||Apr 5, 2013
How to grieve and maintain your sanity. A rational and compassionate approach to bereavement.
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Humanist Grief - book page
Non-religious individuals who are experiencing grief need a resource that they can turn to as they process their grief. They need a resource that will help them cope, as Humanists, with the emotional trauma that is the grieving process. This is that book.
While there has been a lot written about grief, not much has been written from an explicitly Humanist perspective. The needs of a Humanist, while grieving, are slightly different from others because Humanists, being rationalists, refuse to allow themselves to be comforted by the false hope of reunion that is a staple of religious belief.
I decided to write this book to help people who are experiencing grief come to terms with it in a rational and compassionate way. After presiding over my first funeral as a Humanist officiant, I realized that a book on Humanist grief was needed. I felt the pain the bereaved were feeling and I longed to be able to provide them comfort.
Humanism provides an excellent framework for coping with grief. It is rational, compassionate and responsible. We accept our grief in the present with the goal of finding a way to live our lives fully despite our loss.
This book is offered to you as a resource that you can turn to as your process your grief: providing insights and meditations to help you contemplate how you approach your grief in the hopes that it might ease your journey somewhat.
If you are considering this book, there is a good chance you are struggling with grief right now. If that is the case, you have my deepest sympathy. I hope my book helps
Insightful on dealing with grief
A good read for anyone suffering from a recent loss. On the plus side, I found the observations and advice throughout to be common sense and insightful. Jennifer used both hypotheticals and personal experiences in an analytical manner to make some very valid points and generate helpful hints. From the title, I expected a book strictly about the grieving process through the Humanist lens. Actually, much of the book would relate to the grieving process - what to expect, how to navigate, and how to emerge happy - independent of religious beliefs or non-beliefs
Review by Ryan Jean, US Army Captain and Humanist Celebrant
There's no easy way to deal with grief. According to every major religion, the only way to get past grief is to imagine that those you have lost are "in a better place" in which you may one day see them again, and that the loss was part of a larger, cosmic plan for everyone's lives. Many find little consolation in this view, however, because it does not address the feeling of loss you are experiencing at the time and merely offsets the feelings with others you are supposed to embrace in the place of the grief. Still, for many such a small measure of hope can be comforting in turbulent times. Those who lack religious belief, however, have a different problem in that we cannot find comfort in what we believe to be false hopes. How, then, can the non-religious grieve, and how can they find a path through that grief to find happiness in their lives once again? That is the question Jen Hancock addresses in her short book, The Humanist Approach to Grief and Grieving.
Jen approaches the subject not as someone offering a salve to medicate you out of your worries, but as someone who knows grief personally and is now offering to pass the torch gained by her experiences on to others so that their ways may be lit. She shares a heartbreaking personal story, but refuses to take the easy path of clinging to false hopes and instead embraces reality: she will never get to watch her daughter grow up and live her own life, and will never meet up with her in any afterlife either, but she can better honor her daughter by choosing to live on and to allow happiness in her life once again than by wallowing in the loss forever. This is a crucial part of the essence of Humanism: life is for the living, so embrace it and move forward.
At first I was confused by the book's format; it is short, in fact strangely so at roughly 30 pages for the copy I read, and most of its content is in the form of essays that originally appeared elsewhere. You can read the entire thing on a single metro ride, as I did. As I read, however, I grew to like the way that choice broke the book into quick and digestible pieces, with a different moral and different tips for each section, even if I still wished it was more incorporated into a single narrative and less a collection of other works. Grief is experienced in different ways by everyone, so at the very least breaking it up this way allows one to focus on the components most important to them, and the length makes it quick to absorb in a time when you may not be able to put extended focus on reading. I appreciated that the tips given were basic and easy to follow, but also that they didn't pretend to be a panacea but instead focused on steadying your footing to continue on your own healing path.
In the end, this is a good book, although it could still use some fleshing out and a good copy editor. I would recommend it as a tool in the kit for celebrants and counselors looking for material on addressing grief without resorting to religious illusions, and as a more grounded beacon of hope to those experiencing loss of their own.
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