Augsburg Fortress

A Grief Received: What to Do When Loss Leaves You Empty Handed

A Grief Received: What to Do When Loss Leaves You Empty Handed

Discover hope, comfort, transformation--the gifts given in grief

Too often, we think of loss like we might a broken bone. We leave the bone alone, protect it from bumps, and wait. We think eventually everything will go back to normal, the same as it always was. But losing a loved one is nothing like a broken arm. Loss is amputation, and the path to healing doesn't lead back to the same, only ahead to the different. A Grief Received offers a personal, authentic, and practical approach to weathering grief with hope. Writing with deep insight, JL Gerhardt draws on the loss of her younger brother when she was twenty-one, other personal experiences of grief, and her work in ministry alongside her husband, a minister and chaplain. Through nine practices grieving people can adopt to position themselves to receive the gifts of grief, Gerhardt provides touchstones readers will recognize and a path to personal transformation. Each chapter includes personal reflection questions and suggested resources. Gerhardt assumes the role of friend, partner, and speaker of sometimes-inconvenient but always-helpful truths. Readers will walk away comforted, directed, and inspired to seek God and God's shaping in their grief.


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  • Publisher Fortress Press
  • Format Paperback
  • ISBN 9781506431765
  • eBook ISBN 9781506434209
  • Age/Grade Range Adult
  • Dimensions 9 x 9
  • Pages 160
  • Publication Date February 1, 2019


"How do you pick up and live when you are drowning in grief? Will there ever be joy again? And what happens to faith? How do you respond to all those well-meaning friends and family who say just the wrong thing? How can you possibly respond when every fiber of your being is so raw and broken? JL Gerhardt gently but confidently guides us through all of these uncomfortable questions in A Grief Received. She understands the true meaning of grief. Brokenness. Numbness. Anger. Loss. She even questions the very God she has given her life to. Gerhardt shares this journey with us in a compassionate style that assures the reader that grief is a very intimate acquaintance. But she doesn't leave us wallowing in our despair. She shows us practical, accessible answers and how to get up and take those first steps toward hope and living. Each chapter has reflection and discussion questions that work well on a personal level, as well as for groups. She gives readers hope that life can go on and can be full of joy again. A Grief Received is certainly an anchor in the sea of grief, and Gerhardt is a worthy and kind captain on the journey."

Sherry Thompson, MS, NCC, Med, Counselor with the Association of Behavioral Counselors

"Like Gerhardt, I have in times of grief reached for humor as body armor that shields me from the painful edges of the human experience. Laughter and other forms of running from reality help in the moment, but if you run long enough, they leave you starving for something, anything substantial. For us runners, Gerhardt guides us to see the good news of lament so we can learn to put out armor down long enough to receive the life-sustaining hope that becomes our daily bread."

Luke Norworthy, Preacher, author, and host of the popular podcast Newsworthy and Norsworthy

Table of Contents

Chapter 1 Changing Shape
Chapter 2 Fighting for Life
Chapter 3 Practicing Hope
Chapter 4 On Exploding Safely: The Gift of Lament
Chapter 5 Welcoming Help: The Gift of Belonging
Chapter 6 Living in the Present: The Gift of Daily Bread
Chapter 7 Seeing Clearly: The Gifts of Mortality and Immortality
Chapter 8 Remembering: The Gift of Inspiration
Chapter 9 Reaching Out: The Gift of Comfort
Chapter 10 Looking for Light: The Gift of Gratitude
Chapter 11 Rebuilding: The Gift of a New Normal
Chapter 12 Cultivating Joy: The Gift of Celebration

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