Combs offers a practical guidebook for coping with setbacks and loss.
Combs (Worst Enemy, Best Teacher, 2005, etc.) uses her extensive experience with cross-cultural conflict resolution to explore ways to survive tough times, even if they feel like conflicts “with the gods.” Although her expertise is evident, she avoids unnecessary jargon and offers down-to-earth, realistic advice that can be used in most difficult situations. Her humor and the sensibleness of her suggestions elevate this work above many in the self-help genre; not only is it useful, it’s a pleasure to read. Combs makes the innovative argument that people may be using excellent techniques to cope with grief, but they’ll still likely fail if they’re using those techniques at the wrong time. Thus, the organization of the book divides difficult times into four seasons, emphasizing that the best coping strategies for one season are not necessarily appropriate for the other seasons. The cycle begins with autumn, when things that have been cherished or people who have been loved “fall” away. Autumn is also the season for envisioning positive consequences, perhaps using a mantra or prayer to increase focus on those potential outcomes. And although American culture emphasizes action and confronting problems head-on, Combs cautions that during winter, people need to rest and gather strength. In spring, celebration and ritual are important in order to mark the ending of one phase of life and the transition to another. Summer represents the cycle’s end, when people are ready to move forward from their difficult circumstances and re-engage fully in life and relationships. In her discussion of each season, Combs offers specific recommendations for how to best cope with the emotions and tasks of that season. She provides multiple examples from countries and cultures, and she enlivens the text further with quotations from people of various ages, ethnicities, eras and professions. The uplifting conclusion is both a summary and inspiration.
A useful grief guide with groundbreaking ideas, expert advice and a compassionate tone.