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After the Death of a Child


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This book is just excellent. Ann Finkbeiner has found a way to investigate her own grief and perhaps find some resolution to this difficult task of grieving. Thousands of bereaved parents and professionals will benefit from her work. -- Therese Goodrich, former executive director of The Compassionate Friends, member of Bereaved Parents of USA The book is beautifully written and deeply felt... It can be of value for bereaved parents who can by helped by it to understand their pain and sorrow and to understand the different ways fathers and mothers grieve. It should be required reading for professionals who would help bereaved parents and who would understand how deeply invested are parents in their children. -- Robert S. Weiss, University of Massachusetts, Boston By focusing on the long-term impact of losing a child, Ann Finkbeiner has raised issues and concerns that are rarely addressed. Her book is thought-provoking, deeply moving, and filled with insight and hope. I recommend it enthusiastically to parents and professionals. -- Camille Wortman, State University of New York at Stony Brook

About the Author

Ann K. Finkbeiner is an award-winning science journalist and regular contributor to Science, The Sciences, and USA Today and coauthor of The Guide to Living with HIV Infection, also available from Johns Hopkins.


Finkbeiner, a medical and science writer in Baltimore, lost her son, T.C. (Thomas Carl), in 1987 in a train wreck, when he was 18. Determined to learn what researchers had to say about the long-term effects on parents of a child's death, she found that data on the subject was sparse and focused mainly on recovery steps taken immediately after the death. So she placed an ad in the newsletter of a local chapter of Compassionate Friends, a self-help organization for bereaved parents. She then interviewed respondents who had lost one (or more) offspring, stipulating that the death(s) had to have occurred at least five years before the interview. She met individually with 30 parents: Did they feel guilty? Did they feel better over time? Did their relationship to God change? The two main things she learned are that a child's death is disorienting indefinitely and letting go of a child is impossible. The author makes no claims to scientific rigor-interviewees were self-selected by virtue of having answered the author's ad. Those who have lost a child will find corroboration of many of their feelings in this enlightening and heartrending study. (May)

[W]ritten with warmth, depth, and sensitivity... it will be a comfort to those some way down the road, helping them understand their sorrow and pain, and affirming their own individual way of grieving. -- June Gooch Newsletter of the Compassionate Friends The bravery that Ann Finkbeiner must have had to write this book is incredible... By using her own and other parents' experiences, the author makes the issues speakable, and a sense of peace through connectedness with these parents is conveyed to the reader. -- Marceil Bauman-Bork, MD Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic Find a copy... It will exhaust and replenish you. -- Gary Grant We Need Not Walk Alone Enriching. One is struck by the mysterious power of attachment and love in the parent-child bond. -- Holly Perkins, M.D. Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Like mourning itself, this powerful book, much of it in the words of bereaved parents, evokes a series of reactions... It illustrates the hard fact [of human suffering] but also our resilience. New York Times The first book to examine the long-term nature of parental grief through the tales of those who suffer it. Although the book includes most current grief research, its authorities are parents. Baltimore Sun

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