The Grief Recovery Method

When clearing your clutter, some of the most difficult things to sort through and let go of are items that belonged to or remind you of someone who has died.

The Grief Recovery Handbook

It can be just one small object you come across that takes you by surprise and opens the floodgates of tears. Or it can be so many things that you don’t even want to begin. I’ve seen entire rooms left the way they were when the deceased person was alive because it’s too painful for the grieving partner or relative to even go in there. And I can’t count the number of attics, garages and junk rooms I’ve seen full of inherited things that need to be gone through, but the person can’t bring themselves to do it. Each time they try, the grief that surfaces is too overwhelming.

Life after loss

Death is a part of life, and grief is a normal and natural response to the loss of a loved one. But no one teaches us how to grieve. We’re told that time heals, but frankly, it doesn’t. The best most people can do is learn to live with their grief by stuffing it down in one way or another. Years later, it’s still there, buried deep inside.

So is that it? Are we all doomed to live with grief for the rest of our lives, like the walking wounded? One man who decided differently was John W. James, founder of The Grief Recovery Institute® and co-author of The Grief Recovery Handbook, described as the gold standard when it comes to giving specific tools on how to heal your heart following a loss. With over half a million copies in print, the book has helped countless people all over the world to work through their unresolved feelings. It guides you through the essential steps to complete your relationship with the person who has died, so that you can recover and move on.

‘Completing does not mean that you will forget your loved one,’ the authors explain. ‘What we are completing is our relationship to the pain caused by the loss.’ The techniques are so simple that anyone can do them, and as is often the case with such archetypal simplicity, they are profoundly effective.

The best advice I can give, therefore, if you have lost someone dear to you, is to not even think about sorting through their belongings until you have gone through this grief recovery process first. There will still be sadness, but it greatly lessens the pain.

How long do you have to wait to start the recovery process?

In the book there is a two-part quiz to help you answer that question:

  1. If you fell down and gashed your leg and blood was pouring out, would you immediately seek medical attention? The obvious answer is yes.
  2. If circumstances and events conspired to break your heart, would you seek attention immediately, or would you allow yourself to bleed to death emotionally? Pick one!

The authors say most emphatically: It is never too soon to address your grief.

Of course, as we go through life, there are many other types of losses we experience, such as divorce, separation, losing a job, loss of health, loss of trust, loss of safety, moving home, and so on. The Grief Recovery Method can be applied to these too. Other books by John W. James and Russell Friedman include When Children Grieve (about helping children deal with loss), and Moving On (about completing and moving on from relationships).

Grief recovery specialists

If you would prefer to have the help and support of an experienced professional, then there are certified Grief Recovery Specialists who are available to do individual and group sessions in the US, Canada, UK, Mexico, Sweden, Africa, Hungary, Singapore, China, Columbia, New Zealand and other places. You can check to see if there is one in your part of the world by doing an internet search for ‘Grief Recovery Method’ and the name of your country.

The Grief Recovery Handbook

I’ve been told that The Grief Recovery Handbook has been translated into 16 languages. Here are the ones I’ve managed to track down, with links if I’ve been able to find them:

Finnish: Surun työstäminen
German: Trauer(n) heilt
Hungarian: Gyógyulás a gyászból
Spanish: Superando Pérdidas Emocionales
Swedish: Sorgbearbetning

And, of course, it’s available in English from Amazon sites around the world and other booksellers.

Copyright © Clear Space Living Ltd 2013

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After a bereavement
Moving on after the death of a pet
The best place to store ashes
Death – The Great Journey

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About Karen Kingston

Karen Kingston is a leading expert in clutter clearing, space clearing, feng shui, and healthy homes. Her two international bestselling books have combined sales of over three million copies in 26 languages and have established themselves as "must-read" classics in their fields. Her best-known title, Clear Your Clutter with Feng Shui, is now in its fifth edition. She is best known for her perspective-changing insights and practical solutions that enable more conscious navigation of 21st-century living.
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4 Responses to The Grief Recovery Method

  1. Hi Karen
    I was Blessed to have the help of my spiritual Teacher Adi Da Samraj during my husbands illness and death. We studied His book Easy Death which is a unique and very indepth study of death.We were very much helped and guided at such a difficult time.
    I had experienced many deaths in our family years before but I was never so well prepared or supported as with my husbands passing. Seven years on I am in a very different place of ongoing love and connection and have not suffered loss as I previously had.

    On cleaning out my husbands things I had to go through his over night bag he used as a pilot.
    I made a morning to do it as I knew it would be emotional.
    I sat down on the attic floor opened it up and on top was a few typed pages of jokes.
    I proceeded to read them and spent 20 minutes laughing!
    It was as if he had done it to make it easy or to say dont cry laugh and have fun!
    I feel honoured to have been with my husband for 23 years and to have been with him when he died. To be with someone when they die can be the most extraordinary spiritual time.
    Had I not read or had Adi Da Samraj’s guidance I would have found it a very different experience !
    Virginia Hanlon

  2. Karen, this is a very thought provoking article. Thank you for touching on this subject. Death is a fact of life and yet everyone must find their own way of dealing with it. I can accept my parents’ deaths due to old age, but I’m still emotional about the passing of my rough collie dog. I’ll check out one of these books. Thanks.

  3. Too many times grieving people are expected to “get over it” because a few weeks or months have passed. Anyone who has experienced grief knows that it doesn’t work this way. It takes as long as it takes, and that’s different for everyone. And it cannot be rushed. As a society we’re so uncomfortable with death that dealing with its reality is avoided at all costs. When will we learn?

    Thank you for a thoughtful post!

  4. It’s true. Things that are memorable are hard to let go. The Grief Recovery Handbook – Sounds like a great book. Thanks for sharing.

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