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THE HEART OF GRIEF by Thomas Attig


Death and the Search for Lasting Love

by Thomas Attig

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 2000
ISBN: 0-19-511873-1
Publisher: Oxford Univ.

A sensible discussion of personal loss, and a program providing guidance and solace to mourners.

Attig (Reclaiming the World, not reviewed) contends that we mustn’t evade feelings of loss or wallow in them, but should continue to love the person we mourn; we must learn to love people in their absence. Mourners fritter away too much energy, in the author’s view, yearning for what can no longer be: although we cannot expect a dead person to be present to us in an immediate or palpable way, we can keep our love alive, allowing the dead to forever enhance our lives. Ceremonies (particularly funerals and memorials) help us navigate the initial turmoil of grief, but they are merely the first “tentative steps toward lasting love.” The path to healing is documented in the many stories recorded here. One grieving mother in Israel sought out her late son’s friends and regularly visited his kibbutz: by better understanding his life, she was able to move beyond merely missing him. Another woman, whose husband died of a brain tumor, gathered memories and photos from friends and relatives so that her young children would have a permanent record of their father: after his death, these scrapbooks became a permanent memorial to her husband. Another tragedy involved the parents of a young son who died of AIDS after a tainted blood transfusion: they found solace in making a memorial panel for the AIDS Quilt.

A bit redundant but effective method for transforming painful events into enriching experiences.