Posture and Relevance of the text to topic of fertility grief
Good Grief, by Granger E. Westberg, is a short book that outlines 10 stages of grief:
- We Are in a State of Shock
- We Express Emotion
- We Feel Depressed and Very Lonely
- We May Experience Physical Symptoms of Distress
- We May Become Panicky
- We Feel a Sense of Guilt about the Loss
- We Are Filled with Anger and Resentment
- We Resist Returning
- Gradually Hope Comes Through
- We Struggle to Affirm Reality.
Westberg’s writing on the subject of grief is significant because of his status as a “pioneer in holistic health care and the interrelationship of religion and medicine.” (From the bio on the back of this book.) This text comes out of significant experience in academia and hospital chaplaincy. Westberg relates the 10 stages that he describes to a wide range of griefs, highlighting the (nearly) universality of these stages. Fertility grief is a profound grief which these 10 stages well address.
What grieving individuals, and their pastors or lay caregivers, can expect to learn glean from the text:
Because fertility grief has been so unexamined and unattended, naming these particular stages in relation to the grief of infertility, miscarriage, or the death of an infant (a grief which, admittedly, gets significantly more attention than the others) is a critical to the healing of those who grieve and the caregiving of those who care. Fertility grief can become a healthier grief when it is accepted by those who are struggling, by their faith communities, and by their pastors, as a complicated grief with many stages. Applying these stages of grief to fertility grief can help communities of faith better address the acute and long-term needs of those in distress. And it can validate the powerful emotions felt by those who have lost or are exhausted by waiting.
Suggestions for best use
This text is a quick and accessible read making it a great resource clergy, lay leaders, and those who are grieving. Suggestions for best use include:
- A resource kept on hand by faith communities to be given as an offering of validation and support to those experiencing fertility grief.
- A resource to be read together by the church staff as they consider, together, the acknowledgement of fertility grief in the pastoral care, liturgy, and worship ministries of the church.
- A resource for training lay ministers or congregational care volunteers in relation to providing care for those experiencing fertility grief
- A resource around which to shape a fertility grief support group
- A resource for families or close friends who are struggling to grasp the fertility grief of one they love.
This text was first published in 1962 and it’s language bares the marks of a previous generation. Many of the examples highlight old patterns of understanding gender. (The male is the bread-winner and the woman grieves at home). The author makes little effort to use gender neutral language. If these can be set aside as simply a product of their time, the substance of this text is very useful.