Complicated Grief

complicatedGriefToday I’m very proud to announce that an anthology I contributed to last year on complicated grief is now available: Stories of Complicated Grief: a Critical Anthology, edited by Eric Miller.  The electronic version is announced on the website of NASW (National Association of Social Workers) Press—an American publisher. Here is an excerpt from the preface by Miller:

To the best of my knowledge, I am unaware of any books with the particular focus of this anthology. Although there are some books that feature a single author’s reflection on his or her own (complicated) grief, there are fewer that seek to highlight select narratives conducted by researchers who primarily use them to showcase broader themes of loss or grief. Furthermore, there are few books primarily authored by scholars who have personally experienced complicated, difficult, or protracted grief and are willing to openly write about their experiences while also placing their stories into a larger academic context. Frankly, I believe that a book of this nature—that is, a critical anthology—helps to fill a significant void in the academic, clinical, and general literature.

I haven’t seen the whole book yet, so won’t comment on its contents, other than to say that many of the chapters in this book challenge the notion that complicated grief is a psychiatric disorder and should be treated as such; the authors here, I believe, relate that, however harrowing and devastating their experiences have been, they have experienced personal growth from them, and in particular, have learned to understand and integrate them more fully through writing their stories.

That’s certainly true for me, in my story of losing my three young children, who were abducted by their father to USA and kept apart from me for the rest of their childhood. My love for them was a bitter-sweet experience of loss, yearning, and love which lasted through all our separation and separate trials and suffering and learning. It has, indeed, been hammered into the gold of unconditional love, and is my most precious gift.

I look forward to reading the book in print, and will report on it here when I do.



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17 responses to “Complicated Grief

  1. Maive Jackson Collett

    Congratulations Christina, another feather in your cap!

  2. Thank you, Maive! It’s really a tribute to love.

  3. Congratulations, Christina. All too often prolonged grief is seen as abnormal, and as you say, is considered to be a psychiatric disorder. A person is expected to ‘get over’ grief in a ‘timely’ manner. I suspect this is because witnessing grief makes other people uncomfortable. The anthology in which your chapter occurs breaks new ground and will hopefully lead to a greater understanding of grief in its many guises. This is a contribution to true scholarship. Well done! From my own experiences, I wonder if there is a link between protracted grief and the sadness that comes in some sense from one’s own actions or inaction?

    • Thank you, Maureen. I agree with your reflections, and I hope this anthology will be widely read and contribute to people’s understanding of prolonged grief. And yes, I’m sure there’s that complication of regretting one’s own part, whether active or passive, in the loss. Certainly true in my case. But I also think that forgiveness of others who may have contributed and forgiveness of oneself doesn’t take away the grief, though it may resolve the remorse. I can forgive, but I am still deeply sad about what happened.

  4. Louise Allan

    I look forward to reading your essay, Christina, and the book. Sounds like some important stories have been told. Thanks for letting us know it’s available, and congratulations on publication!

    • Thank you, Louise! I’ll post on the book when I get the print copy, which may take a while.

      • Louise Allan

        No problems. I will buy the e-version as I’ve finally taken the plunge and bought an e-reader. I will miss buying the actual book, but I’m tired of vacuuming around the stacks of books piled on our floors because we have no room on the shelves, and when I search through the boxes under the roof or in the storage shed and still can’t find the one I’m looking for … well, I had to do something.

      • Christina Houen

        I know what you mean! After many moves, with books in heavy cartons, I’ve reduced my stock to no more than two bookcases, and when I get surplus, I pass them on. I tried i-reading (Kindle) but didn’t like it. Let me know how you go!

  5. Grief is such a difficult and complex area and, reading yours and others’ comments, having worked things out well enough to write and place them within an academic arena is an achievement. Congratulations on this publication. I look forward to reading it.

  6. Christina Houen

    I think that theorising self, life, desire, trauma and grief really helped me to understand my self and others better; I don’t need to keep doing it, I feel as though I reached an understanding, and it has lightened my path, which is a lovely experience. I think theory is only useful if it can illuminate our lives.

  7. This is wonderful, Christina. I’ve been away all weekend and just read the news: the book is out. Yay for all of us.

  8. Looking forward to it, Christina. Good luck with getting the word out. I’d love to read it.

  9. I had no idea of your own story and grief. Yes, we can find our way through awful situations, but it takes time. Even at the distance of time and place, I am sorry.

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