A relationship does not die when a person dies.

Bereavement Support Groups: Breathing Life into Stories of the Dead

By Lorraine Hedtke

This book, Bereavement Support Groups, fills the gap between the challenges to conventional grief psychology and the practice of bereavement counseling. The deceased person has often been left behind in counseling conversations, requiring the bereaved to distance themselves from honoring memories that could soothe their heartache. Ironically, the stories about the dead person have not featured prominently in the grief experience.

This book offers a structured guide for facilitating bereavement support groups, but is intended as more than a simple "how to" book. It will also inspire readers with invigorating practice ideas. This new way of thinking includes the stories and love that remain after death. Here is a model for folding the deceased person's values, legacies, meanings, and connections into the lives of the living. The book shows how to utilize the metaphorical presence of the deceased, accessed through stories, actions and rituals, to affirm the relationship with the deceased as more than a lost memory to be shelved next to dusty old photo albums.

Reviews

"One ironic legacy of 20th century bereavement counseling is that it often has compounded the very losses it has tried to heal, by promoting practices that encourage banishment of our deceased loved ones from our ongoing lives. In this compact and original book Lorraine Hedtke boldly challenges this prevailing wisdom, instead imagining into being a cornucopia of conversational and reflective resources that help conserve and extend the stories of our loved ones' lives, braided together so tightly with our own. In doing so she weaves a strand of caring continuity through lives challenged by change, and helps construct community to offset the sense of isolation that can grow in the wake of loss." —Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD, editor of Techniques of Grief Therapy: Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved

"Never having to say 'Goodbye' is the thrilling message of this life-changing book." —Mary Gergen, Ph.D., Penn State University, Brandywine and 2011 Recipient of the

"Hedtke's ground-breaking, refreshing approach to loss and grief gives new life and hope for those who have lost loved ones and for the professionals who help them. 'Remembering' becomes the key to peace in the present and the future." —Harlene Anderson, Ph.D., Houston Galveston Institute. Consultant, Trainer and Author

"Lorraine Hedtke challenges the counseling profession to avoid pathologizing grief. Using a narrative approach, this new model finds ways in which the deceased person's stories can be kept alive and made a part of the lives of the living. The theoretical perspectives form the basis of activities in a group setting. The book critiques conventional grief psychology and makes it clear that when a person dies the relationship does not have to die. There are many concepts group facilitators can incorporate in their work with people who have experienced a significant loss." —Marianne Schneider Corey, Licensed MFT, Author, Consultant —Gerald Corey, EdD, Professor Emeritus of Human Services, California State University, Fullerton

"This book is a 'must read' for all professionals who provide bereavement support and grief counseling. Lorraine Hedtke clearly presents and beautifully illustrates a very powerful alternative to traditional grief counseling. Traditionally, suppressing feelings and disconnecting from loved ones who have died is emphasized. This essentially tells us to say goodbye to those loved ones. Lorraine shows us how to maintain and enhance the meaning and value of those special relationships and how to incorporate them productively, appropriately and effectively into our living far beyond the time of the loved one's death. Lorraine's innovative remembering, narrative approach normalizes the feelings generated by death and transforms them into a catalyst which empowers us to create a new and generative relationship with those who no longer are physically with us." —Bob Cottor, MD, Ryan House

"WOW! HOW REFRESHING! Finally someone is talking about a 'relationship' instead of a 'closure' with a deceased loved one. I personally have never wanted to go to a grief counseling session that talked about 'getting over with it.'

Because I wanted to keep the memories alive, I have been writing letters to my deceased husband for the past 12 years and it is wonderful to keep our relationship alive in this way. Focusing the grief process to one of continuing the "relationship" and of remembering and sharing stories of our deceased loved ones is life-giving to me. I am so glad to read Lorraine's book. I hope it will add a new dimension to grief counseling." —Frances Erickson Cooperrider, RN