A Necessary Grief: Essential Tools for Leadership in Bereavement Ministry by Larry J. Michael
What are the necessary tools in bereavement ministry and how do we minister well to others dealing with the downtrodden? These questions are at the heart of Larry J. Michael’s new book called A Necessary Grief: Essential Tools for Leadership in Bereavement Ministry.
The best part of the book is Larry’s insistence on making clear distinctions between various terminology and offering a holistic view of ministry to those going through loss.
In the beginning of the book, Larry helps the reader by differentiating between grief and mourning. Larry writes, “Grief is the inward process that involves our thoughts and feelings after experiencing loss. Mourning is the outward process that involves the expression of our grief. It is often referred to as “grief that has gone public (24).” Mourning is the sign that we see all around us with morose faces, gloomy expression, and looking like a person is not fully alive. Grief is the inward process, the questioning, the deep wellspring of loss that we feel as we know that person is no longer with us.
Secondly, Larry carefully brings up some fallacies of grief that we often come across in daily life. One of them, “Grief is something to Get Over,” was one I hear often. Larry writes, “Grief is not an illness from which someone must recover. It is a process to which a person experiences change and transformation over a period of time (55).” Larry points to King David as one who grieved dearly after the death of his son Absalom, never fully recovering from his grief but enduring it till his death. I would add that many people don’t know what to say to someone grieving deeply and so words are better left unsaid. Larry also brings up the vital truth that faith doesn’t make grieving easy. The comments that someone is in a better place don’t take away the fact that they are gone from a person’s life.
Overall, I think this is a very good book and one that I will go back to when ministering to those in grieving situations. There are also good sections on children dealing with grief.
Thanks to Kregel Ministry for the copy of this book in exchange for an honest review