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I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One

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Overview

Each year about eight million Americans suffer the death of someone close to them. Now for those who face the challenges of sudden death, there is a hand to hold. Written by two women who have experienced sudden loss, this updated edition of the best selling bereavement classic will touch, comfort, uplift and console. Authors Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D., offer a comforting hand to hold for those who are grieving the sudden death of a loved one.

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I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One

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Overview

Each year about eight million Americans suffer the death of someone close to them. Now for those who face the challenges of sudden death, there is a hand to hold. Written by two women who have experienced sudden loss, this updated edition of the best selling bereavement classic will touch, comfort, uplift and console. Authors Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D., offer a comforting hand to hold for those who are grieving the sudden death of a loved one.

Featured on ABC World News, Friends and many other shows, this book acts as a touchstone of sanity through difficult times. I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye covers such difficult topics as the first few weeks, suicide, death of a child, children and grief, funerals and rituals, physical effects, homicide and depression. With new material covering the unique circumstances of loss, men and women's grieving styles, religion and faith, myths and misunderstandings, I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye reflects the shifting face of grief.

This book has offered solace to over eighty thousand people, ranging from seniors to teenagers and from the newly bereaved to those who lost a loved one years ago. Individuals engulfed by the immediate aftermath will find a special chapter covering the first few weeks.

Tapping their personal histories and drawing on numerous interviews, authors Brook Noel and Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D., explore unexpected death and its role in the cycle of life. I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye provides survivors with a rock-steady anchor from which to weather the storm of pain and begin to rebuild their lives.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"I highly recommend this book, not only to the bereaved, but to the friends and counselors as well." —-Helen Fitzgerald, author of The Grieving Child
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781402212215
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2008
  • Edition description: Updated
  • Edition number: 2
  • Pages: 292
  • Sales rank: 52,286
  • Product dimensions: 8.82 (w) x 11.80 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author


Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D., is the author of The Next Fifty Years and coauthor, with Brook Noel, of You're Not Alone.

Brook Noel is the author or coauthor of many books on a variety of topics, including The Make Today Matter Makeover, The Change Your Life Challenge, The Single Parent Resource, and 400 Rush Hour Recipes.

Ellen Archer is an acclaimed audiobook narrator and winner of a coveted Audie Award for For the Love of a Dog (available from Tantor).

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Read an Excerpt

Excerpt from Chapter Two: Notes for the First Few Weeks

"And people answered the phone for me.
And people cooked for me.
And people understood for me.
My dearest friends cared for me when I didn't care."

- Wendy Feiereisen

At this moment, in the direct aftermath of losing someone tragically, there is so little anyone can say. We cannot find the words to offer you peace - though we wish it were a gift we could give you. We promise you now that we will give you everything we can to help you make your way through this. We will help you wind a path through the haze, the confusion, and the pain that is gripping at your core.

For the first few weeks, do not concern yourself with what you will do, where you will go, or what lies in the future. For now, we ask that you simply follow the guidelines in this chapter. There will be time to cope, to understand, to process - later. Right now, you simply need to take care of you.

Treat Yourself as if You Were in Intensive Care
You are in the process of going through one of the most traumatic experiences a person can endure. The challenges you have already faced, both physically and mentally, will leave you vulnerable, exhausted, and weak. It is imperative that you focus directly on yourself and on any dependents. Find ways to get your needs met first in these few weeks.

In the first week or so you will probably feel stunned and overwhelmed. You may also feel numb or hysterical. Your emotional system shuts down, providing temporary insulation from the full impact of your loss. You will go through the motions; it will look like you're coping well sometimes.

In her book, The Worst Loss, Barbara D. Rosof writes, "In shock you may be unable to move or speak coherently; people report that they cannot think. Shock responses may also be active and intense; you may have screamed, or run from the room, or physically attacked the bringer of the news. All of these behaviors are means of shutting down, or distancing yourself from a reality that you do not yet have a way to deal with. As you look back, your behavior may seem bizarre and totally out of character for you. Remember that your entire world had been knocked out from under you. You were in free fall, and your first task was to find any way to stop the fall."

When the funeral is over and your relatives and friends have gone home, the shock begins to wear off. It is important not to make any decisions that will have a lasting impact on your life (for example, sell the house, give away the person's belongings, etc.) while you are in shock.

Expect to Be Distracted
During the first few weeks, your mind will be filled with racing thoughts and unfamiliar emotions. Many people report having difficulty with simple tasks. Losing one's keys, forgetting where you are while driving, and sluggish reaction time are all commonly reported problems. With everything you are mentally and physically trying to process, it's normal to be distracted. Take special caution. Try to avoid driving and other activities where these symptoms may cause injury.

Have Someone Near You
If possible, choose a close friend to keep near you through the first week or two. Let this person help you make decisions, hear your fears or concerns, and be the shoulder for you to lean on. Give them a copy of this book. Later, as you move through the grieving process, it will be very helpful to have someone who has "been there" and understands thoroughly what you are talking about.

Accept the Help of Friends
Our energy is so depleted in the first few weeks after loss, it's hard to even ask for help. We have included a handout at the end of this chapter that can be photocopied freely and given to your inner circle of friends and relatives. You may be reluctant to do this, but please do. Even if we don't think we need people right now, we do indeed. Brook shares her story of friendship . . .

"When I lost my brother, my friend Sara was my anchor. I never asked her to come over that evening but as soon as she heard, she came (even though I told her there was nothing she could do). She simply sat next to me. Then she went upstairs and packed my bag for the upcoming week. She hugged me when I needed it and sat in the other room when I needed to be alone. To this day, her warm presence brings tears to my eyes. It was an extension of love and caring like few I have known."

If, like Brook, you are too grief-ridden to ask for help, simply show friends this book and let them read these few pages so they have an idea of what you need and how to support you. Friends want to help, but they rarely know how. The cycle of your grief will be more bearable when you hold the hand of a friend. Reach out. The following two entries summarize beautifully what those who face grief need from the people around them.

"I'll cry with you,"
she whispered
"until we run out of tears.
Even if it's forever.
We'll do it together."
There it was . . . a simple promise of connection.
The loving alliance of grief and hope that blesses both our breaking apart and our coming together again.

Molly Fumia, Safe Passage

Needed: A strong, deep person wise enough to allow me to grieve in the depth of who I am, and strong enough to hear my pain without turning away.

I need someone who believes that the sun will rise again, but who does not fear my darkness. Someone who can point out the rocks in my way without making me a child by carrying me. Someone who can stand in thunder and watch the lightning and believe in a rainbow.
Fr. Joe Mahoney, Concerns of Police Survivors Newsletter
(This is excerpted from a beautiful book on grief titled Forever Remembered: Cherished messages of hope, love and comfort from courageous people who have lost a loved one. Compendium Publishing.)

Caring for Your Children
If you have small children, contact friends and relatives to help you care for them. Consider having someone stay with you for the specific task of caring for your children, since some children may be further traumatized by separation. In Chapter Nine we cover the specifics of children and grief. While it is human nature to want to help and care for others, we must understand at this trying time we will barely have enough energy to care for ourselves. Even if we want to help those around us, we won't have the resources. It's in our best interest to allow this time for our own grief.

Someone to Take Calls and Check Email
If the person who has died is of your immediate family, you will be receiving many phone calls, visitors, and cards. Have a friend come by to take messages, check emails, answer the door, and answer the phone. Most callers do not expect to speak directly with the family but simply wish to express their condolences. Have someone keep a notepad handy to record the names and messages of callers. Be forewarned, occasionally you may receive a strange call or a strange card.

Brook once took a message from a caller who offered condolences for the loss of her brother and then in a second breath requested a current picture of her daughter. Pam remembers a caller who said, "I'm sure George's death was easier for you, because you were divorced after all." These thoughts and comments are inappropriate and can be very hurtful, though the caller does not intend them to be. In our society, we just don't know how to handle grief and loss. People cope with grief differently - many people don't know how to cope at all. When you think of it, our world is geared toward gaining and acquiring; we have few lessons on how to handle loss. Occasionally people will ask a strange question or perhaps write a note in a card that seems a bit "out of place." Realize that this is not done to hurt you; these are just people who are inept at handling loss and the thought of loss.

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Table of Contents

Introduction

Part One: An Unfamiliar World: The Journey into Grief
Chapter One: The Starting Point: Notes from the Austhors
Pam's Story
Brook's Story
Sudden Loss Comes Again

Chapter Two: Notes for the First Few Weeks
Treat Yourself as if You Were in Intensive Care
Expect to Be Distracted
Have Someone Near You
Accept the Help of Friends
Caring for Your Children
Someone to Take Calls and Check Email
Seek Assistance with Final Arrangements
Don't Worry about Contacting People
Let Your Body Lead You
Religious Traditions
Wills and Arrangements
Cultural Differences
Going Back to Work
Grief Sessions
A Guide for Those Helping Others with Grief

Chapter Three: Understanding the Emotional and Physical Effects of Grief
Exhaustion
Days of Distraction
Denying Our New Reality
Anger . . . a Normal Response
Grief Knows No Schedule
Physical Symptoms
Emotional Ambushes
Grief and Dreams
If You Don't Dream
If You Do Dream
Important Things to Remember on the Pathway
Feeling the Presence of the Deceased
When You Don't Feel the Presence of the Deceased
Communicating with Your Loved One (and If You Haven't)
The World Becomes Dreamlike
A Time to Withdraw
Hurtful Self-talk
Impulsive Living
Instant Replays and Obsessive Thoughts
The "If Only" Mind Game
Fear

Chapter Four: Myths and Misunderstandings of the Grieving Process
Myth #1: Death is death, sudden or long-term, and we all grieve the same way
Myth #2: By keeping busy I can lessen or eliminate my grief.
Myth #3: I must be going crazy or "losing it."
Myth #4: I will need to make sure I don't grieve for too long - one year should be enough
Myth #5: If I express my anger at God or the circumstances of thedeath, I am a bad person and will "pay" for it.
Myth #6: My friends tell me it is time to let go. Since others haveacclimated to life again, I should too
Myth#7: I must wear black for a designated time period or I willdishonor the person who died
Myth #8: I won't have to grieve as much and I will feel better if Iuse alcohol or medication to alleviate my sadness
Myth #9: If I talk about the loss of my loved one I'll feel worse
Myth #10: Shouldn't I be strong enough to "tough it out" by myself?
Myth #11: I've done something wrong because some of my family and friends are turning away from me
Myth #12: I should be relieved that they didn't suffer a long and lingering illness
Myth #13: Someday I'll have another (spouse, child, parent, lover...) and that person will erase the pain and replace what I have lost.
Myth #14: Once I am done with one stage of grief, I will simply move on to the next
Myth #15: If I relive the good times, I'll stay stuck in the pain
Myth #16: Children really don't understand death and probably don't need to be included in the funeral plans or memorial services
Myth #17: To properly honor the deceased, I must have the standard wake and burial
Myth #18: I am scared that if I grieve, I'll "get over my loss." I don't want to forget him!
Myth #19: Help, I'm stuck on instant replay. I can't get this out of my thoughts - something is wrong with me
Myth #20: This kind of thing doesn't happen in my family
Myth #21: There must be something wrong with me. I'm not crying
Myth #22: I'm not grieving right - I should be doing something differently.
Myth #23: I should feel guilty.
Myth #24: I shouldn't feel so angry
Myth#25: I'll never be happy again.
Myth#26: After a while I will no longer think or feel anything about the loss
Myth #27: In order to process my grief effectively I need to advance through the Five Stages of Grief
Myth #28: The final stage of grief requires acceptance

Part Two: The World Is Upside Down: Collecting Our Scattered Pieces
Chapter Five: The World is Upside Down
Assumptions Are Shattered
Loss of Purpose
Redefining Ourselves
What Matters Now?
Finding a Beginning, Middle, and End
Why Did This Happen?
Do We Ever Get over Grief?

Chapter Six: Relating to Others
Too Close to Home
You Are a Different Person
The Ten-Day Syndrome
Repeating the Story
Awkward Questions

Chapter Seven: Difficult Days: Holidays, Anniversaries, and More
Birthdays
Anniversaries
Weddings
Holidays
Happy New Year?
Next Year

Chapter Eight: Grieving Together: Understanding How Men and Women Grieve
Problem Solving and Facing Challenges
Processing Grief
Communicating
Different Losses, Different Worlds: When One Member of a Couple Experiences Tragedy
Masculine Grief
Guidelines for Grieving Couples

Chapter Nine: Helping Children Cope with Grief
Babies (Birth to Eighteen Months)
Toddlers (Eighteen Months to Three Years)
Young Children
Age Three to Six Years
Age Six to Nine Years
Age Nine and Older
Adolescence
Teenagers to Young Adults
Does Your Child Need Professional Help?
Grief by Proxy
General Guidelines for Helping Children

Part Three: Sharing Our Stories
Chapter Ten: Losing a Friend
Reaching for the Phone
Some Things You Can Do

Chapter Eleven: Losing a Parent
Daddy
Generation Shifts
Some Things You Can Do

Chapter Twelve: Losing a Child
Extreme Emotions
Losing an Adult Child
Your Relationship with Your Partner
For Parents with Surviving Children
Some Things You Can Do after the Loss of a Child

Chapter Thirteen: Losing a Partner
Loss of Identity
Circles of Friends
Lingering Memories and Images
Marilyn's Story
Joan's Story
Learning to Do Things Alone
Funeral Arrangements
For Widows with Surviving Children at Home
Will I Ever Love Again?
Seeking Purpose
Some Things You Can Do

Chapter Fourteen: Losing a Sibling
Being Overlooked in the Grieving Process
Double the Loss
Idealizing
Guidelines for Young Siblings
Identity through a Sibling
Birth Order
Is He Still My Older Brother?
The Hot and Cold Nature of Sibling Relationships
Grieving an Adult Sibling
Terri's Story
Some Things You Can Do

Chapter Fifteen: Fallen Heros
Limited Circles of Support
Deepened Denial
Political Challenges
Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors
Military Losses Outside of the Public Eye
I Should Have Said
Standing with Pride
Some Things You Can Do

Chapter Sixteen: Suicde
Common Reactions to Suicide
Religion and Suicide
The Stigma
Some Things You Can Do

Chapter Seventeen: One of Many: When Tragedy Causes Multiple Deaths
Trauma
Obsessed with Revenge and Retribution
Talking to Children
Mental Health Aspects of Terrorism
Typical Reactions
Post Traumatic Stress
The Path toward Healing

Chapter Eighteen: Other Unique Challenges
The Challenge of Closure: When Our Loved One's Body Is Not Recovered
Non-Traditional Relationships
Grief Is Cumulative
When Our Darkest Hour Becomes Front-Page News
Suggestions for Dealing with Media
Part Four: Pathways through Grief

Chapter Nineteen: The Road Ahead: Understanding the Grief Journey
Themes of Grief by Year
Grief Steps
The Ten-Step Pathway

Chapter Twenty: Faith
A Fork in the Road
Anger at God
Faith Communities and Grief
What Do I Believe?
Reconnecting with God
Some Things You Can Do

Chapter Twenty-One: Self-Help and Therapy
What are Grief Therapy and Grief Counseling?
Does Anything Good Ever Come of All This?
Maggie's Story
Is It Really Possible to Transform My Grief and Pain into Creative Energy?
Journaling and Letter Writing
Self-Help Books
Frequently Asked Questions about Self-Help, Therapy, and Healing
So much change has happened in my life since the loss. How do I cope?

Chapter Twenty-Two: The Grief Recovery Process and Exercises to Guide You
Anger Exercise
Thank You Exercise
Learning through Loss
What My Loved One Has Left Me
Screaming Exercise
Defining Priorities
Coping with Guilt
Poetry
The Gratitude Journal
Calming
Visualization
Memory Books
Rituals

Chapter Twenty-Three: The Journey Continued... Parting Notes from the Authors
Brook Noel . . . October 4, 1999
Brook Noel . . . July 29, 2007
Pamela D. Blair . . . 1999
Pamela D. Blair . . . July 29, 2007

APPENDIX I
The Memorial Service
The Eulogy
A Checklist of Calls to Make
Friends Support Group Invitation

APPENDIX II: GRIEF RESOURCES AND SUPPORT
Support for Loss of a Partner
Support for Grieving Children
Support for the Loss of a Child
Support for Loss through Suicide
Internet Support for Siblings
General Bereavement Support
Other Recommended Books by Topic

BIBLIOGRAPHY
INDEX
ABOUT THE AUTHORS

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 25 )
Rating Distribution

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(17)

4 Star

(1)

3 Star

(3)

2 Star

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1 Star

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 25 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 28, 2008

    Helping to live with your grief

    This is a outstanding book and a must book for anyone who has lost a loved one in a accident . It helps you to understand the roller coaster ride and how to deal with people and the everyday ordeal of living with this grief. It was really my life line and I have passed it on to several people who have lost loved ones . I lost my daughter and son in law in a horrible hellicpoter crash coming to me in Florida to bury my Mother all in twenty four hour period .

    8 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 30, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    Thank you for your words of wisdom and compassion. I would recom

    Thank you for your words of wisdom and compassion. I would recommend this book to everyone, whether you are grieving or not. One day you may need it for yourself or someone close to you. This is a well written guidebook to carry anyone through the experience of losing a close loved one suddenly. It contains sections dealing with specific losses such as: a spouse or partner, a sibling, suicide, mass death (such as terrorism), fallen heroes, and others. Each section is thoughtful and helpful. It also has a wonderful portion of the book carrying the reader step by step through the immediate aftermath of sudden death. The back couple chapters are dealing with additional resources and activities to help with grief work. This book helps to not feel like your going crazy and to let it come out how you need it to. I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who has suddenly lost a loved one, it lets you know your not alone and to feel alright about how you feel at any particular time. Grief is a very individual experience that nobody except the person inside your head will ever understand. These authors have written a resource to help you find your way through that deep, dark forest into the light again.      

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 18, 2009

    My New Bible...must have!!

    This book was on the shelf when I was looking for a book to help me through the sudden loss of my fiancee. There were very few people in my life that could relate to this type of loss...as this was an untimely tragic death.

    I wanted something that could help me understand what I was feeling...he wasn't old, he wasn't sick...he was in a car accident. There were so many things that I would read in this book and finally was able to say to myself, "what I am feeling is normal!" I didn't know how to move forward in my life, since I myself never experienced a tragic death...up until this, everyone that I knew that passed away was very sick or elderly.

    I would certainly recommend this book to anyone who is going through this type of loss...it IS different from losing someone that was sick or old. And anyone who knows anyone who recently experienced this, buy it for them! Even if they are not ready to read it right away, it will be there for them to poke through when they want validation of their feelings!

    6 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted March 5, 2009

    Still Not Ready to Say Goodbye

    I lost both of my parents within 8 days of each other (July/August 2008)and I still struggle every day with the emptiness and the "why" of it all. My Mother was diagnosed with a glioblastoma brain tumor and was gone within 6 weeks. Eight days prior to her death we lost my Father to a massive heart attack sitting on the side of the road, alone. The last few months have been a blur......the why's have gone unanswered, the emptiness unfilled. My siblings and I struggle daily trying to understand why God would allow this to happen to our family.

    This book has answered some questions and offered hope. Only time can heal. I know that we will never be the same as a family, but this has definitely been the best read (out of many books I have bought seeking answers) and I would highly recommend it to anyone going through losing a loved one.

    5 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted August 16, 2009

    grief book

    excellant accompaniment when one is on this journey loss . very comprehensive and helpful in that it addresses so much. a great source of support on this journey where no one reallly knows what to say or so many do not have a clue what it is like to go thru this.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 23, 2009

    I Wasn"t Ready to Say Goodbye

    This book was given to me by my daughter, when my son accidently drowned in Fla in July 2008. He was 41 and the love of my life. This book has helped me get thru my worst days. I still pick it up and read certain chapters when I am having a bad time. I would highly recommend this book to others that have lost a loved one.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 4, 2014

    not helpful

    boring and not helpful

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 24, 2012

    This book helped me through a horrible time!

    I received a bunch of books from people after I lost my husband in a car accident leaving me to care for my 5yr old son and 16month old daughter. It was a horrible time and no one has any clue what you are going through unless they have lost someone tragically, especially someone from your household. Life changes so fast and so many unanswered questions.

    I purchased this book for myself and it was the ONLY book that i read, all the others i lost interest after first couple pages, this book seemed like someone actually understood what i was going through and made me feel not so alone in a world where everyone else went back to their "normal life" that i did not have anymore.

    I have given this book to so many people since then when they've lost someone and knowing what it did for me and still does even after 3 1/2 years i will keep passing it on.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted January 25, 2012

    more from this reviewer

    Finally! A book to help with sudden death.

    I've struggled for months with what appeared to be a mid-life crisis. In researching how to get through it, I tracked the source down to delayed grief. I lost my brother in 1995 and my dad in 2000 in very similar auto accidents. I don't think I ever grieved them properly and it surfaced in my forties. This book is one of the ones I found to address my particular situation.

    This is a well written guidebook to carry anyone through the experience of losing a close loved one suddenly. It contains sections dealing with specific losses such as: a spouse or partner, a sibling, suicide, mass death (such as terrorism), fallen heroes, and others. Each section is thoughtful and helpful. It also has a wonderful portion of the book carrying the reader step by step through the immediate aftermath of sudden death. The back couple chapters are dealing with additional resources and activities to help with grief work.

    The authors of this book have both dealt with sudden death themselves. Part of what I found most useful was reading the sections they wrote about their personal situations. I'm still working on the back exercises. I think that will take a while. I wish I'd had this book in 1995 when I lost my brother. Even though my grief was delayed by decades, I am still finding it helpful. Grief is a very individual experience that nobody except the person inside your head will ever understand. These authors have written a resource to help you find your way through that deep, dark forest into the light again. I recommend it to anyone who's experienced a sudden death. I'll keep my copy when I'm finished to hand on to the first person I know who needs it. It helps

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted February 10, 2011

    Highly Recommended

    I recommend this book. It help me thru the roaler coaster I'm on. My sister sent it to me after I lost my 28 yr old daughter Irene. Deputy Rios was on her way to the airport for work duty when she had her accident in 08/13/2008. It helps you deal with the steps of losing a loved one from one day to the next. Unfortunately, I'm about to buy the same book to give to a dear freind who just lost her sister thru an accident.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted May 29, 2010

    great book for any one who has just lost some one

    this book was very helpful

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted February 2, 2011

    No text was provided for this review.

  • Anonymous

    Posted July 19, 2011

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