Following the unexpected death of my only brother in 1997, I began
work on a book about the unique grief experience of surviving adult
siblings. In the process of writing Surviving the Death of a Sibling:
Living Through Grief When an Adult Brother or Sister Dies, I had the
opportunity to speak with thousands of bereaved siblings. During
the course of most of these conversations, the subject of grief dreams
invariably came up; it was the one topic everyone wanted to discuss.
It was Bertha Pappenheim — the famous “Anna O.” of Josef Breuer’s first
experiments with psychoanalysis, and a pioneer social worker in her own
right — who first named psychotherapy “the talking cure.” And so it is, as
a legion of well-controlled studies documents. Across a surprising variety
of psychotherapeutic approaches, verbal exchanges between client and
therapist can be powerfully curative — except when they aren’t.
It is unlikely that a person would wake up one morning and
say, “Grief, what a concept, I think I’ll make it my life’s work.”
That is not how it happened for either of us. We are John W.
James and Russell Friedman, and together we represent the
Grief Recovery Institute.
Here is a little outline of our lives, the institute, and the evolution
of The Grief Recovery Handbook.
John was thrust painfully into this arena by the death of a
child in 1977. After discovering a successful process for completing
his grief, he continued his career in the solar energy
This book concerns 88 families and their 157 children who coped with the
terminal illness and, ultimately, the death of a parent. It presents a qualitative
analysis which complements the quantitative findings reviewed in Chapter 2 of
how the families and children responded to these events during the 6 months
preceding and the 14 months after the patient died. Five developmentally separable
age groups emerged from the data, and the groupings clarified the many
ways in which children’s development shaped their responses.
In addition to these reactions, research based on interviews with individuals experiencing grief
indicates that such individuals may go through the following processes: trauma, shock, denial
(by ignoring warnings or ignoring messages to take protective actions), anger (for example, in
the form of emotional outbursts or assigning blame to others), bargaining (trying to find
something to mitigate or solve the problem), depression, acceptance of loss and forgiveness.