CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Mary Ann Morgan

Toronto, TVOntario, 1989.69pp, paper, $8.00
ISBN 0-88944-149-9. CIP

Grades 10 and up/ Ages 15 and up
Reviewed by Joan McGrath.

Volume 19 Number 2
1991 March

Home Studies Viewer's Guide, Essays and Resources List for Ontario available from TVOntario Customer Service, Box 200, Station Q, Toronto, Ontario M4T2T1, $29.00. Schools, libraries and educational institutions can purchase each of the items sepa­rately: Viewer's Guide, $8.00; Essays, $19.95; Resources List for Ontario, $2.00.

Saying goodbye - to a child, a spouse, a parent, a friend - is the most painful of all of life's traumas. Our society tends to tuck the unwelcome fact of death tidily out of sight, in retirement homes, hospital beds and funeral homes; unfamiliarity leaves us less well prepared than earlier generations to deal with death. We do it reluctantly, and very often, badly.

Death is the necessary end of every life, yet those who suffer the loss of a loved one are left with grief, anger, helplessness and despair. People mourn differently, and the process takes its own time, which differs between individuals. Those who would be of assistance to mourners may profit by direction, in order to be truly helpful, rather than inadvertently adding to the misery of the bereaved with ill-timed or badly expressed condolences.

Five excellent video presentations portray five scenarios: the death of an infant, of a young husband killed in an accident, of a much-loved wife, of a student suicide, and of a terminally ill wife and mother facing the end with courage and resignation.

Some of the particular problems of grief are demonstrated: the rage at the death of a child, whose death seems against nature; the special difficulties of men, socialized in this culture to be strong and to conceal emotion, of whom so much is demanded at a time when they themselves need consolation; the unresolved rage at the betrayal of suicide; the refusal to face an ending when the time has come to do so; the too-frequent neglect of the needs of those other, almost invisible mourners - young children, fellow students and non-family members.

These five dramas offer an opportu­nity to the viewer to think through the complex of emotions surrounding the event and to realize the necessity of the various stages of grief that must, in some way, be worked through by all mourners. All five dramas are per­formed by talented, often familiar professionals and are absorbing in themselves as well as in their function as teaching tools. Only the brief pause which invites the viewer to stop the tapes and discuss the action at various critical moments distinguishes these tapes from their television appearances.

Accompanying the set of five tapes is a collection of essays on the topic, in which the writers share their own hard-won understanding of the grieving process. It includes an extensive bibliography on death, dying, grief, suicide, care-giving, etc. A viewer's guide assists the viewer or instructor in putting the material to optimum use. The Resources List for Ontario provides information regarding self-help peer groups and general counselling services.

Intended for the use of the bereaved, their families, friends and colleagues, as well as educators and professionals. Of special interest to Tragic Events Teams in boards of education.

Joan McGrath, Toronto Board of Education, Toronto, Ont.
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