The AfterGrief

Publisher: Ballantine Books (October 6, 2020)

Pages: 332

ISBN-13: 978-0399179785

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This is perhaps one of the most important books about grief ever written.

It finally dispels the myth that we are all supposed to get over the death of a loved one. Hope Edelman, with her wisdom and kindness, helps us understand the ways loss stays with us through our lifetimes. This book is going to heal so many.”

CLAIRE BIDWELL SMITH
Author of Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief

Overview

Drawing on her own encounters with the ripple effects of early loss, as well as on interviews with dozens of researchers, therapists, and regular people who’ve been bereaved, New York Times bestselling author Hope Edelman offers profound advice for reassessing loss and adjusting the stories we tell ourselves about its impact on our identities.

With guidance for reframing a story of loss, finding equilibrium within it, and even experiencing renewed growth and purpose in its wake, she demonstrates that though grief is a lifelong process, it doesn’t have to be a lifelong struggle.

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We don’t ever ‘get over’ the death of a loved one.

But we do eventually ‘get on‘ with living in a world without this essential person by our side.

It takes time to learn how to live in this new world. It takes time.”

HOPE EDELMAN

Aren’t you over it yet?

Anyone who has experienced a major loss in their past knows this question. We’ve spent years fielding versions of it, both explicit and implied, from family, colleagues, acquaintances, and friends. We recognize the subtle cues — the slight eyebrow lift, the soft, startled “Oh! That long ago?” — from those who wonder how an event so far in the past can still occupy so much precious mental and emotional real estate.

Because of the common but false assumption that grief should be time-limited, too many of us believe we’re grieving “wrong” when sadness suddenly resurges sometimes months or even years after a loss. Explaining why we feel “stuck” and, more important, why this is so common and predictable, The AfterGrief offers a new and reality affirming paradigm: The death of a loved one isn’t something most of us get over, get past, put down, or move beyond. Grief is not an emotion to pass through on the way to “feeling better.” Instead, grief is in constant motion; it is tidal, easily and often reactivated by memories and sensory events, and is retriggered as we experience life transitions, anniversaries, and other losses. Whether we want it to or not, grief gets folded into our developing identities, where it informs our thoughts, hopes, expectations, behaviors, and fears, and we inevitably carry it forward into everything that follows.

Praise

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Hope Edelman is one of the foremothers of the grief revolution. Her work opened the door for honest discussions of grief long before it was considered OK to talk about your inner life. In a world that thinks you should be over your loss already, The AfterGrief normalizes grief and love — that lasts a lifetime.”

MEGAN DEVINE
Author of It’s OK That You’re Not OK: Meeting Grief and Loss in a Culture That Doesn’t Understand

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This important and empathic work speaks to those of us experiencing the enduring nature of loss who need to feel understood, and have the ongoing adjustments we make throughout our lives because of it legitimized.”

REBECCA SOFFER
Co-author of Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief. Beginners Welcome

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Grief is messy, grief is inconvenient, grief takes time; it is a process. Hope Edelman takes grief up from the underground and brings it into the light, reminding us that it is not only okay to grieve, it is essential.”

NATASHA GREGSON WAGNER
Author of More Than Love: An Intimate Portrait of My Mother, Natalie Wood

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I used to feel shame that I hadn’t ‘gotten over’ my father’s death yet. Reading The AfterGrief reminded me that there’s no such thing as getting over it. I recommend this book to anyone who has experienced grief or loss. Actually, I recommend this book to anyone who is human. And that they read it and pass it on. This book is a balm.”

JEN PASTILOFF
Author of On Being Human: A Memoir of Waking Up, Living Real, and Listening Hard

Kirkus Review

September 19, 2020
 

A timelessly relevant chronicle on enduring grief.

How the impact of human loss transcends the lives of the bereaved.
 
As she did in the bestselling Motherless Daughters (1994), which examined the emotional challenges of women who grew up without a maternal figure, Edelman dissects the dynamics of grief. “I wish there were a foolproof method for ‘getting over’ the death of someone we love,” she writes in the lucid preamble. However, “everything I’ve experi­enced, learned, and observed over the past thirty-eight years has taught me otherwise.” Drawing on her in-depth interviews with 81 individuals, the author looks at how the grieving process shaped her subjects’ lives and could potentially impact their futures as well. Edelman’s personal journey, though repetitive, is also noteworthy: Her mother died of breast cancer in 1981 at age 42, and she discusses the ever evolving meaning of her death, particularly once she became a parent and “really understood how foreshortened my mother’s life had been and what she’d missed out on by dying so young.” The author also explores grief from a historical perspective through eras devastated by war and disease, and she taps into psychological, societal, and gender-specific patterns of mourning, referencing research studies on such concepts as “the rings of grief.” Sensitive readers should brace for the heartbreaking profiles of people whose lives never fully rebounded from the catastrophic loss of a loved one, whether the death was sudden, protracted, or shrouded in mystery. These varied perspectives coalesce to show how grief endures longer than most people ever realize. Edelman emphasizes that while we may never truly outlive the fallout from loss, it becomes an element of life that can be integrated into our own unique versions of felicity. “Unexpressed grief from the past may be one of the most overlooked public health crises of our time,” writes the author, who proactively seeks to change cultural perceptions about the way it is viewed, with an eye toward improved support networks for post-traumatic growth.
 
A timelessly relevant chronicle on enduring grief.