Sunday, December 27, 2009

Grief and the Holidays

Losing a loved one is always difficult, but so many find the grief devastatingly unbearable during the Christmas season. In his new book Transforming the Valley of Grief, author Tom Mason shares his journey of grief after the loss of his wife. This slim volume is a manual for anyone who is coping with grief and offers practical insight and suggestions to those in “the valley of grief” this Christmas.

Transforming the Valley of Grief (Xulon Press, September 2009, ISBN 978-1-60791-616-1) follows Mason’s own journey from the moment the tsunami of grief crashed into his life, through the peaceful, solitary moments meeting God in the wilderness, in the times where unexpected memories triggered flash floods of emotion and to the moment when the valley opened up and he was able to fully embrace his changed life. The book includes many specific, practical tips for both grieving men and those who love them and want to support them through the valley. Each chapter concludes with a “notes to self” section with positive suggestions for men to try at different points in their journey of grief and a “notes to others” section. At the back of the book there is a collection of discussion questions perfect for use in a grief support group.

This slim volume is the perfect gift for the friend or loved one who is coping with loss, and it is essential reading for anyone who wants to support a grieving man but doesn’t know what to do or say. Mason offers beautiful spiritual insights, often drawing from the comforting words of the psalmist. But perhaps more important are his detailed directions for surviving single life—everything from how to plan an effective mini-sabbatical and how to find your way as a “pre-married” in the church singles group to what you should do with the leftovers your wife would have made creative use of (toss them and forgive yourself). The loss of a loved one always brings change, and Mason helps readers think through the various decisions they will face as a result (i.e., Should I stay here or move away? Do I want to remarry someday?).

Mason shows readers that, though the journey of grief begins in the darkness of the valley, God will reveal new light, joy and purpose as you “do the work” of grieving and He transforms the valley. “There is hope, even if you can’t believe it right now! There is light at the end of the tunnel,” Mason says. “There is an end to your dark valley, and this book is about getting there and the various steps and stages along the way.”

Tom’s journey of grief is the topic of his book, Transforming the Valley of Grief, a new manual for grieving men which documents his healing process and contains many practical suggestions for others who find themselves (or their friends) dealing with the loss of a loved one. He was compelled to write the book after searching in vain for a book on grief written from the male perspective to guide him through his own journey.

“I am absolutely convinced that men and women process grief differently. Women are from Venus, and men are from Mars, after all,” Mason says. “Women process grief verbally; men retreat to their caves to grieve in isolation, or at least, they are expected to do so.” Tom has written this book so that no man must travel the valley alone.

Although it's a couple of days after Christmas, this is still a timely book, for grief is not limited by the calendar. This is a good book for a man who is grieving as well as for his friend who wishes to learn what is helpful -- and what is not! The chapters are brief and relatively easy-to-read. (I say that with the understanding that nothing is easy-to-read in the midst of heartache!) The practical suggestions help the reader put feet to the concepts in each chapter. If you or someone you love is walking the journey of grief, grab a copy for him and one for you as well!

Transforming the Valley of Grief can be purchased here.

Thanks to The B&B Media Group for providing a copy of this book for my review.


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2nd Cup of Coffee said...

Good review,Lid.

Kim said...

I'm an awful blogger, and don't comment on others nearly enough, but I'm a great follower! So thankful that I follow yours, especially today, as this book is EXACTLY something that would be beneficial to me right now.

For two reasons: My hubby has had a LOT of grief in his life and is a "stuffer". He's learning, over the years, that the more he stuffs, the more he hurts and doesn't know how to release it all to God, talk about it, etc. I'm thinking this would be a great addition to our reading.

Second reason: I have a dear friend who is battling stage 4 gastric cancer. She and her husband (a senior pastor) are the parents of 6 daughters. We're praying, hoping, trusting for a miracle and that she will be healed on this side of Heaven, but if God chooses to take her home sooner than we'd like, I would like to have this book, down the road, to offer him if God so leads me.

Thank you for your review, and for your blog...even though I don't comment much, I appreciate your insight! ;)