Browning’s debut workbook offers help for individuals coping with grief and loss.
Beginning with a personal care contract, Browning’s program leads readers through 10 chapters to assist them in addressing their needs, both emotional and physical, while coming to terms with loss. From the stages of grief to understanding anger and feelings of abandonment, Browning carefully explains each concept and helps readers identify where they are in the grieving process. Each section includes exercises to put the concept into practice, and she also offers coping techniques designed to encourage those experiencing grief to move forward. For example, she helps readers prepare for a phenomenon called “Sudden Temporary Upsurgences of Grief”—aka triggering—in which a mundane object or experience can send someone back into the throes of grieving, no matter how far along in the process that person is. To counter this phenomenon, Browning instructs readers to list multiple situations in which this might happen, identify the most likely and write constructive responses for each instance. She provides other practical tips and exercises throughout the book. Occasionally, however, the exercises and language seem a bit simplistic, even juvenile. Take, for example, the section on the stages of grief, where the first exercise instructs readers to “draw a roller coaster on white paper with crayons.” Similarly, phrases such as “hatred is a poison that hurts the world” come off as reductive. The musical suggestions listed for each exercise include songs such as Mariah Carey’s “Hero” and “The Rose” by Bette Midler, which may seem overly sentimental to some, although Browning does say that any music will work. The book is written in first-person plural, and while Browning acknowledges those who helped her develop the program, the fact that she is the only author listed is at odds with statements such as “we are here for you and with you” and “we are certain of your success.” Still, Browning is astutely aware that grieving can be a formidable experience, and outside of some generalization and oversimplification, she offers thoughtful insight and proactive methods for handling monumental emotional turmoil.
Too light at times, but overall, a comprehensive start to help people through the grieving process.