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Shortly before her death in 2004, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross and David Kessler, her collaborator, completed the manuscript for this, her final book. On Grief and Grieving is a fitting completion to her work. Thirty-six years and sixteen books ago, Kubler-Ross’s groundbreaking On Death and Dying changed the way we talk about the end of life. Now On Grief and Grieving will profoundly influence the way we experience the process of grief.
On Death and Dying began as a theoretical book, an interdisciplinary study of our fear of death and our inevitable acceptance of it. It introduced the world to the now-famous five stages: denial, anger, bargaining, depression, and acceptance. On Grief and Grieving applies these stages to the process of grieving and weaves together theory, inspiration, and practical advice, all based on Kubler-Ross’s and Kessler’s professional and personal experiences, and is filled with brief, topic-driven stories.
It includes sections on sadness, hauntings, dreams, coping, children, healing, isolation, and even the subject of sex during grief. I know death is close, Kubler-Ross says at the end of the book, but not quite yet. I lie here like so many people over the years, in a bed surrounded by flowers and looking out a big window….I now know that the purpose of my life is more than these stages….It is not just about the life lost but also the life lived.
In one of their final writing sessions, Kubler-Ross told Kessler, The last nine years have taught me patience, and the weaker and more bed-bound I become, the more I’m learning about receiving love. On Grief and Grieving is Elisabeth Kubler-Ross’s final legacy, one that brings her life’s work profoundly full circle.