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Mature Grief: When a Parent Dies.

MATURE GRIEF: WHEN A PARENT DIES. By Donna Schaper. Cambridge: Cowley, 2002. Pp.103. $11.95.

Schaper's work is a welcome contribution toward understanding the thoughts and feelings one experiences on the death of a parent. Especially important is the fact that S. emphasizes the experiences rather of grieving adults than of grieving children. The death of a loved one, especially a parent, is generally painful, but an adult experiences the grieving process much differently than a child. While a child may feel abandoned in the death of a parent, an adult may have unresolved feelings such as anger or bitterness or perhaps indifference or coldness. S.'s book is one of the few in the marketplace that deals exclusively with adults and their grieving process.

Throughout, S. emphasizes the importance of forgiveness as a path to spiritual healing. Actively forgiving one's parent after death allows the surviving children to transcend the negative emotions that they may feel toward their parent. Negative emotions that are allowed to fester and go unchecked usually prevent healthy grieving and a positive resolution.

One salient point that S. could have explored is the role of ritual in grief work. She briefly mentions the place of rituals, but stops short of fully exploring important events such as visiting the gravesite and personal and communal prayer. These ritual and symbolic actions provide survivors the context, vocabulary, and images to fully express their emotions and feelings toward God and toward their deceased parent. The book would be a helpful text for courses in pastoral theology and counseling.


Union Institute and University, Cincinnati
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Author:Mills, William C.
Publication:Theological Studies
Article Type:Book Review
Date:Jun 1, 2004
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