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

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

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

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


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The most helpful grief book to read when you're ready to start healing after the loss of a loved one.

Discover the transformative power of healing and hope with this top-rated grief book and compassionate guide for those navigating the challenging journey of grief and loss.

Written with profound wisdom and heartfelt empathy, I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye gently walks readers through the stages of grief, providing practical tools and empowering strategies to cope with the pain and confusion that accompany the loss of a loved one. 

Whether you've experienced the recent passing of a family member, friend, or even a pet, this book offers solace and guidance to help you navigate your unique grieving process.

Features include:

  • Practical Guidance: Learn effective coping strategies and practical tools to navigate the grieving process.
  • Empathy and Understanding: Feel understood and supported through heartfelt anecdotes and relatable experiences.
  • Personal Growth: Find solace and meaning in your grief journey as you embark on a path of healing and personal growth.
  • Comprehensive Resource: Access a comprehensive guide that addresses various aspects of grief, including anticipatory grief, sudden loss, and long-term complicated grief.
  • Hope and Inspiration: Embrace a message of hope and inspiration, knowing that healing is possible even in the face of profound loss.

Whether you are at the beginning of your grief journey or further along the path, this book will help you find the strength to heal, honor your loved one's memory, and rediscover joy and purpose in your life.

Praise for I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye:

"I highly recommend this book, not only to the bereaved, but to friends and counselors as well."— Helen Fitzgerald, author of The Grieving Child, The Mourning Handbook, and The Grieving Teen

"This book, by women who have done their homework on grief... can hold a hand and comfort a soul through grief's wilderness. Outstanding references of where to see other help."— George C. Kandle, Pastoral Psychologist

"Finally, you have found a friend who can not only explain what has just occurred, but can take you by the hand and lead you to a place of healing and personal growth…this guide can help you survive and cope, but even more importantly... heal."— The Rebecca Review

"For those dealing with the loss of a loved one, or for those who want to help someone who is, this is a highly recommended read."—Midwest Book Review

Named a Best Book on Losing a Parent for 2022 by Choosing Therapy.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781402212215
Publisher: Sourcebooks
Publication date: 05/01/2008
Edition description: Updated
Pages: 320
Sales rank: 40,202
Product dimensions: 8.82(w) x 11.80(h) x 0.80(d)

About the Author

Pamela D. Blair, Ph.D. is a psychotherapist and pastoral counselor in private practice in Hawthorne, New York. Brook Noel is a CEO, author, speaker and mom. She has been featured in hundreds of shows and magazines, including ABC World News, CNN Headline News and Fox & Friends. She is the author of The Change Your Life Challenge and several other books.

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.

Table of Contents


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
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

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
Happy New Year?
Next Year

Chapter Eight: Grieving Together: Understanding How Men and Women Grieve
Problem Solving and Facing Challenges
Processing Grief
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
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
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
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
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
The Gratitude Journal
Memory Books

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

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

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


What People are Saying About This

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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