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For Your Library

Principles and Practice of Grief Counseling by Howard K. Winokuer and Darcy L. Harris, Spring Publishing,, 2012.

As a teacher of a grief and loss in the Graduate School of Social Work at the University of Arkansas-Little Rock, I have been in a search for a new textbook. Some seem too dry, some too narrow and others not current with contemporary understandings of grief, mourning and counseling approaches. With this new book by Winokuer and Harris, however, I think that I have found the book with the right balance of head, heart and updated perspectives.

Principles and Practice of Grief Counseling helpfully starts with the basics of counseling and then examines what makes grief counseling different within the counseling world. Building on that foundation, the book explores the development of current thinking and understanding about grief and loss. Issues explored include different types of losses, working with emotions for both client and counselor, ethical concerns, and specific therapeutic techniques. Winokuer and Harris have feet in both academic and counseling worlds, and they bring insights from both along with frontline examples from their clinical experiences. This is an excellent core, introductory resource for both students and clinicians who seek grounding and orientation to the world of current understandings of grief and how to be of help to those impacted by loss. Thanks to Winokuer and Harris for providing this book to fill a gap in educational resources. I'm looking forward to using this book with my class in the coming fall.

Jane Brody's Guide to the Great Beyond: A Practical Primer to Help You and Your Loved Ones Prepare Medically, Legally, and Emotionally for the End of Life by Jane Brody, Random House,, 2009.

Jane Brody writes a personal health column for the New York Times. She also writes books and has written about food, nutrition, allergies, colds and flu. In this book, however, she ventures boldly into deeper waters. Her gift is to take the wisdom of broad and sometimes complex current research on a subject and present it to readers in understandable and engaging ways. In this she succeeds in a book whose subject is both broad and deep. While we need helpful and useful information, we often respond mostly powerfully to stories. Brody fills her book with real-life stories which illustrate both the challenges and constructive responses to the variety of issues relating to dying and death in our culture.

The title of the book, Jane Brody's Guide to the Great Beyond: A Practical Primer to Help You and Your Loved Ones Prepare Medically, Legally, and Emotionally for the End of Life, is remarkable long but is also a good description of the breadth of topics explored. There are eighteen readable chapters and they cover expected topics such as living wills, funerals, hospice and palliative care. Other less covered topics are also welcome and include living with a bad prognosis, conversations at the end of life and doctors who disappear. Controversial issues such as assisted dying are included as well as practical (and philosophical) topics such as autopsies and organ donation. Brody has the biases toward taking issues head-on, open communication and understanding well your options while being mindful of the intensity and challenges of life and death issues (she might have a second career in palliative care). In the end, this is a very practical, informative and helpful book for those willing to explore and confront the complexity of issues relating to our dying. It is intended for a general audience but can be useful for end-of-life professionals, too, with its summary of issues and practical suggestions.

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