Writing in the New York Times, Abigail Zuger, M.D., reviews The Other Side of Sadness, by Georege Bonanno, a new book on grieving that breaks the stereotypes of the grieving process suggesting that resilience is the most common and effective process:
Orthodox psychology has long emphasized the grim slog in store for those who must live without the people they cannot live without. Freud called it “grief work,” a process of painfully severing the emotional ties to the deceased. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross mapped out five morose stages of effective grieving.
But if you actually talk to the bereaved, says George A. Bonanno, you find these classic perspectives are pure — well, Dr. Bonanno doesn’t actually say baloney, but so he implies in his fascinating and readable overview of what he calls “the science of bereavement.”
Just as meticulous observation and experiment transformed astronomy from a compendium of mythology and wishful thinking into a coherent science, the same tools are changing the psychology of loss.
A professor of clinical psychology at Columbia University, Dr. Bonanno has now interviewed hundreds of bereaved people, following some for years before and after the fact, looking for patterns.
His conclusion: the bereaved are far more resilient than anyone — including Freud, and the bereaved themselves — would ever have imagined.
h/t to Scott Gunn on Twitter