The AfterGrief: Finding Your Way Along the Long Arc of Loss (Paperback)
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A validating new approach to the long-term grieving process that explains why we feel “stuck,” why that’s normal, and how shifting our perception of grief can help us grow—from the New York Times bestselling author of Motherless Daughters
“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.”—Claire Bidwell Smith, author of Anxiety: The Missing Stage of Grief
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. The AfterGrief explains that 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 re-triggered 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.
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.
About the Author
Hope Edelman is the author of eight nonfiction books, including the bestsellers Motherless Daughters and Motherless Mothers, and the memoir The Possibility of Everything. Her original essays have appeared in many anthologies, including The Bitch in the House, Behind the Bedroom Door, and Goodbye to All That. Her work has received a New York Times notable book of the year designation and a Pushcart Prize for creative nonfiction. The recipient of the 2020 Community Educator Award from the Association for Death Education and Counseling, she is also certified as a Martha Beck Certified Life Coach, and facilitates Motherless Daughters retreats and workshops all over the world. She lives and works in Los Angeles and Iowa City.
“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
“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, coauthor of Modern Loss: Candid Conversation About Grief. Beginners Welcome.
"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
“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
“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
“Lucid . . . noteworthy . . . a timelessly relevant chronicle on enduring grief.”—Kirkus Reviews
“[Hope Edelman] urges readers to understand that there are no timetables for loss and no firm rules. Death is part of everyone’s life. Community helps us cope, and Edelman’s knowledgeable and thoughtful book offers a gentle, compassionate guide to grieving.”—Booklist