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Grief Denied: A Vietnam Widow's Story Paperback – November 11, 1999

4.9 out of 5 stars 14 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


Grief Denied is about healing: it is about coming to terms with the intimate pain and emotional violence that was unleashed by the Vietnam War. It is also a bittersweet love story in which a young girl meets a soldier-boy, a young bride loses her soldier-husband and how, on the 30th anniversary of their marriage, the mature woman is finally able to say good-bye to the man she will always love. Laurent tells her story with clarity and candor and a great deal of caring. There are vivid descriptions of her husband, Howard, who died in combat in Vietnam on May 10, 1968, when she was 22 years old and in the last phase of her first pregnancy. There are also sharp, tender portraits of her daughter Michelle, her parents, her friends and her lovers. The author doesn't seem to have held back anything or to have denied readers a full and complete view of her personality, including her dark side. So there are emotionally wrenching accounts of her depression, her suicidal feelings, her "insanity," as she calls it, as well as her therapy and recovery and rediscovery of prayer and faith. Grief Denied offers deeply moving passages from Howard's letters to Pauline shortly before his death. Laurent describes how Vietnam got to her, though she was thousands of miles away from the heat, the dirt and the mortars. If somehow or other you never did appreciate how Vietnam got to the heart of America, then this book ought to be at the top of your list of books to read. And if you are thinking of writing a memoir to express your seemingly inexpressible pain, then this book is also for you. "In writing I finally found a container which could hold my grief," Laruent writes. "the blank page wanted to hear it all--every last detail." -- The Press Democrat, August 29, 1999 by Jonah Raskin, Chairman of the Communication Studies Department at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA.

From the Publisher

Comments From Early Readers Thank you so much for bravely and forthrightly sharing your story. It touched me deeply and has shown me more than you can imagine. You have opened my heart. Blessings to you. Robin Gail, RScP

Your book is amazing. I gained so many insights and shed many tears. I admire your ability to let the storms of your sorrow move through you. Linda Bennett, Hospice nurse

A surprisingly "easy read." One of the most taboo subjects in my family and in our country is handled with frankness and grace. Thanks so much for encouraging me to grieve and free my past. Ken B. 12-Step Member

Your book was written from your heart and in order to read it, I had to open my heart, too. It wasn't easy. There's a lot of unfinished loss there to look at. I realized I'm not finished grieving for my Vietnam veteran boyfriend. Thank you for writing this book. Dee Dee Schneider, Massage Therapist

I just finished reading your beautiful memoir in two nights. I didn't want to put it down. Your courage to tell your story and describe your process in grieving touched my heart. Anila Roberts, Hospice Nurse

You should furnish Kleenex with this book. I've only read the first few pages and I'm crying already. Ted Sexauer, Vietnam veteran and poet

Your book is incredible. I couldn't put it down (read it in two sittings.) What journeys -- one of your grieving and one of writing your story. Thank you for this wonderful gift. Julia Grant

I'm halfway through the book and I must admit you had my interest from the first paragraph. It's so fascinating to see into your mind and heart. It takes a lot of courage to express the truth on paper. It's beautifully written and I look forward to your next book. J. Rigler, Photojournalist and author.


Product Details

  • Paperback: 232 pages
  • Publisher: Catalyst for Change (November 11, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0967142407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0967142401
  • Product Dimensions: 8.3 x 5.4 x 0.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,571,141 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
"Grief Denied" is a competently written book by a Vietnam widow, Pauline Laurent, who for many years lived a life defined by her husband's death. In telling her story, she provides support as well as a roadmap on how to remake herself as woman whose life did not end with her husband's. Forming a life around death does not ultimately sustain the will to live.
A young widow, expecting her first child, Laurent did not know how to grieve. Everyone told her to be strong and, implicitly, to get over it. She had nightmares and persistent thoughts that her Howard wasn't in the coffin they weren't allowed to open. Instead of the thanks of a grateful nation, she received a silence that evoked a sense of shame. Laurent coped by developing a stoicism and anger that kept her husband's death unfinished business.
The effort cost her. One chapter is titled "The Lost Years." The book is very detailed on how she recognized things weren't right with her and her efforts to change that. She says: "It seems as if the experiences that we, the survivors of that war, have tried to forget, deny, and ignore are now knocking on the door of our unconsciousness, asking to be remembered and finally dealt with so that we can truly move forward with our lives." That she has done with this memoir.
Not forgotten in her book is the importance for a child to grieve, maybe especially for a posthumous child as all the father represents is loss. I particularly recommend it, not just to widows, but to anyone who had a family member killed in Vietnam.
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Pauline's account of her early days of being a young military war widow and pregnant with the child that will never meet her father touched me to the deepest part of my soul. It was the first, and only, account of what my world was like and spoke a language I thought no one knew. Her message of denying grief is strong and resounding, most with personal antidotes, struggles and triumphs. I recommend this book to any and every person that either experiences first hand the life of a military widow or knows a person who is walking the path of widowhood alone.
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Format: Paperback
"Pauline Laurent's Grief Denied, A Vietnam Widow's Story is a must read for all of us who in some way experienced the Vietnam War. As a combat veteran who survived the war, I had never considered, much less appreciated what the loved ones of those killed in action have gone through. Pauline's compelling story takes the reader from an innocent war bride, to a young overwhelmed war widow, filled with the unborn child of her first love, through the depths of self-doubt and depression to emerge finally as a complete person secure in her womanhood. We can all benefit from reading Pauline's story as she takes us on the ride of her life, sometimes gently, sometimes shockingly, but always gripping. Every American will benefit from reading this experience of a war bride turned war widow and the struggles she encounters being both mother and father to the most important thing left behind by her war hero husband who died leading his fellow soldiers across a bridge in Gia Dinh province on May 10, 1968."
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I was so touched by the reading of this book, that I cried like a baby for the first time since I returned back from Vietnam. I was there myself and knew many men, such as Pauline's husband. I just never realized how much grief and stress that those left behind had suffered. Pauline is an example of someone who has had to learn how to cope and deal with the death of her husband, without any road maps. She lead with her heart and let her emotions take her to places she had never visited before. She allows us to take that journey of her spirit, though the pages of this wonderfully, well written, book of her emotional expereinces. I could not put this book down once I began - not until I reached and read the final word on the last page. I highly recommend buying and reading of this book. It will move you in ways you thought possible.
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Pauline Laurent's beautifully written "Grief Denied- A Vietnam Widow's Story" is a brave gift to a country that needs to look at the long-term traumatic effects on loved ones of those who answered the call to Vietnam. As a former wife of a Vietnam veteran who physically survived the war, but was scarred mentally and emotionally, I have longed for books that tell of the trauma behind closed doors on American soil, long after the end of the Vietnam war. Sadly, I have found very little written on the subject. I used to think I was alone in the madness of grief and confusion. Thanks to Pauline Laurent, I know there are many others out there who have suffered similar experiences, with no recognition. It is time for America to wake up, look at the ugly aftermath and acknowledge it. There has been too much shame born by those of us directly affected by Nam. I thank and applaud Pauline for adding a most important work to the "women on the homefront" point of view. It is high time we give credit to those women who have paid a high price for loving Vietnam vets!
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Laurent has written a searingly painful portrait of the endless pit of despair and intermingled rage engendered by a senseless death. Such a death involves a murder of the soul, and her writing about the combat death of her husband after a pitifully short marriage is terrible to read. Seven months pregnant, she loses the center of her life forever in one short moment, and must somehow find the strength to go on and raise their little daughter born so soon after her father's death.
While her husband died in Vietnam, the experience of coming to terms with the death of a loved one is universal. No one who has not felt the hopelessness and the bleakness of the unending sorrow is fully capable of knowing what it is like, but the beautiful writing of Laurent makes it as close as is humanly possible to understand. It is the writing which distinguishes this book; Laurent expresses the pain and anguish of all losses in her words. Difficult to read; yes. Worthwhile; absolutely. And somehow cathartic, for we have all experienced loss, even if not a husband lost to combat in a senseless, meaningless political debacle as Vietnam. Read it; you'll be glad you did.
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