Current pop psychology in America tells us that grief proceeds in five specific stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and finally acceptance. But how do we make sense of things when our grief does not follow the rules? How does this help us move forward in life after a loss that radically changes our view of the world?
Following the loss of her parents and friends, Susan Berger, found that her own grieving process failed to follow this rote progression and that she needed additional tools to move beyond her loss. Through research and ten years of working with the bereaved Berger, a counselor and hospice volunteer, found that while people move through their grief in unique ways, they appear to follow five main archetypes: the Nomad, who wanders with unresolved grief and fails to establish a new identity; the Memorialist, who focuses on honoring the deceased; the Normalizer, who works to recreate the life they lost; the Activist, who helps others dealing with similar issues; and the Seeker, who explores philosophy in an attempt to reestablish meaning in life.
Within each type Berger gives numerous and varied profiles to illustrate the coping pattern along with its advantages and disadvantages, strategies for healing and growth, and questions for further exploration. Thus, finding ourselves in these archetypes assists not only in giving meaning to loss, but also allows us to grow and create a new healthy direction and worldview.
Often heartbreakingly direct, but always gentle and respectful, The Five Ways We Grieve speaks frankly and refreshingly about the diverse impacts of death and loss. Endeavoring to connect each person to assistance appropriate for their grieving, Berger concludes the book with an appendix of resources for self-help, while acknowledging that any advice from others can only play a part in our healing. Ultimately it is we who must journey through our grief, to find hope and re-embrace the fullness of life.