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 Journeying through Grief Frequently Asked Questions

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What is Journeying through Grief?

When a friend or family member loses a loved one, we want to show that we care. But we don’t always know what to say or do. Journeying through Grief is a set of four short books that provide a practical, effective, comforting way to reach out in love and support to someone during the first year after a loss.

What’s in the books?

Journeying through Grief helps grieving people understand their thoughts and feelings and provides them with a clear message of Christian hope. The author—pastor and clinical psychologist Dr. Kenneth Haugk—combines sound psychological principles and biblical truths to provide the care that grieving people need at the time when they need it most.

The books are written in a warm, personal style, with short chapters and frequent stories to illustrate key points. Encouraging Scripture passages, poems, and quotes appear throughout, connecting with what the reader is likely to be feeling at that point in grief. Issues of faith are presented in a caring, nonthreatening way, allowing room for the spiritual struggles and questions that grieving people may encounter.

Take a closer look at each of the four books—

Why are there four books?

A person typically receives a great deal of attention and care in the first few weeks after a loss. But as weeks turn to months, that support often fades away, leaving the grieving person feeling alone and forgotten. By giving the person four separate books throughout the difficult first year, you can reach out with care at four crucial points in the grief journey, providing ongoing support and reminding the person that he or she is not alone.

What happens after the first year?

Every grieving person’s journey is different, but for most people, the journey lasts well beyond a single year. To prepare the reader for the road ahead, the fourth book discusses what the person is likely to experience during the second year of grief.

Who uses these books?

We’ve heard from people who have used Journeying through Grief successfully in many different settings.

  • Pastors and congregations use Journeying through Grief to care for members and nonmembers alike during times of grief.

  • Hospitals, funeral homes, hospices, colleges, and other organizations use Journeying through Grief to care for the people they serve.

  • Individuals use Journeying through Grief to care for family members, friends, neighbors, coworkers, colleagues, clients, and others who are grieving. Some of them have established their own personal grief ministry with these books at the heart of it.

Can I personally send these books to a grieving friend, or are they just for churches?

These books can be a powerful way for you to personally offer sustained comfort and compassion to a relative, friend, neighbor, or coworker who is grieving. We receive many letters from people who set up their own personal grief ministry and give Journeying through Grief as individuals rather than for their church or other organization. One wrote, “I’ve always wanted to send more than a sympathy card and flowers. Now I have something that will embrace a grieving person with my love over and over again.”

Do I have to give the books at four separate times?

While all four Journeying through Grief books can be given together, they’re more helpful when a grieving person receives them at the suggested times: three weeks, three months, six months, and eleven months after the loss. Each book carries a timely message and focuses on what a grieving person is likely to be experiencing at that particular point—recipients frequently say, “That book came at just the right time!” In addition, sending the books separately over the course of a year reminds the person that you remember the loss and that your care continues.

Should I deliver the books in person or mail them?

Most of the time people mail the books, so every set of Journeying through Grief includes four mailing envelopes. Delivering one or all of the books yourself can be a good way to personalize the gift and have a direct caring contact with the recipient. Whether they are delivered by mail or in person, these books will be a source of comfort.

When I give the books, what can I say or write to the grieving person?

The Journeying through Grief Giver’s Guide provides sample cover letters that you can personalize and include with each book. If you are delivering the books in person, these letters can also give you ideas for what to say to the grieving person. In any case, you don’t have to say much—simply let the person know that you care and that you believe these books will help.

How do I keep track of when to send each book?

Every set of Journeying through Grief comes with a Tracking Card that helps you plan the dates that you will send each book. People often tell us that the Tracking Card makes it simple to keep track of when to send the books.

For those who are sending books to more than one person, the Journeying through Grief Giver’s Guide provides a simple system for tracking multiple recipients. Whether you’re caring for family and friends or sending dozens of books through your congregation to a broad community, you’ll find that it’s easy to track when to send each book to each person.

Will a grieving person feel like reading these books?

Because people often have difficulty concentrating during a time of grief, Dr. Haugk has made Journeying through Grief as easy as possible to read. The individual books are short (44 pages), and most chapters are only two or three pages long. The layout is clear and inviting, the writing simple and direct. And because grieving people receive the books gradually over the course of the year, they have plenty of time to read each one at their own convenience and pace. We regularly hear from people who have found the books easy to read even in the midst of their grief.

Can the books be used for any type of loss, not just a death?

People occasionally tell us that they use Journeying through Grief to minister to people experiencing other types of loss, such as divorce or the onset of a disability—but the books themselves, including the anecdotes, quotes, and poems, focus specifically on the grief someone experiences after the death of a loved one.

The books describe how the circumstances surrounding a loss shape the grief experience—factors such as the nature of the relationship, how the loved one died, and whether the death was sudden or anticipated. Whatever the particular circumstances, anyone who has lost someone will find comfort and hope in these pages.

Will the books be right for the person I know?

Since the publication of Journeying through Grief, many people have written Dr. Haugk to tell him how much the books have helped them. Almost every day we hear from people who have found the books extremely helpful, easy to read, and right on target.

See some examples of what people have said about Journeying through Grief.

If you’re unsure about sending the books, it can be helpful to read them for yourself first. Once you’ve read Journeying through Grief, you will be able to make an informed, confident decision, and you’ll better understand how you can care for the grieving person.

Are the books appropriate for non-Christians?

The Journeying through Grief books are written from a Christian perspective. However, the experiences and emotions described in these four books are universal, and anyone who is grieving will likely find comfort and reassurance in them.

We regularly hear from non-Christians who appreciated receiving the books. They’ve told us how the books addressed their first-year thoughts and feelings with understanding and compassion. One noted, “I received these books from a Christian friend. It was like having her sit with me every time I read from them.”

Are the books appropriate for children and young adults?

Journeying through Grief was written with an adult reader in mind, and the examples it uses focus on the feelings and issues adults are likely to experience in their grief. However, the reading level and the essential message of the books are appropriate for people of middle-school age and older. We occasionally get letters from children as young as ten who’ve read the books and found them helpful.

I know someone who lost a loved one over a year ago. Would it be helpful to send these four books now?

Yes. Many churches and individuals report that they have given or sent Journeying through Grief to people one or more years after the loss occurred. In this situation, they typically give or send all four books at the same time. Those who received the books have appreciated the thoughtfulness of the sender and have frequently commented how these books helped them with aspects of their grief that they had dealt with only superficially or not at all.