They're a set of four books designed to be given or sent to grieving people at various times during the first year after a loved one has died. The first book is sent three weeks after the death, the second at three months, the third at six months, the fourth at eleven months. Each book focuses on the issues a grieving person is likely to be going through at that point in his or her grief.
Grieving people typically receive a lot of care and support in the first few weeks immediately following the death and funeral. After that the care and support can taper off dramatically--often right as the painful reality of the loss is sinking in. Sending the books at the four carefully chosen intervals provides ongoing care throughout the first year. The Tracking Card (included with each set) makes it easy to know and remember when to send each book.
Although a grieving person could indeed benefit from receiving all four books at the same time, giving the books individually at the selected intervals (three weeks, three months, six months, and eleven months after the loss) provides multiple contacts that the grieving person will appreciate deeply. Each book will arrive at a critical time, helping the person to cope with issues and feelings that he or she is likely to be experiencing at that time. As one pastor pointed out, the cost of sending the books individually is about the same as sending four greeting cards--and much more effective.
Absolutely not. In fact, the fourth book (sent at 11 months) has a chapter that discusses what the person is likely to be experiencing during the second year. The book emphasizes that, although everyone is different, most people will grieve for at least two to three years after losing someone significant in their lives.
Dr. Haugk--a pastor and clinical psychologist--is known for his ability to weave together sound psychological principles with Biblical truths. These books provide solid information about grief to help the grieving person understand what he or she is experiencing, along with the strong hope that our Christian faith offers.
The theology in the books is presented in a very caring, nonthreatening way so that people can work through any faith struggles they might be experiencing (which are common during grief). The books are written in a warm, personal style, with short chapters and many stories and examples to illustrate key points. Interspersed throughout the books are Scripture passages, poems, and quotes that awaken the mind and touch the heart.
That's precisely why we've chosen this format for the books. To begin with, the books are short--44 pages each. And since the books are given at different intervals, the person receives only one short book at a time. Most chapters are just two or three pages long with simple wording, subheadings, and an easy-to-read layout. The books were designed so that a person could read a chapter at a time, skip around from chapter to chapter, or read each book cover-to-cover--whatever he or she feels like at the time. Grieving people are encouraged to keep each book handy so they can refer back to it when they are ready.
Journeying through Grief focuses on the grief someone experiences after the death of a loved one. The books help the grieving person understand that the various circumstances surrounding the loss--whether the loss was sudden or anticipated, what his or her relationship was to the one who died, how the person died, and many other factors--will affect the grief that he or she experiences. Virtually anyone who has lost a loved one will find comfort, understanding, and hope in these pages.
As we developed these books, we had more than one hundred people--people who were grieving, pastors, lay caregivers, and grief professionals--review them and provide feedback. Overwhelmingly they felt that practically anyone who is grieving (and anyone who cares for those who are grieving) would benefit from reading these books. If you're unsure, read the books yourself before you send them. (Better yet, order two sets: one for you and one for the other person.) It will give you the confidence that these books are right for your friend--and it will help you better understand how you can care for and support him or her.
We developed Journeying through Grief with adults in mind, so the examples focus on the feelings and issues adults are likely to be experiencing in their grief. That said, the writing style is very simple, conversational, and caring, so a high school-aged youth--and likely even a middle school-aged youth--could easily understand the books and benefit from reading them. However, while the books do talk about the grief experienced after the death of a child, the books don't explore the specific issues children may encounter during grief.
This is up to you. Delivering them in person adds a stronger element of care, but for many people and for different reasons, hand-delivering the books may be impractical or even impossible. That's why we've included four mailing envelopes--to make it as easy as possible to get these books into the hands of grieving people at the right times. Whether you personally hand each book to grieving people or mail them, giving them these books will make a big difference in their grief.
The Giver's Guide, a separate resource you can order (and you only need one of them), provides sample letters you can personalize as a cover letter to include with each book. These letters will also give you ideas for what to say if you're hand-delivering the books. Whether you're hand-delivering the books or sending them by mail, remember that you really don't need to say a whole lot. Simply let the person know that you care and that you feel these books would be helpful in his or her grief. That action alone is worth thousands of spoken words.
For more than thirty years, Stephen Ministries has been helping thousands of congregations train their members to minister to people experiencing grief. During the last 15 years, we've also conducted more than a thousand half-day Stephen Ministry Workshops, a main component of which has been a presentation on grief. During that time, we've talked with and learned a lot from grieving people. All of that provides the framework for these books. In addition, during the development of these books, Dr. Haugk's research team interviewed more than 100 grieving people and grief caregivers, and surveyed more than 2,000 people about their grief experiences. In writing these books, Dr. Haugk drew on that foundation, his own professional training and knowledge, and his own grief experience after losing his wife Joan to ovarian cancer in 2002.
This isn't likely but if by chance it did happen, the grieving person would probably feel even more cared for--two friends cared enough to send these books. The grieving person could also put the extra copy to good use, passing it along to another grieving family member. So receiving an extra set would be a positive rather than a negative. Likewise, even if the cover letters with the books were similar (they wouldn't be identical since each giver would personalize the letters in his or her own way), the recipient will so appreciate receiving the books that he or she probably wouldn't even notice any similarities in the letters.
For pastors or congregations, these books are a great way to offer repeated caring touches to grieving members throughout the first year. They're also a powerful way to reach out and minister to nonmembers--visitors to the congregation, friends of congregation members, or people in the surrounding neighborhoods--during their time of grief.
Individuals can use these books to care for friends, neighbors, coworkers, colleagues, relatives, and others they know who are grieving. Quite often people want to care for someone who has lost a loved one but aren't quite sure what to say or do. Journeying through Grief gives them a practical, effective, and easy way to extend care again and again during that first difficult year.
Two Journeying through Grief resources make it easy to send the right books at the right time. The Tracking Card, included with each set of books, helps you know just when to send each book. And the Giver's Guide, an additional resource you can order (and you'd only need one), provides ideas for setting up a simple filing and reminder system to help you keep track of when to send the books to many different people at many different times. Even if the pastor is sending the books, a secretary or volunteer could easily track when to send each book and get the books and letters ready for the pastor to mail.