move forward in a healthy way. It made me feel normal.

I’ve read through it other times for personal reasons, such as during a divorce, but also at times where I needed to help others. Most recently, I picked it back up when my fiancé’s mother was going through yet another battle with cancer. This time it helped me from a different perspective and when she passed away, I watched his family go through the different stages of grief and noted that they weren’t all in the same stage at the same time or for the same length of time. I felt better equipped to offer compassion in different ways based on each person’s need.

A few of my favorite takeaways include:

  1. Loss doesn’t need to be entirely damaging
  2. Suffering is not good, but you don’t have to be devastated by it
  3. No matter our struggle, we can be healed of our bitterness and move ahead

People of any age can read the book, whether they’re grieving or not. If you are, it may give you some tools to get back on your feet. If you’re not, it could help make you a better friend, spouse, teacher or child. The book is written by a pastor who is a pioneer in holistic healthcare with religion and medicine, and he combined the two concepts together. I would encourage you to keep an open mind if you’re not as comfortable with faith-based materials, because the tools this book offers really make a difference.

Credit for the Good Grief book image goes to Amazon

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Published for the blog on February 1, 2018 by Searcy Financial Services, your Overland Park, Kansas Fee-Only Financial Planner and Investment Manager.