The Truth About Grief
by Ruth Davis Konigsberg


Simon & Schuster, 2011. ISBN 978-1-439-14833-4.
Reviewed by Judith Helburn
Posted on 04/04/2011

Nonfiction: Life Lessons; Nonfiction: Cultural/Gender Focus

The subtitle for this book is "The Myth of Its Five Stages and the New Science of Loss." Konigsberg clearly states that the five stages of grief initially theorized by Elizabeth Kubler-Ross (the five stages of facing the end of one's life) have no scientific foundation. It was only late in Kubler-Ross' life that she, herself, transferred those stages into grief as well—which, in turn, grew into careers and opportunities for grief and bereavement counselors, therapists and organizations.

There is little serious study of how Americans, or any others, deal with the death of a loved one. What has been proved is that "most people are resilient enough to get through loss and reach an acceptable level of adjustment on their own" within six months of a death. Naturally, there are exceptions. Konigsberg cites a study by George Bonanno which finds that the positive emotions, not the negative ones, hasten healing. She gives detailed information on how grief counseling after 9/11 was handled—or mishandled. Konigsberg continues, "We also need to give much deeper consideration to how grief is created and shaped by our social and cultural environment."

The Truth About Grief is a well researched, well written, and important book about how Americans are encouraged by a relatively new "industry" to handle their losses. It calls for more research as well as respect for how other cultures handle their grief.


Ruth Davis Konigsberg is a journalst and editor. She has written for numberous publications, often about psychology. She lives in Pelham, NY with her husband and 2 children. Visit her website.

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