Book Review – On Grief And Grieving By Elisabeth Kübler-Ross And David Kessler

January 4, 2011 at 2:36 pm | Posted in grief/loss | Leave a comment
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This book about grief is one of my favourites and it is one of the most thorough coverage on this topic. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross has helped many people find the meaning of grief through her introduction of the five stages of loss.


Understanding the Grieving Process

Basically, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross demystifies the process of grieving and helps people cope with themselves going through grief or with people they know, who have lost someone. According to her there are five stages of loss: denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance, which she explains in detail.

More in detail

Shortly before her death in 2004, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross and David Kessler, her collaborator, completed the manuscript for this book. On Grief and Grieving is her final book and a fitting completion to her work.

The first chapter of the book is a detailed description and explanation of the five stages of grief, each part containing stories to exemplify what it would look like in people’s lives. Even just reading this part brings relief to people struggling to understand what they are going through.

The next two chapters cover the inner an outer world of grief, covering various topics of interest like: your loss, tears, dreams, regrets, roles, the story, resentment, isolation, punishment, afterlife, anniversaries, sex, your body and your health, just to name a few.

The chapter following is dedicated to special circumstances like children, multiple losses, disasters, suicide, Alzheimer disease and sudden death. If you have suffered a loss in these areas please read the specific part to give you more insight into your story.

The chapters towards the end of the book include the changing face of grief and the authors’ personal stories of their own grief.

On Grief and Grieving has profoundly influenced the way we experience the process of grief.

About the author

Elisabeth Kübler-Ross was a Swiss-born psychiatrist, who lived between 1926 and 2004. She pioneered near-death studies and wrote seventeen books over a thirty-six years period. Her groundbreaking On Death and Dying changed the way we talked about the end of life.

After studying medicine, to the dismay of her father, she later moved to the States and continues her studies in New York. She worked as a psychiatric resident where she became interested in patients who were dying, encouraging the hospice care movement, and believing that euthanasia prevents people from competing their ‘unfinished business’.

In her later life she suffered a series of strokes in 1995, which left her partially paralyzed on her left side. In one of their final writing sessions, Kübler-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.”


This is must to read for anyone working or dealing with people suffering the loss of a loved one, experiencing grief themselves or dealing with terminal illness, where anticipatory grief comes into play. Personally in my work I refer to this book often when dealing with clients.

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