The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss

The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss

by George A. Bonanno

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The conventional view of grieving, encapsulated by the famous five stages, is defined by a mourning process that we can only hope to accept and endure. In The Other Side of Sadness, psychologist and emotions expert George Bonanno argues otherwise: All of us share a surprising ability to be resilient, and to expect or require grief-stricken behavior from the bereaved simply does them harm. In fact, sorrow can actually deepen interpersonal connections and even lead to a new sense of meaning in life.

For survivors, The Other Side of Sadness is a must-read and a refreshingly positive perspective on death and dying. It will be fascinating for anyone interested in our innate ability to thrive in the face of adversity.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780465021901
Publisher: Basic Books
Publication date: 12/28/2010
Edition description: First Trade Paper Edition
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 255,220
Product dimensions: 8.38(w) x 11.34(h) x 0.65(d)
Age Range: 13 - 18 Years

About the Author

George A. Bonanno is professor of clinical psychology and chair of the Department of Counseling and Clinical Psychology at Columbia University's Teachers College. He lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

Table of Contents

Author's Note viii

Chapter 1 The Worst Thing That Could Ever Happen 1

Chapter 2 A Bit of History 11

Chapter 3 Sadness and Laughter 25

Chapter 4 Resilience 45

Chapter 5 Whatever Gets You Through the Night 67

Chapter 6 Relief 83

Chapter 7 When Grief Takes Over 95

Chapter 8 Terror and Curiosity 113

Chapter 9 Between Was and Is and Will Be 131

Chapter 10 Imagining the Afterlife 145

Chapter 11 Chinese Bereavement Ritual 169

Chapter 12 Thriving in the Face of Adversity 195

Acknowledgments 205

Notes 207

Index 229

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The Other Side of Sadness: What the New Science of Bereavement Tells Us About Life After Loss 3.9 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
When I picked up this book I was amazed to realize that all of the other books I'd read about grief were based on something other than science. I don't know what the author was using to write the other books (like the stages books) but this one is based on decades of research. At first I was like, "Oh no, it's going to be very scientific and scary," but it was just the opposite. The feeling of the book is gentle, but factual. There were lots of moving stories I could relate to, too. I would definitely give this book to anyone I was worried about who might be mourning or who has suffered a loss. It was a relief!
carefulreaderRT More than 1 year ago
Solid book. Good science that I could understand. I learned a great deal from this book. Considering the subject matter, quite a compelling read
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Clear, scientific, sound reasoning and well-written
YoyoMitch More than 1 year ago
Everyone experiences the losses of important people in their world.  Because of this truth, when one seeks the help of a Mental Health professional, one of the major areas of evaluation during intake is to assess the level of grief each individual.   The language of “Grief Work” or the “Work of Mourning” is deeply ingrained the nomenclature of counseling profession, accepted as a matter-of-course as a result of the “research” of grief and its effects.  Grief is thought to be of such importance that a mentor once tutored me that, in regards to treating individuals, “any session that is held without an awareness of the (client’s) grief is incomplete.”  Dr. Bonano addresses this issue, using his extensive, original research and the work of other scientists, in this easily comprehended, documented tome. The author credit’s Sigmund Freud with the original idea of “the Work of Mourning” but also indicates that this is one of his less developed concepts.  As has become true with many of his concepts, Freud’s grief ideas became codified and the field of “Grief Work” was born.  Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, in her work with the terminally ill, developed “the stages” an individual experienced as they faced their nearing death.  Those stages (the term “stages” lends an inaccurate understanding of the experience) were broadened to include everyone facing any (and all) moments of grief.  Dr. Bonano argues the data indicates the broad application of Dr. Kubler-Ross’ findings is misguided, as grief is universal, personal, fluid and cannot be limited to a step-by-step event that can “completed.”   Grief will be intense at points but those moments will be relatively brief for the majority of those experiencing bereavement.  For the 15% of the population whose bereavement does become entrenched, Dr. Bonano states, what is felt is close to a Post-Traumatic Stress event caused by the loss.  Eventually, with VERY limited exceptions, those who grieve or are bereaved will re-engage with life.  Often, this reconnecting occurs within hours of the loss.  Grief does not have to be, nor is it normally, debilitating or routine.  Within the last seven months, I have faced the deaths of: an uncle, four friends, and the spouse of a friend; of those six deaths, only one, my uncle, was expected.  In my work, I sit with people who are actively grieving on a regular basis.  What Dr. Bonano writes in this relatively slim volume rings with deep truths of my encounter.  I have both experienced and seen in my clients the responses indicated by the author’s research.   The information cited by Dr. Bonano is sourced in a broad spectrum of experience, time, culture and history.  His discussion of the bereavement practices in Asia is intriguing; reading it lent perspective to how my culture responds to bereavement, specifically funerals.  The term “comfort food” had to have originated in an attempt to describe what is provided at a Southern Funeral.  The Chinese, according to this book, burn joss paper representations of the things “needed” by the departed in their life beyond this one, we Southerners cry ourselves silly then eat ourselves into a near coma.  Both responses have the same goal, to remember the departed and restore the living to life.
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CatCarlsonAmick More than 1 year ago
George Bonanno's "The Other Side of Sadness" forgives us for falling into the trap of believing there is a correct way to act, feel and react when dealing with a loss. While this idea is something may professionals may already innately understand, it's not in the subconscious of our culture - we believe, and force others to believe, that there is a correct way to act when dealing with these issues instead of understanding that it's okay to look inside ourselves and honestly express the emotions we feel. Bonanno makes it okay and lets the negative side of social construct fall away.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The approach is an attemt to quanitfy/measure and describe grief from a social psychological perspective. Not especially intended for those who are looking for support while grieving, this is written more from an academic perspective with some intersting anecdotal stories for flavor.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Too bad that your ratings do not allow one star! This book is not for the novice reader, nor is it a coffee table book. Many of the the issues with which I deal on a daily basis were not addressed at all. I have given my copy to the public library, where it may find a more appreciative audience.
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proB4 More than 1 year ago
This book was beneficial in helping me deal with the recent loss of my mother. There were several "a-ha" moments as I read his theories about grief that do not follow the previously believed stages. Little slow in some parts- got a little medical.
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