When psychotherapist Jeanne Safer lost her mother, she was determined to turn her loss into an opportunity for insight and growth. Through her own experience, her work with patients, and in-depth interviews, Safer shows that the death of a parent can be a catalyst for change. In this updated paperback edition, Safer includes a helpful resource section, including information on hospice care, rehabilitation programs, and more. Bold, surprising, and compassionate, Death Benefits challenges the idea that loss must simply be endured or overcome.
Psychotherapist Safer appears to be targeting surviving adult children of dysfunctional parents when she claims, The death of your parents can be the best thing that ever happens to you. Safer (The Normal One: Life with a Difficult or Damaged Sibling) describes her own mother as an unhappy woman who viewed her daughter as an extension of herself; she also relates anecdotes from patients and 60 interviewees whose parents were critical or rejecting, or who significantly impeded their children s happiness and personal growth. In other cases, parents dominated their children s lives because of prolonged illness. Safer offers some perspective along with helpful exercises for adult children to begin to heal from emotional wounds inflicted by their parents. For instance, just as one sorts through a parent s physical possessions and keeps some while discarding others, one can do the same with parents emotional legacy. Some will be shocked by the central idea of Safer s book; others seeking to free themselves from ties that have bound too tightly will welcome Safer s message: there s no need to feel guilty about a sense of freedom and finding one s true self after a parent s death.