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After the Death of a Child: Living with Loss Through the Years Hardcover – Unabridged, May, 1996


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 273 pages
  • Publisher: Free Press; 1st edition (May 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0684829657
  • ISBN-13: 978-0684829654
  • Product Dimensions: 9.6 x 6.5 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,501,285 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

A book that explores our own resilience in the midst of one of the most distressful forms of human suffering, the death of a child. Because children aren't supposed to die, the loss is not only painful but profoundly disorienting. Finkbeiner, whose only child died in 1987, refers to her own experience and the experience of others to show that while bereaved parents can never really let go, they can and do recover, often developing a new appreciation for their own lives. Says one parent: "You just don't treat life as lightly, and if you don't treat things lightly, they do become richer."

From Publishers Weekly

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.
Copyright 1996 Reed Business Information, Inc.

Customer Reviews

4.4 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

35 of 35 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 15, 1997
Format: Hardcover
This book contains some of the most painful, and at the same time the most helpful writing I have read since the death of my own son. Those who will choose to read it will do so because they have experienced the most devastating loss imaginable - the death of a child. Ann Finkbeiner is right when she says her book is not for the newly bereaved. There are no comforting platitudes, no 12 steps, no meditations. No words of wisdom, no instructions for "getting over it", since, as she says, and everyone who has been there knows - there IS no getting over it. There's just learning a different way to live the rest of your life, learning to live with the pain. You'll only read it if you have the need to, and if you have need to, please know that I'm very sorry.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M. Ellsworth on March 15, 2006
Format: Paperback
I would recommend this book only to those who lost a child a few years before. For those who just lost a child, it may be too difficult to realize right away how long this will affect your life. Also, that you never "get over it", as long as you live.

It was well written and honest, by an author who experienced the loss of a child.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Indy Investor on November 29, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This was by far the best book I read after my son died. It gave me a roadmap of grief to help me know what to expect down the road at the earliest stage to many years out. I give it to anyone in my community who has lost a child recently.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Alice J. Wisler on August 25, 2001
Format: Hardcover
Powerful and covering so many aspects of the grieving life, After The Death of A Child, speaks to the hearts of bereaved parents everywhere. Read this book and know that you are not crazy for holding the feelings you have since the loss of your own child. Chapter 12 on Job was a comfort to read, providing me with many insights into my own faith as I read the thoughts of others. Read this book to know you are not alone. (Author "Slices of Sunlight, A Cookbook of Memories" Daniel's House Publications, 2000)
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 15, 1999
Format: Hardcover
This was one of the most helpful books I have read on the death of a child over the past ten years. My son died sixteen years ago and I was very interested to read a book dealing with the long term results of the loss of a child. This book dealt with many topics which are covered in the majority of books on grief but dealt with them from the view of parents who have moved several years away from the loss. After all, when a child dies you are still dealing with that death five years later, ten years later and throughout the remainder of your lifeCfs
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on September 21, 1999
Format: Paperback
As others have written, this book explains what we are still going though years later and that there is no quick fix for the newly bereaved. But there are things that friends and family can do to help, at any stage; from the funeral to 40 years later. Julane Grant's book, When Your Friend's Child Dies, offers easy to understand, practical ways for friends to help us live with (we don't get over it)the grief. When our friends know what we are feeling, then they know that we want our child mentioned, we want to grab a hold of everyone's memory of our child. This book told my unspoken feelings and now I leave my copy on the coffee table and friends pick it up. I already know how I feel, I want them to know!
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By P. Strand on March 2, 2008
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I found this book to be one of the better ones that I have read after the loss of my loving son Bob. The author while interviewing these parents let them tell their story and tell it their own way. Some had hope, others were still looking for it. Some were still in acute grief years later, some finding solace in volunteer work. The point is we all will cope and struggle in our own ways. This book tells of men and women dealing with this tragedy after at least a year has passed. It helped me to know that the many different ways we think and deal with our loss is all o.k.
Editing this review 4 years later, and this book is still one of the ones that has stayed with me and I have, and am reading a lot about the loss of a child. At the time I needed to know what life would be like in my future as I did not care if I had a future since Bob was gone. The people in the book were all different, some found hope, some probably never will. If this book and "Lament for a Son" and "When the Bough Breaks" are 5 stars then others I've read should have gotten 4 or 3 stars. It's been 5 yrs now and the pain is not as constant as the first 2 yrs. but the sadness is always there, just around the corner, or maybe in the next song or thought. But I guess it shouldn't be any other way.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful By frumiousb VINE VOICE on February 8, 2009
Format: Paperback
After our first and only child was stillborn two years ago, I had a whole raft of books on grief and loss recommended to me. Some were practical-- after a baby dies kind of stuff. They had advice on how to stop my milk, what to do for a funeral, what to expect in terms of attitudes in the world around me. Some books were more philosophical-- I think about something like Lewis' A Grief Observed. Now that I'm two years into the journey, I'm starting to reach for the more...sociology-based studies, I guess. What does grief do to your mind over time? How does mourning affect your every-day life in the long-term? I'm starting to take solace from a more objective look at the loss of a child.

Finkbeiner's book is in the third category. She, herself a bereaved parent, began a project to find out what the long-term effect the death of a child had on his or her parents. Through a combination of interview and information, she takes us through subjects like changes in relationships (to spouses, other children, God), changes in priorities, affect on what the parents want and expect from the world. She does a thorough and comprehensive job. I could identify with a lot of what I read in the book. I found it moving and informative.

I feel that I do need to warn you with this review that Finkbeiner rather explicitly does not deal with infant loss. Only one of the parents featured in the book had suffered loss of an infant-- and even she had to lose more than one to apparently make her eligible for inclusion. (Do you hear a note of bitterness in my voice? There probably is one. I've learned the hard way that there are hierarchies even among the bereaved.
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