Published in the Autumn 2012 edition of The Compassionate Friends magazine, “We Need Not Walk Alone,”  Joy Johnson, cofounder of Centering Corporation, reviewed Dr. Wolfelt’s book, “Healing a Parent’s Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Child Dies.”

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 Alan’s Healing series includes some of his best work on healing the grieving hearts of parents, children, teens, and friends. All of the books are easy to read, can be opened at any page for quick inspiration or help, and contain quiet gems of wisdom, such as the following, for coping with grief:

1. Know that you will survive.

2. Know that you are not alone.

3. Allow your numbness.

4. Understand the difference between grief and mourning.

5. Be compassionate with yourself.

As you can see from number 4 above, this book contains good information as well as outstanding support. Grief is the collection of thoughts and feelings experienced when a child dies. Mourning is the expression of the grief, and Alan tells us early on that in order to heal, it is important to mourn. As you read, you’ll find many suggestions and ideas to help you mourn. Alan may have a PhD, but his ideas are simple and real. When we’re grieving, we’re not likely to be comfortable digging into a dissertation. We prefer it simple.

Moving on to the middle of this friendly book, we find these suggestions:

51. Be mindful of anniversaries.

52. Take good care of yourself.

53. Keep a journal.

54. Acknowledge all the losses the death has wrought.

55. Organize a tree planting.

Notice the progression. We move from recognizing our grief to beginning to do something about it. While, as we know, grief never entirely goes away, there are ways we can honor it and start to live again. Following the steps in Alan’s book, we see ourselves move forward. Later in the book, the list includes:

95. Identify three people you can turn to anytime you need a friend.

96. Get a new haircut, highlights or color.

97. Reassess your priorities.

98. Make a list of goals.

99. Recognize the concept of “reconciliation.”

100. Embrace the ways you are growing through your grief.

We can see the progression really well now. Alan takes us gently step-by-step into healing. We don’t have to hurry. We can read number 12 or number 45, or even number 1 again and again until we’re ready to embrace that idea. We’re not pushed We’re not hurried. We’re led and encouraged.

I like the Healing series. I like this book. If I could change one thing about it, I would make the print darker or larger. That’s because I’m a great-grandmother now, and I’ve learned that old eyes need help and healing, too. But no matter how light or dark the print, you’ll like this book. It may be carried daily to read anytime, or placed on your bedside table for those sleepless nights. Wherever it ends up, it will definitely have a place in your heart and hopefully in every TCF chapter library.