‘Guide for Grief’ crosses boundaries to reach universal truths

EDITOR’S NOTE: We are honored to have the musician, educator and long-time advocate for cancer patients Elaine Greenberg join our writers by sharing her thoughts about the book Guide for Grief. The origins of this column by Elaine were some weeks ago during a conversation about grief, which is described in this earlier story in our magazine. As a result of that conversation, Elaine began reading some of our recommended books and has agreed to share her thoughts with us. Earlier, she reviewed Never Long Enough. Thank you, Elaine!


Contributing Columnist

Click on this cover to visit the book’s Amazon page.

“Everyone dies. Every family grieves. People are terrified of admitting that we are aging, let alone dying.” These words appear on the back of the Rev. Dr. Rodger Murchison’s book, Guide for Grief.

Reb Nachman of Breslov, the beloved Hasidic Rabbi, tells us (and I paraphrase here): “We are not afraid of dying; we are afraid of living.”

Two different thoughts–one from a Christian pastor and one from a rabbi who lived in Poland during the 1800s. Both speak of death and the fear that exits among most of us about the subject.

The book Guide for Grief is exactly that—a Guide to help us through our grief after the loss of a loved one. Dr. Murchison writes, “This guide’s perspective is Christian, but all families will benefit from these well-tested principles.” I am a Jewish Woman who can attest to that truth, because this book that has helped me dealing with the death of my beloved husband, Shelly, who I lost in 2021.

When Dr. Murchison writes about all the different aspects of grieving, he is answering so many questions we have all had:

  • What Happens When We Die?
  • How Do I Live Without My Loved One?
  • Are There Healthy and Unhealthy Ways to Grieve?
  • Why Did My Loved One Die?
  • How Long Will My Grief Hurt?

These are questions that millions of us who have dealt with grief have asked.

Dr. Murchison knows these questions because he has counseled many people who are grieving. He doesn’t have all the answers, but he is very helpful in the way he presents his theories. Each chapter ends with a comforting prayer. Many of them containing quotes from well-known psalms.

In Chapter 9 “What About Those Who Mourn Children and Children Mourning?” He writes beautifully written as he covers the difficult subject of death and dying as it affects children.

Several weeks ago my great-grandson, John, was visiting, and as he sat on the kitchen counter so we were eye to eye. He looked at me and said “Why are you so sad?”

Now John just turned 4, so when he asked me that question I realized if this little boy is asking me about looking sad, I need to do something about this. I don’t want him to think of me as his Bubbie (Grandma) with the sad face. I said to him “Would you like for me to smile?”

And he answered me with a beautiful smile: “Yes.”

Later, he asked me “Do you miss Zadie (Grandpa)?”

And I said, “Yes, do you miss him?”

He looked at me and said “Yes, and Zadie can’t hear me when I talk to him, but I can hear him right here”—and he held his hand over his heart. This little 4-year-old was teaching me about grieving and that I needed to smile more and that he was communicating with his beloved Zadie through his heart.

Out of the mouths of babes—

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