Seeing the Other Side

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May 9, 2011

How resilient are people? Do we really fall apart in every situation of grief? How is it that we can recover from horrendous trauma to life normal lives again?

In his book The Other Side of Sadness, George A. Bonanno explores mourning and the nature of human resilience in the face of grief. He suggests that the idea of people getting stuck in grief and overwhelmed by loss to the point of being unable to function over time is actually less common than people may think. The norm is actually resilience.

This challenged my ideas about the fragility of the human spirit. Perhaps we have more resources at hand than I thought. It also affirmed my own resilience. After losing a dear friend two years ago, I still am faced with ongoing "waves" of loss and grief, on what would have been her 30 birthday, for example. Yet, I am affirmed that resilience is the norm, that these waves are part of the healing process and will pass, and that I can feel or not feel and it is all normal.

"Weaving in explorations of mourning rituals and the universal experiences of the death of a parent or child, Bonanno examines how our inborn emotions — anger and denial, but also relief and joy — help us deal effectively with loss. And grieving goes beyond mere sadness: it can deepen interpersonal connections and often involves positive experiences. In the end, mourning is not predictable, but incredibly sophisticated." (From the website)

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