Borrowed Narratives : Using Biographical and Historical Grief Narratives With the Bereaving book cover
1st Edition

Borrowed Narratives
Using Biographical and Historical Grief Narratives With the Bereaving

ISBN 9781138110557
Published May 24, 2017 by Routledge
299 Pages

USD $52.95

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Book Description

What do Dexter King, Condoleeza Rice, Mackenzie King, Corazon Aquino, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bill Cosby, Tony Dungy, Theodore Roosevelt, George H. W. and Barbara Bush, Caroline Kennedy, Arthur Ashe, Lady Bird Johnson, Colin Powell and C. S. Lewis have in common? They all have significant grief experiences that have shaped their lives in dramatic ways, stories that have also shaped our lives.

Grieving individuals, through "borrowing narratives," look for inspiration in biographic, historical and memoir accounts of political and religious leaders, celebrities, sports figures, and cultural icons. In a time of diminishing trust in heroes and "sainted leaders", who will speak to us from their grief? In a diverse society grief counselors and educators need to identify and "mine" the experienced grief(s) of historical personalities for resources for reflection and meaning-making. This book will help readers:

  • find, "read," evaluate, extract, and adapt historical/biographical materials
  • create bio-narrative resources for use in grief counseling and grief education
  • explore the wide diversity of experienced grief in biographical narratives
  • identify ways to "harness" grief narratives for personal reflection.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Borrowing Stories: First Person Singular. Part I: Borrowing as a Process. Why Borrow Narratives? Mining Borrowed Narratives. Constructing a Grief Grid. Chaining Borrowed Narratives by Topic or Commonality. Diversifying Borrowed Narratives. Extracting Borrowable Narratives From Contemporary Memoirs. Using Borrowed Narratives. Borrowing Narratives for the Loss of Animal Companions. Part II: Sample Borrowed Narratives. A Griever Named Woodrow. A Griever Named Jackie. A Griever Named Cleve. Grievers Named King. Part III: Beginning the Borrowing. Conclusion. Annotated Bibliography of Contemporary Memoirs.

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Harold Ivan Smith, DMin, FT, is a speaker, writer, and consultant with Harold Ivan Smith and Associates in Kansas City, Missouri. He is on the teaching faculty of the American Academy of Bereavement/CMI and runs seminars and workshops at St. Luke’s Hospital in Kansas City. In 2009 he received the Distinguished Service Award from the Association for Death Education Counseling. His area of research is the grief of US presidents and first ladies.


"One part treasure trove of tellable tales, one part practical primer on the discovery of bereavement biographies, Borrowed Narratives delivers. In his own inimitable voice, as mesmerizing in its authenticity as his garrulous grandfathers', Harold Ivan Smith consolidates his rightful role as thanatology's own steward of stories and opens their richness to every clinician and client seeking inspiration and insight in the wake of loss."

—Robert A. Neimeyer, PhD, editor of Techniques of Grief Therapy: Creative Practices for Counseling the Bereaved and coeditor of Grief and Bereavement in Contemporary Society: Bridging Research and Practice

"‘Hearing the story’ is a skill at which bereavement counselors are well-practiced. This book calls on us to learn to retell stories—of those famous and not-so-famous individuals whose experiences with grief can inspire and instruct. In Borrowed Narratives, Harold Ivan Smith is at his best—a master storyteller who uses those stories to comfort, teach and guide. But this book is more, because here Smith unlocks his proven process for finding and using the stories that make up ‘borrowed narratives.’"

—William G. Hoy, DMin, FT, Marian University, graduate program in grief and bereavement

"Harold Ivan Smith, a younger Paul Harvey (The Rest of the Story), not only shares intimate and life-impacting stories in this book—he also shows us as professionals (whether therapists or educators) how to make the most of these borrowed narratives in our work with grieving people. And, as he continues to remind us, wisdom does come from exploring the dark places within."

—Ben Wolfe, LICSW, FT, program manager/grief counselor at St. Mary’s Grief Support Center and past president of the Association for Death Education and Counseling 

"Borrowed Narratives is a great gift: a practical guide to finding, borrowing, organizing, and using historical narratives in our work with bereaving individuals and families. A true ‘thanobiographer’ and a seasoned storyteller, Harold Ivan Smith demonstrates how grief narratives of historical figures can be used to broaden the perspective of helping professionals and to effectively help the bereaving along the road to ‘wrapping’ their own pain in words, sentences, and stories."

—Janet S. McCord, PhD, FT, chair of the Edwin S. Shneidman Department of Thanatology at Marian University