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A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss

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An expanded edition of this classic book on grief and loss with a new preface and epilogue. Loss came suddenly for Jerry Sittser. In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we An expanded edition of this classic book on grief and loss with a new preface and epilogue. Loss came suddenly for Jerry Sittser. In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we choose, know as well the grace that transforms it. A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of sorrow, whether due to illness, divorce, or the loss of someone we love. The circumstances are not important; what we do with those circumstances is. In coming to the end of ourselves, we can come to the beginning of a new life one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings.


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An expanded edition of this classic book on grief and loss with a new preface and epilogue. Loss came suddenly for Jerry Sittser. In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we An expanded edition of this classic book on grief and loss with a new preface and epilogue. Loss came suddenly for Jerry Sittser. In an instant, a tragic car accident claimed three generations of his family: his mother, his wife, and his young daughter. While most of us will not experience such a catastrophic loss in our lifetime, all of us will taste it. And we can, if we choose, know as well the grace that transforms it. A Grace Disguised plumbs the depths of sorrow, whether due to illness, divorce, or the loss of someone we love. The circumstances are not important; what we do with those circumstances is. In coming to the end of ourselves, we can come to the beginning of a new life one marked by spiritual depth, joy, compassion, and a deeper appreciation of simple blessings.

30 review for A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows through Loss

  1. 4 out of 5

    Andrew

    I was given this book to read over ago after my son died. A friend in my church loaned it to me, and for the longest time I wasn't able to read it. It's not that I didn't want to: I recognized quickly how I healed and learned through reading books about grief and hearing stories of how others have mourned. But reading about grief is exhausting: not only do you begin to wear and experience the grief of the author, you also are forced to revisit the grief that you carry. And so reading about grief I was given this book to read over ago after my son died. A friend in my church loaned it to me, and for the longest time I wasn't able to read it. It's not that I didn't want to: I recognized quickly how I healed and learned through reading books about grief and hearing stories of how others have mourned. But reading about grief is exhausting: not only do you begin to wear and experience the grief of the author, you also are forced to revisit the grief that you carry. And so reading about grief - for me - becomes a delicate balance. The desire to heal and cope must be greater than the fear of re-living the pain. The vulnerability I need to expose my soul and heart and mind must be stronger than my propensity to not cry and mourn. This book is a Christian grief classic. It should be mandatory reading for anyone who has grieves the (sudden) death of a loved one and for anyone who counsels those who mourn. It's an autobiography of searing pain that began one horrible night and has stretched on for years. The only qualifications Gerald Sittser needs is his painful loss of family in a sudden accident. In a tragic instant, he is set on a path of becoming an 'expert' on grieving and healing. To me, this author and his writings have been an extremely valuable guide and comfort on my journey of grief. His transparency, his insight, and his courage to face the tough stuff of grief provides a surreal "feels like I'm there" perspective as you travel with him through the highs and lows of his family's journey. It will be a book that I return to read again, and it will be a book that I continue to reference as I care for those who mourn. [review originally posted at http://ypinabby.blogspot.com/2011/04/...]

  2. 4 out of 5

    Kristin

    This is a great soul care book. Although his tragic story is about losing his wife, child and mother in a car accident and being left to raise three children alone, his focus is not on his story but on "What meaning can be gained from suffering, and how can we grow through suffering?" The things he learned can be applied to more than just loss due to death of a loved one. I found him to be very insightful and applicable. Here are some quotes that have stood out to me: "Die before you die. There i This is a great soul care book. Although his tragic story is about losing his wife, child and mother in a car accident and being left to raise three children alone, his focus is not on his story but on "What meaning can be gained from suffering, and how can we grow through suffering?" The things he learned can be applied to more than just loss due to death of a loved one. I found him to be very insightful and applicable. Here are some quotes that have stood out to me: "Die before you die. There is no chance after." by C.S. Lewis page 42 The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise. I discovered at that moment that I had the power to choose the direction my life would head, even if the only choice open to me, at least initially, was either to run from the loss or face it as best I could. Since I knew that darkness was inevitable and unavoidable, I decided from that point on to walk into the darkness rather than try to outrun it, to let my experience of loss take me on a journey wherever it would lead, and to allow myself to be transformed by my suffering rather than to think I could somehow avoid it. I chose to turn toward the pain, however falteringly, and to yield to the loss, though I had no idea at the time what that would mean. page 45 The decision to face the darkness, even if it led to overwhelming pain, showed me that the experience of loss itself does not have to be the defining moment of our lives. Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It is not what happens to us that matters as much as what happens in us. Darkness, it is true, had invaded my soul. But then again, so did light. Both contributed to my personal transformation..... ...although I experienced death, I also experienced life in ways that I never thought possible before - not after the darkness, as we might suppose, but in the darkness. I did not go through pain and come out the other side; instead, I lived in it and found within that pain the grace to survive and eventually grow. I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather, I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it. I learned gradually that the deeper we plunge into suffering, the deeper we can enter into a new, and different life - a life no worse than before and sometimes better. A willingness to face the loss and to enter into the darkness is the first step we must take. Like all first steps, it is probably the most difficult and takes the most time. ....We do not always have the freedom to choose the roles we must play in life, but we can choose how we are going to play the roles we have been given. page 48 (he is talking about Frankl's book, learning from Nazi prisoners) They learned that tragedy can increase the soul's capacity for darkness and light, for pleasure as well as for pain, for hope as well as for dejection. The soul contains a capacity to know and love God, to become virtuous, to learn truth, and to live by moral conviction. The soul is elastic, like a balloon. It can grow larger through suffering. Loss can enlarge its capacity for anger, depression, despair, and anguish, all natural and legitimate emotions whenever we experience loss. Once enlarged, the soul is also capable of experiencing greater joy, strength, peace, and love. What we consider opposites - east and west, night and light, sorrow and joy, weakness and strength, anger and love, despair and hope, death and life - are no more mutually exclusive than winter and sunlight. The soul has the capacity to experience these opposites, even at the same time. page 49 It is therefore not true that we become less through loss - unless we allow the loss to make us less, grinding our soul down until there is nothing left but an external self entirely under the control of circumstances. Loss can also make us more. In the darkness we can still find the light. In death we can also find life. It depends on the choices we make. Though these choices are difficult and rarely made in haste or with ease, we can nevertheless make them. Only when we choose to pay attention to our soul will we learn how much more there is to life than the external world around us, however wonderful or horrible that world is. We experience the ambivalence of living simultaneously in the night and in the light. page 52 I knew that running from the darkness would only lead to greater darkness later on. I also knew that my soul had the capacity to grow - to absorb evil and good, to die and live again, to suffer abandonment and find God. In choosing to face the night, I took my first steps toward the sunrise. page 56 Denial puts off what should be faced. People in denial refuse to see loss for what it is, something terrible that cannot be reversed. They dodge pain rather than confront it. But their unwillingness to face pain comes at a price. Ultimately it diminishes the capacity of their soul to grow bigger in response to pain. They make the same mistake as patients who, following major surgery, refuse to get out of bed and put damaged muscles back to work. They pretend nothing is wrong and tell everyone that they are feeling wonderful. But denial of their problem causes muscles to atrophy until they cannot get out of bed at all. In the end denial leads to a greater loss. page 142-143 But forgiveness is costly. Forgiving people must give up the right to get even, a right that is not so easy to relinquish. They must show mercy when their human sensibilities tell them to punish. Not that a desire for justice is wrong. A person can both forgive and strive for justice. Wrong that is forgiven is still wrong done and must be punished. Mercy does not abrogate justice; it transcends it. However difficult, forgiveness in the end brings freedom to the one who gives it. Forgiving people let God run the universe. They let God punish wrongdoers as he wills, and they let God show mercy as he wills too. page 145 Though forgiveness may not have an ending, it has a beginning. It begins when victims identify the wrong done to them and feel the anger that naturally rises in the soul. They realize that what happened to them was inexcusable and should not have happened. Before victims can show mercy, in other words, they must claim justice. Before they can forgive, they must accuse. Anything short of holding wrongdoers accountable for their actions is an insult to the wrongdoers themselves. It reduces them to something less than human, for one of the primary characteristics of being human is knowing what constitutes right and wrong and what it means to be responsible, whether one chooses to be or not. ....To dismiss wrong done because it was done out of ignorance or sickness or a bad background is to violate the wrongdoer's humanity. The starting point of forgiveness, then, is a recognition that the person or persons who did the wrong were in fact wrong. They knew better and could have - even should have - done otherwise. page 146 Forgiveness does not mean forgetting. Not only is forgetting impossible for most people, considering the enormity of suffering; it is also unhealthy. Our memory of the past is not neutral. It can poison us or heal us, depending upon how we remember it. Remembering the wrong done can make us a prisoner to pain and hatred, or it can make us the recipient of the grace, love, and healing power of God. The experience of loss does not have to leave us with the memory of a painful event that stands alone, like a towering monument that dominates the landscape of our lives. Loss can also leave us with the memory of a wonderful story. It can function as a catalyst that pushes us in a new direction, like a closed road that forces us to turn around and find another way to our destinaion. Who knows what we will discover and see along the way? pages 176-177 When people suffering loss do find community, it comes as a result of conscious choices they and other people make. First of all, it requires a choice on the part of those who want to provide community for suffering friends. They must be willing to be changed by someone else's loss, though they might not have been directly affected by it. Good comfort requires empathy, forces adjustments, and sometimes mandates huge sacrifices. Comforters must be prepared to let the pain of another become their own and so let it transform them. They will never be the same after that decision. Their own world will be permanently altered by the presence of one who suffers. It will bring an end to detachment, control, and convenience. It will prevent them from ever thinking again that the world is a safe place full of nice people, positive experiences, and favorable circumstances. page 182 I realized soon after the accident that I had another significant responsibility to fulfill too, and that concerned my role in the community as an interpreter of my experience. Friends wanted to listen and empathize; but they also wanted to learn, to reflect on the universal nature of suffering, and to make meaning for their own lives. So we became a reflective community together. I have told these friends many times how thankful I am for their sympathetic concern, and they have told me how grateful they are for the opportunity to find meaning for their lives in my experience of suffering. They were thus willing to be changed; I was willing to exercise responsibility. They never felt manipulated and used; I never felt patronized and pressured. The result was a mutuality in our relationships. All of us contributed, and all of us gained. The result was love. We learned to love more deeply. That was especially, though not exclusively, true for me. I hesitated at first to risk loving again. There was a protective reflex in me that made me want to turn my back on everyone, even my own family. ....Eventually I had to decide, however, to become a contributing member of the community once again, not only willing to receive but also to give love. page 183 The risk of further loss, therefore, poses a dilemma. The problem of choosing to love again is that the choice to love means living under the constant threat of further loss. But the problem of choosing not to love is that the choice to turn from love means imperiling the life of the soul, for the soul thrives in an environment of love. Soul-full people love; soul-less people do not. If people want thteir souls to grow through loss, whatever the loss is, they must eventually decide to love even more deeply than they did before. They must respond to the loss by embracing love with renewed energy and commitment. page 195 Heritage has always been important to me...Much of who I am is a product of the heritage given me at my birth. My story is part of a much larger story that I did not choose. I was assigned a role for which I did not audition. Yet I have the power to choose how I will live out that story and play that role. I want to live my story well and play my role with as much integrity and joy as I can. page 200 The supreme challenge to anyone facing catastrophic loss involves facing the darkness of the loss on the one hand, and learning to live with renewed vitality and gratitude on the other. This challenge is met when we learn to take the loss into ourselves and to be enlarged by it, so that our capacity to live life well and to know God intimately increases. To escape the loss is far less healthy - and far less realistic, considering how devastating loss can be - than to grow from it. Loss can diminish us, but it can also expand us. It depends, once again, on the choices we make and the grace we receive. Loss can function as a catalyst to transform us. It can lead us to God, the only One who has the desire and power to give us life. page 212 I have this sense that the story God has begun to write he will finish. That story will be good. The accident remains now, as it always has been, a horrible experience that did great damage to us and to so many others. It was and will remain a very bad chapter. But the whole of my life is becoming what appears to be a very good book.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Christina Claypool

    Today, is the 35th anniversary of a great loss in my life, so it seems fitting I finished this book today. After all, there's something about the anniversary of loss, that can trigger memories and surprisingly, even intense grief after decades have passed. Truthfully, it has taken me a couple years to read Gerald Sittser's book, "A Grace Disguised." I picked it up two years ago after losing a beloved, young relative. At that time, I was in too much pain myself to read about the grief that Sittse Today, is the 35th anniversary of a great loss in my life, so it seems fitting I finished this book today. After all, there's something about the anniversary of loss, that can trigger memories and surprisingly, even intense grief after decades have passed. Truthfully, it has taken me a couple years to read Gerald Sittser's book, "A Grace Disguised." I picked it up two years ago after losing a beloved, young relative. At that time, I was in too much pain myself to read about the grief that Sittser experienced by losing his wife, mother, and young daughter, all in the same tragic accident. I am very glad I came back to the book and finished it. As much as an individual wants to run from their losses in life, they can't. The author clearly defines, whether the loss is losing a loved one, a career opportunity, a failed relationship, a financial setback, or the loss of physical vitality, one must walk through the journey of grief to get to the other side. Sittser is truly a reluctant expert on this topic having lived through unimaginable tragedy. Still, the author leaves us with hope for the future. Not, that we will "get over" the loss, but rather, we can grow through it to arrive on the other side as he suggests. One of my favorite quotes from the book, is from the writings of a Puritan after the death of a loved one, "Now life will be a little less sweet, death a little less bitter" I would give this book more than 5 stars if I could. It was quite helpful emotionally and spiritually comforting.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Shaun

    Having lost our son Jason this past fall in a tragic and puzzling auto accident, we have been overwhelmed with love and concern for our family. We've had close friends and family support us and want to be closer, we've had neighbors who we don't even know bring over food and condolences, my faith and understanding of God's plan for us here on Earth has been strengthened. I still miss Jason tremendously and I always will, but the book "A Grace Disguised" has been an amazing book which has given m Having lost our son Jason this past fall in a tragic and puzzling auto accident, we have been overwhelmed with love and concern for our family. We've had close friends and family support us and want to be closer, we've had neighbors who we don't even know bring over food and condolences, my faith and understanding of God's plan for us here on Earth has been strengthened. I still miss Jason tremendously and I always will, but the book "A Grace Disguised" has been an amazing book which has given me so much insight into how I feel today and how to continue to live on in life in the future. The author tragically lost his mother, wife and one daughter in an auto accident. They were hit by a drunk driver. The father (author) and his other three children survived. This book gives tremendous insight into loss in general and how to cope with it and how to continue the daily challenges of life. I will cherish what I learned and will likely reread this book multiple times in the future. This is an excellent book for anyone to read, for we will all experience loss in some form throughout our mortal life. The author teaches how the sould grows through loss and I feel I will grow from the experience of having lost Jason. I feel this is a must read, a truly insightful book.

  5. 5 out of 5

    Jessica

    This book has been THE MOST helpful book I have ever read in processing the loss of our son. The author gives the most raw and honest account of his pain but also the most hopeful tone and the insights have been mind blowing. I can't imagine how difficult it was for him to write this. My copy is now heavily underlined and I've found myself sharing the content with anyone who will listen. There's no "God had a reason" or "His ways are higher than ours." He talks of hope without diminishing the gr This book has been THE MOST helpful book I have ever read in processing the loss of our son. The author gives the most raw and honest account of his pain but also the most hopeful tone and the insights have been mind blowing. I can't imagine how difficult it was for him to write this. My copy is now heavily underlined and I've found myself sharing the content with anyone who will listen. There's no "God had a reason" or "His ways are higher than ours." He talks of hope without diminishing the grief, joy without ignoring the pain, questions without disbelief and God without any shallow answers or callousness towards our sufferings Seriously, if you are a living, breathing, maintaining a body temperature of 98.6 human being then you must. Read. This. Book. Even if you've never experienced great loss, I guarantee that the loved ones in your life who have needs the perspective and understanding of someone who has read this book. I wish I could give this 10 stars. Thank you, Jerry Sittser for writing this book, ministering to my broken heart and helping me believe that my soul can grow and be enlarged in ways I never thought possible - not in spite of - but because of my loss.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Jen

    I FINALLY finished this book. It took me a year and a half to finish it. It wasn't a long read, but it is emotionally draining. I would recommend this book to anyone who has suffered loss. Loss of job, spouse, marriage, health, children, etc. One of the great aspects of this book is that Sittser doesn't quantify loss on a great scale of suffering, so this book can be universally helpful to all. Jerry Sittser was a professor at my college and I had the opportunity to take a few classes from him. I I FINALLY finished this book. It took me a year and a half to finish it. It wasn't a long read, but it is emotionally draining. I would recommend this book to anyone who has suffered loss. Loss of job, spouse, marriage, health, children, etc. One of the great aspects of this book is that Sittser doesn't quantify loss on a great scale of suffering, so this book can be universally helpful to all. Jerry Sittser was a professor at my college and I had the opportunity to take a few classes from him. I had heard about his story (he lost his mother, wife and daughter in a car accident), but didn't become interested in reading this book until a few years ago. I loved this book and hated it at the same time. It forced me to label and address some of my emotions, problems and things I just didn't want to think about.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Moulton

    Few of us are ready when tragedy strikes. It's almost like we think we're immune to it. But God doesn't think the way we do. He redeems everything. We don't know that until we are faced with something that needs redeeming. As the title of this book suggests, we really don't know what grace is until we need it. And it, along with all of other God's treasures, are disguised from us ... but revealed at the right time. Few of us are ready when tragedy strikes. It's almost like we think we're immune to it. But God doesn't think the way we do. He redeems everything. We don't know that until we are faced with something that needs redeeming. As the title of this book suggests, we really don't know what grace is until we need it. And it, along with all of other God's treasures, are disguised from us ... but revealed at the right time.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Becky Avella

    This was one of many rereads of A Grace Disguised as I'm preparing for a speaking event. I will always treasure this book. It is one of my favorite resources for healing after loss. It's been eleven years since I first read it, but this book continues to comfort and grow me. This was one of many rereads of A Grace Disguised as I'm preparing for a speaking event. I will always treasure this book. It is one of my favorite resources for healing after loss. It's been eleven years since I first read it, but this book continues to comfort and grow me.

  9. 5 out of 5

    Bethany

    I love that this book was written during the middle of Sittser's journey, not when he was through it. He even admitted in the introduction that the book was meaningful but not cathartic. What a great book for those who have experienced a tragic loss, or even—like me—those wanting to understand. I've never experienced anything like this, but this book has helped me grow in compassion, and in understanding how to be a good neighbor to one experiencing such great loss. I heard in it his honest quest I love that this book was written during the middle of Sittser's journey, not when he was through it. He even admitted in the introduction that the book was meaningful but not cathartic. What a great book for those who have experienced a tragic loss, or even—like me—those wanting to understand. I've never experienced anything like this, but this book has helped me grow in compassion, and in understanding how to be a good neighbor to one experiencing such great loss. I heard in it his honest questions, his middle-of-the-journey wanderings. I saw him wrestle with how God could be good amidst such tragic circumstances. This, for me, was the value of this book. Grief is redemptive; it reframes our ideas of why we are on this earth. The true value for me in this book is his questioning the lie we tend to believe: If I _____, God [will/should] _____. Truth is, life just isn't fair, and sometimes on this earth righteous living will be repaid with cancer, and horrendous scandal can result in a pretty nice life. Favorite portions: My sister, Diane, told me that the quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise. God spare us a life of fairness! To live in a world with grace is better by far than to live in a world of absolute fairness. A fair world may make life nice for us, but only as nice as we are. We may get what we deserve, but I wonder how much that is and whether or not we would really be satisfied. A world with grace will give us more than we deserve. It will give us life, even in our suffering. It is said of God that no one can behold his face and live. I always thought this meant that no one could see his splendor and live. A friend said perhaps it means that one could see his sorrow and live. Or perhaps his sorrow is his splendor. (Nicholas Wolterstorff) I could not help asking, "What if God—the God I have trusted for so long—does not exist?" I followed the trail of that question for a while, looking honestly at where it would lead me. Since suffering made belief in God more difficult, at least for a time, I decided to investigate the implications of unbelief. What would atheism do for me in my suffering that belief in God did not do or could not do? The farther I followed the trail of this question, the more troubled I became. [Ultimately the author has landed where I did after my deepest darkest time: I may know nothing else, but what I do know is this: God is still good.]

  10. 4 out of 5

    Corey

    This was my second time reading this book. The first time changed my life and helped me through a really hard time in my life. This second time was a much different experience. When I read it the first time, I was single. This time, I am married with children, and I now know the author personally. The lessons I take from the book are generally the same this time, but the idea of the suffering described in this book felt much more tangible and daunting after becoming a husband and father. It kept This was my second time reading this book. The first time changed my life and helped me through a really hard time in my life. This second time was a much different experience. When I read it the first time, I was single. This time, I am married with children, and I now know the author personally. The lessons I take from the book are generally the same this time, but the idea of the suffering described in this book felt much more tangible and daunting after becoming a husband and father. It kept me up nights and definitely resulted in longer hugs with my wife and children. I think this might be one of the most helpful books ever written, though I desperately wish it didn't have to be.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Heidi

    The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise. ....... A friend recommended this book years ago, as the best she's ever read on grief. I started reading it when my father-in-law died a year ago, picked it up again when my mother-in-law died less than five months later, and then again when a friend's son committed suicide in December. ....... Recovery is The quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise. ....... A friend recommended this book years ago, as the best she's ever read on grief. I started reading it when my father-in-law died a year ago, picked it up again when my mother-in-law died less than five months later, and then again when a friend's son committed suicide in December. ....... Recovery is a misleading and empty expectation. We recover from broken limbs, not amputations. Catastrophic loss by definition precludes recovery. It will transform us or destroy us, but it will never leave us the same... Sorrow never entirely leaves the soul of those who have suffered severe loss... But this depth of sorrow is the sign of a healthy soul, not a sick soul. ....... It is not a long book or an intellectually demanding book; it is, however, challenging, thought-provoking, and sometimes emotionally demanding. It took me a long time to read this book. ....... I did not get over the loss of my loved ones; rather, I absorbed the loss into my life, like soil receives decaying matter, until it became a part of who I am. Sorrow took up permanent residence in my soul and enlarged it. ....... The author shares his horrifically painful story of losing his daughter, mother and wife, all in one awful car wreck. He did not write this book as a "how to" manual, but more as a very personal story of how he processed and responded to his loss in the months and years that followed. ....... It is therefore not true that we become less through loss—unless we allow the loss to make us less, grinding our soul down until there is nothing left but an external self entirely under the control of circumstances. Loss can also make us more. In the darkness we can still find the light. In death we can also find life. ....... He addresses the experience of sudden loss and grief, the disruption to identity, forgiveness, facing God with his emotions and doubts, how community helps, the randomness of tragedy, the dehumanizing temptation to compare our losses to someone else's. ....... (On community:) They must be willing to be changed by someone's loss, though they might not have been directly affected by it. Good comfort requires empathy, forces adjustments, and sometimes mandates huge sacrifices. Comforters must be prepared to let the pain of another become their own and so let it transform them. They will never be the same after that decision. ....... He is never trite, never guarded, never preachy. I underlined many sentences, and sometimes paragraphs, in this short book, because they seemed to perfectly express the experiences of loss and grief, of faith and perseverance and hope. ....... But life here is not the end. Reality is more than we think it to be. There is another and greater reality that envelops this earthly one. Earth is not outside heaven, as the philosopher Peter Kreeft wrote; it is heaven’s workshop, heaven’s womb. ....... I cannot imagine a person who would not benefit from reading this book. I've read a number of books on grief and loss; this will most likely be the one that I recommend first to friends.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Jason Kanz

    Suffering and loss are inevitable, but I don’t know if I understood that when I was younger. My wife’s breast cancer and the trials of adoption have pressed suffering upon me in ways that I have never felt before. Shortly after Heather was diagnosed with cancer, I tried to find books of comfort, writings to help explain what was going on in my life. The Psalms took on a new richness for me, but other books varied. In the last few years, I haven’t read many books dealing with suffering or loss, Suffering and loss are inevitable, but I don’t know if I understood that when I was younger. My wife’s breast cancer and the trials of adoption have pressed suffering upon me in ways that I have never felt before. Shortly after Heather was diagnosed with cancer, I tried to find books of comfort, writings to help explain what was going on in my life. The Psalms took on a new richness for me, but other books varied. In the last few years, I haven’t read many books dealing with suffering or loss, but as I was looking over my bookshelf at home, I happened across a little book by Jerry Sittser, A Grace Disguised: How the Soul Grows Through Loss. I had previously read another of Sittser’s books and I enjoyed it, but I wasn’t prepared for this book. A Grace Disguised is, in a word, stunning. Based in his own experience of profound loss—his mother, wife, and daughter were all killed by a drunk driver—Sittser explores loss of a gut-wrenching level. When I began reading, I told my wife that with each page, I was on the verge of tears. The book opens like this: “Catastrophic loss wreaks destruction like a massive flood. It is unrelenting, unforgiving, and uncontrollable, brutally erosive to body, mind, and spirit.” The author never shied away from the many ways in which this loss affected him. Though every page carried its own value, his chapter on forgiveness is phenomenal. My master’s thesis dealt with forgiveness and oh that I had this book then. From here on out, when anyone is looking for readings about forgiveness, this will be the book I recommend. Sittser’s understanding of forgiveness, crafted not in an ivory tower, but in the fires of loss. A Grace Disguised is one of the most beautiful, painful, and engaging books I have ever read. I read a lot of books and this is a book that will get my highest endorsement. If you are someone who has experienced tragedy, loss, or suffering, I cannot recommend another book as strongly as I recommend A Grace Disguised.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Birgit

    The accident remains now, as it always has been, a horrible experience that did great damage to us and to so many others. It was and will remain a very bad chapter. But the whole of my life is becoming what appears to be a very good book. The above quote is the last section of his last paragraph of his book. For anybody who has lost a loved one I highly recommend reading this book. Later my sister, Diane, told me that the quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run The accident remains now, as it always has been, a horrible experience that did great damage to us and to so many others. It was and will remain a very bad chapter. But the whole of my life is becoming what appears to be a very good book. The above quote is the last section of his last paragraph of his book. For anybody who has lost a loved one I highly recommend reading this book. Later my sister, Diane, told me that the quickest way for anyone to reach the sun and the light of day is not to run west, chasing after the setting sun, but to head east, plunging into the darkness until one comes to the sunrise. This is another quote that I really liked from the book, don't chase the sun but go through the darkness until one comes to the sunrise. There are so many great quotes and great moments in this book, it's is a very inspiring read and for someone who is a relatively new Chritian, also very helpful. It doesn't just help with the loss of a loved one but also the loss of perhaps a job, realising that one of your children has a disability and will never have a "normal" life. My mother died 24 years ago and I really wish I would have read a book like this one but even now 24 years later it is still very helpful.

  14. 4 out of 5

    Faye

    My husband was killed 899 days ago. The whole sorted ordeal has been an intensely devastating life altering experience for me. There is never a day where I'm not heavily burdened with grief and I continually fight depression. I have felt completely lost without my soulmate. I don't know how this book came to me, but I suspect through God and my sweet angels, my son and my husband. I know it was providence at its sweetest, sent here to preform a rescue. I took well over a year to read this tenderl My husband was killed 899 days ago. The whole sorted ordeal has been an intensely devastating life altering experience for me. There is never a day where I'm not heavily burdened with grief and I continually fight depression. I have felt completely lost without my soulmate. I don't know how this book came to me, but I suspect through God and my sweet angels, my son and my husband. I know it was providence at its sweetest, sent here to preform a rescue. I took well over a year to read this tenderly written publication. I methodically poured over each page several times. The book is well written, beautifully told, draws thought on the heart and the mind, and provokes healing to the most sorrow filled soul. Grief can be an all out stubborn self consuming weight to bear. Continually packing it breaks you down. This book lightens and lifts. I recommend it to anyone suffering with loss.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Kim DeGiulio Goecke

    A very good friend gave me this book while I was dealing with my husband having just left us and this book gave me so much comfort. It showed me that though my loss is different, it is a loss nonetheless and everything I am/was going through was ok. I have already recommended this book to other friends I know could benefit from it.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Shanti Mathew

    This is the most profound, honest, raw, and hopeful book I've ever read on loss and grief (and I have read it over and over). Gary Sittser puts word to emotions that I didn't know how to talk about. This man has chosen to share his story with us-- it's a precious gift. This is the most profound, honest, raw, and hopeful book I've ever read on loss and grief (and I have read it over and over). Gary Sittser puts word to emotions that I didn't know how to talk about. This man has chosen to share his story with us-- it's a precious gift.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Allie

    I almost never finish nonfiction. After a devastating loss, I found myself drawn to any book that deals with grief and layers it with Jesus. Not a “how to” book by any means; it helps you remember you are not alone in your pain and Jesus is with you.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Joanne Heim

    Great book offering a new perspective on loss. Helpful and wise. Dr. Sittser was one of my professors in college.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Linda

    This is THE best book on grief. I've read it quite a few times. It is extremely honest about the struggle that a person of deep faith has when tragedy strikes. This is THE best book on grief. I've read it quite a few times. It is extremely honest about the struggle that a person of deep faith has when tragedy strikes.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Aimee

    A must-read for anyone facing significant loss or grief, or accompanying anyone facing these realities. In all actuality, this includes everyone because suffering, loss, and death touches us all. Jerry Stittser helped me acknowledge how my own pain and grief can be a conduit of grace if I stop holding my despair instead of handing it over to God who doesn’t cause suffering but can transform it into love and goodness in mysterious ways. I have a feeling I will be rereading this book throughout my A must-read for anyone facing significant loss or grief, or accompanying anyone facing these realities. In all actuality, this includes everyone because suffering, loss, and death touches us all. Jerry Stittser helped me acknowledge how my own pain and grief can be a conduit of grace if I stop holding my despair instead of handing it over to God who doesn’t cause suffering but can transform it into love and goodness in mysterious ways. I have a feeling I will be rereading this book throughout my life.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Paul Pompa

    This is a very special book. Sittser shares how his faith strengthened through great tragedy. He applies a biblical worldview to these tremendous tragedies, and then applies those lessons to suffering in general. His openness, his honesty, is refreshing and powerful. The books of Job and Joseph, as Sittser says, parallel to some degree his story. I have read many books on the topic of suffering from a Christian worldview, but this one is unique.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Sarah

    I finished this a couple of months ago but didn't have adequate words to write how helpful this book was. As someone who has dealt with grief (but not well), this book was an encouraging reminder of the gift of grief and the potential for God to use it for our good - WITHOUT being trite. Highly recommend. I finished this a couple of months ago but didn't have adequate words to write how helpful this book was. As someone who has dealt with grief (but not well), this book was an encouraging reminder of the gift of grief and the potential for God to use it for our good - WITHOUT being trite. Highly recommend.

  23. 5 out of 5

    Joshua Kinney

    A book that touches your soul and moves you to tears, to your knees, and back to tears. So thankful for Dr. Sittser’s life and voice.

  24. 4 out of 5

    Russell Hawkins

    One of the best books I've read in awhile. A book that everyone should read and one that I am sure I will re-read in the future. Even if you haven't experienced loss at this level you will learn from this book and have a new and likely better perspective of those that have. I so appreciate the authors ability to share his horrific story and by doing so has helped thousands of others - as it has me. One of the best books I've read in awhile. A book that everyone should read and one that I am sure I will re-read in the future. Even if you haven't experienced loss at this level you will learn from this book and have a new and likely better perspective of those that have. I so appreciate the authors ability to share his horrific story and by doing so has helped thousands of others - as it has me.

  25. 5 out of 5

    Makenzie

    This book is so good. I immediately bought 3 copies to give to friends and family!

  26. 4 out of 5

    K&E_getlit

    This book quite possibly changed my life.

  27. 5 out of 5

    Susan

    This is a well-written, important book in the area of grief and loss ... Sittser has reflected on accommodating to experiences we will all (if we haven't already) face. I hope to use this as a the subject of a Lenten Study at some point. It will be interesting to hear the thoughts of our book club members when we come to discuss it. This is a well-written, important book in the area of grief and loss ... Sittser has reflected on accommodating to experiences we will all (if we haven't already) face. I hope to use this as a the subject of a Lenten Study at some point. It will be interesting to hear the thoughts of our book club members when we come to discuss it.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Ellen

    A hard but Excellent book about accepting what God puts into your life because you love and trust him, not because it is easy or what you want. He gets the right to tell this - extraordinarily hard losses that he admittedly was still working through during the writing of the book. Recommended by Louise - a very healing book for her.

  29. 4 out of 5

    Anne Rowley

    The book is subtitled "how the soul grows through loss" but practically nothing is mentioned about that, which was the sole reason I read it. Well written, and achingly sad without enough hope to offset it, I couldn't recommend this one. The book is subtitled "how the soul grows through loss" but practically nothing is mentioned about that, which was the sole reason I read it. Well written, and achingly sad without enough hope to offset it, I couldn't recommend this one.

  30. 5 out of 5

    Andrea

    This is a great book for those who have experienced loss. I marked it up like my Bible.

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