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The Mourning Handbook


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About the Author

Helen Fitzgerald is the author of The Grieving Child: A Parent's Guide. She is the coordinator of the first grief program in the nation established in a community mental health center (The Mt. Vernon Center for Community Mental Health in Springfield, Virginia). A certified death educator, Fitzgerald devoted herself to the field after the death of her husband left her a widow with four children. She lectures across the country on the subject. The success of her program has led to the creation of similar programs nationally. She lives in Fairfax, Virginia.


While both authors offer guides to dealing with the death of a loved one, Fitzgerald concentrates on the wide range of topics associated with grief and mourning, including anticipatory and complicated grief. Though offering practical advice on making funeral arrangements and disposing of belongings, the author focuses primarily on how to deal with particular symptoms of grief, like depression, fear, and guilt. Fitzgerald (The Grieving Child, LJ 4/15/92) also considers the varying effects on the survivor of traumatic deaths (murder, suicide, etc.), the deceased's relationship (death of a parent, child, spouse, pet, etc.), and special occasions (birthdays, anniversaries). Her final sections are devoted to moving on from grief and advice on helping others through loss. A good, selected bibliography follows. Similar topics form the subject matter of Shaw's text, though she has designed more of a how-to guide for dealing with matters not ordinarily discussed in books on grief and mourning. Among many other things, the author discusses autopsy, securing a death certificate, choosing between funerals and memorial services, dealing with wills, insurance policies and the deceased's estate, dealing with the press when the death is a media event, and numerous other matters that survivors are often faced with and ignorant about. Each chapter includes up-to-date referral guides for getting help and information. While each book offers support for the grieving, Shaw's is the more useful in practical matters relating to the death of a loved one and also for those who wish to think about and plan for their own death. Both are recommended for the general reader.-Bonnie Hoffman, Stony Brook, N.Y.

Earl A. Grollman author of Living When a Loved One Has Died I recommend The Mourning Handbook to any reader in search of a path out of the wilderness of despair. It is a compass, pointing the way to recovery.

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