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Book and Media Reviews
March 9, 2011

How We Grieve: Relearning the World

JAMA. 2011;305(10):1039-1040. doi:10.1001/jama.2011.278

Even though mortality is both certain and universal, loss of someone close almost always overwhelms survivors. The bereaved are confronted with life-altering reality and self-doubt: Why did it happen to me? What did I do wrong? Could I have done anything different? The challenges faced by survivors seem insurmountable. Some turn to self-help books, some seek solace in primary support groups, and others seek professional help.

In How We Grieve, Thomas Attig attempts to help readers understand the experiences of grieving individuals. The book is intended for those who are grieving as well as their family members, friends, support group members, and professionals involved in their care. The book consists of a preface, introduction, and 6 chapters. The message is aptly captured by the cover image of Munch's The Death Chamber. As in Munch's painting, bereaved persons sometimes react in their own ways, without offering much-needed support to each other. Furthermore, survivors sometimes find themselves unprepared to face the world without the deceased. Attig endeavors to help survivors learn to live in a world transformed by loss.