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Ron Marasco is a professor in the College of Communication and Fine Arts at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. His first book, Notes to an Actor, was named by the American Library Association an "Outstanding Book of 2008." For the past five years he has taught a very popular course on the subject of grief using film, theatre, literature and oral history as a way to study this often intimidating subject. He has acted extensively on TV-in everything from Lost to West Wing to Entourage -and appeared opposite screen legend Kirk Douglas in the movie Illusion, for which he also wrote the screenplay. He has a BA from Fordham at Lincoln Center and an MA and Ph. D. from UCLA. Brian Shuff is a writer from Mesa, Arizona, who now lives in Los Angeles where he is at work completing a book of short stories. His mother died when he was eight years old, giving him a life-long interest in the subject of grief. Along with Ron Marasco he has written a screenplay based on Louise Hay's groundbreaking book, You Can Heal Your Life that will premiere in 2011. He and Marasco are also working on a dramatic adaptation of John McNulty's book This Place on Third Avenue.
A brave approach to the subject of grief. Truthful, practical, down-to-earth. This book will help a lot of people. -- Philip Zimbardo, Ph.D., former President of the American Psychological Association, Professor Emeritus at Stanford University, author of "The Time Paradox" (2009) and "The Lucifer Effect" (2008) There is no other book I know of that comes close to illuminating grief and all that surrounds it with such a clear and honest humanity. Marasco and Shuff embark on a rare exploration of the bone deep truths and unexpected consolations that lie within the mysteries of loss and healing. -- Beth Henley, Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright After reading this book I felt like I had landed on a planet with my own species! -- Lenore Rogers, Founder of Amy's Treat at Seacoast Cancer Center in New Hampshire Marasco (theater, Loyola Marymount Univ.; Notes to an Actor) and Shuff, who has written a screenplay with Marasco, offer a down-to-earth book on grief-hard, messy work, which often is not spoken of in our culture. They first discuss the new normality that a grieving person will experience and then explore being honest with oneself, life with the deceased, and the future. In the third section, the authors identify nine things that can help comfort the grieving (e.g., rest, sports, nature, indulgence). Finally, they cover expressing grief for men and women and those of various religious beliefs, self-expression, and honoring the deceased. The authors use anecdotes and scenes from movies and literature to help guide readers down this often lonely path. VERDICT A truthful, practical, and refreshingly honest look at an often taboo topic. Though this is a quick read, there is a wealth of information contained within the pages that will give comfort to the grieving. For all public libraries. * Library Journal * In a mere 198 pages, it unpacks this most universal of events, evoking deep emotions as it takes the reader on a tour of the literature of loss while offering straightforward observations, stories from life (what Marasco calls "these gems") and practical advice on coping with the death of a loved one. * Loyola Marymount Newsroom * About Grief creates a safe haven for the suffering and their family, friends, and co -workers. Placing the book in context, Ron Marasco and Brian Shuff write, 'All the stories and information in this book are here for one reason: to help you realize that you are not the only one.' Their language is contemporary, driving the message home without sugar coating: 'Our aim is to make you feel less lonely, and frankly, less nuts.' The authors discovered that 'If you talk about grief openly and honestly, people will talk back.' This sentence sets the stage for a book-long conversation about compassionate and insightful thinking. 'We don't do grief,' writes Joan Didion. 'Yet grief still does us,' state the authors. The cultural imperative to put on a happy face resonates with readers. The implied imperative is to 'act as if,' to pretend that sadness is not part of each minute of each day. About Grief is a love letter and a sympathy note validating the pain of those coping with loss. For family, friends, and acquaintances of the bereaved the book is a gentle instruction guide. * Foreword Reviews * This is a helpful book for those in the helping professions who work with people deep in grief. But it is also useful for friends who need guidance in talking to the bereaved. And finally it is a comfort for those experiencing the loss of a loved one. I especially liked the use of poetry and literary quotations. These are often the language of tears, words that speak more deeply and compassionately than any other. -- Arthur Dobrin, D.S.W., Professor Emeritus of University Studies, Hofstra University A wonderful, down-to-earth and reader friendly book that discusses an almost universal human experience in a unique and helpful way. -- Clifford N. Lazarus, Ph.D., Licensed Psychologist; co-founder & director of The Lazarus Institute Finally! A book about grief that combines gutsy and honest language with depth, humor, and truth. If you're grieving the death of a loved one, read this book. If you want to support someone who's grieving, read this book. About Grief is number one on my `recommended reading' list for anyone who wants a better sense of the real journey of grief. -- Donna Schuurman, Executive Director, The Dougy Center for Grieving Children & Families, Portland, Oregon About Grief: Insights, Setbacks, Grace Notes, Taboos is an honest, down-to-earth and extraordinarily creative contribution to the popular literature written for those who grieve. Authors Marasco and Shuff fearlessly delve into subject matter most other self-help writers tend to avoid like the plague (such as the not so unusual urge among some who grieve to indulge in promiscuous sex) while managing to write a respectful, meaningful, and "fun read" about dying and death. This book is never pedantic. In fact, the authors proudly profess not to be grief experts. They are artists and teachers whose understanding and appreciation of the human condition is informed by their love of Shakespeare, modern theater and film, as well as popular memoir, literature and poetry. Their passion for the arts is contagious. The reader is swept up by powerful scenes from works of great writers, with words that reassure, challenge and inspire. -- Robert Zucker, author, The Journey Through Grief and Loss: Helping Yourself and Your Child When Grief Is Shared