The Empty Room: Understanding Sibling Loss Reprint Edition

24 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0743201520
ISBN-10: 0743201523
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The Empty Room: Understanding Sibling Loss + SURVIVING THE DEATH OF A SIBLING:  Living Through Grief When an Adult Brother or Sister Dies + Healing the Adult Sibling's Grieving Heart: 100 Practical Ideas After Your Brother or Sister Dies (Healing Your Grieving Heart series)
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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

In 1972, when the author was six, her nine-year-old brother, Ted, developed huge bruises all over his body. Diagnosed with aplastic anemia, a rare immune deficiency disease, Ted lived in a sterile hospital "bubble room" until his death eight years later. In this beautifully written account, DeVita, a science journalist, describes how Ted's life and death have affected her and, drawing on 77 interviews with others who have lost siblings, examines a subject that has largely been overlooked. DeVita considers survivors, rather than academicians or researchers, to be the real experts on this subject. Many gripping stories are told by brothers and sisters of all ages, including those who have endured the death of a twin. In order to protect their other children and deal with their own grief, many parents, like DeVita's own, did not often discuss the deaths and, in a sense, deprived the surviving siblings of the mourning process. In haunting and evocative narratives, many of those interviewed share how they finally found a way, years later, to acknowledge their terrible loss. DeVita recalls her relationship with the brother who loved and teased her, as well as his bravery during the years of isolation when almost no one touched him. "Meredith," who suddenly lost her beloved teenage brother to cancer, now runs marathons in his memory, among other coping strategies. DeVita recounts the interviews she conducted with her own parents and movingly illuminates the tragic situation of her father, an oncologist, who could not save his own son, and her mother, who found the inner strength do her best for her dying son.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

Alison Smith author of Name All the Animals The Empty Room is one of those quietly revolutionary books. Through her own grief, through conscientious research and compassionate journalism, DeVita-Raeburn tells the story of a forgotten grief. In our culture, sibling grief is hidden. It is a nameless, faceless loss. DeVita-Raeburn gives these siblings a voice. And in doing so, she gives us back the story of our own lives.

Judith Guest author of Ordinary People and The Tarnished Eye This book is a factual description of my own fictional preoccupations, and I found myself thinking over and over: The Empty Room is a book that could save lives. Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn has offered a wonderful gift, an invaluable source for both solace and understanding. This book is not only for those who have lost siblings, but for all of us who have siblings and have struggled with the joys and mysteries of a mingled identity.

Andrew Solomon author of The Noonday Demon The death of a sibling is a curiously neglected area in modern psychology, and in The Empty Room, Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn delves into this particular and poignant category of trauma. Her book is compassionate and generous and will be a great solace to people isolated in the pain of such loss.

Reeve Lindbergh author of Under a Wing This is a brave, wise, and above all open-minded look at a truth that seems to have been ignored almost entirely: sibling love and sibling loss are as profound as any other experiences in our family lives and do impact us, enormously, forever. It's as if Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn has opened a new window on a landscape I thought I knew, and suddenly, after all these years, I see my own home ground much more clearly.

Isadore Rosenfeld, M.D. Rossi Distinguished Professor of Clinical Medicine at New York Hospital Weil Cornell Medical Center and author of The Best Treatment This moving book is a must-read for anyone who has lost a brother or sister (and for their parents as well) and needs help understanding and coping with their emotions.

Judy Dunn author of Sisters and Brothers and professor at the Institute of Psychiatry, King's College, London This is a poignant exploration of a seriously neglected topic -- the impact of the death of a sibling. It is a moving contribution to our understanding of sibling relationships and will surely be helpful to those coping with the grief of bereavement.

Helen Rosen, Ph.D. author of Unspoken Grief: Coping with Childhood Sibling Loss Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn's The Empty Room is a very welcome addition to the scant literature on sibling loss. In telling her own story, as well as the stories of those she interviewed for the book, DeVita-Raeburn draws us into the experience of both children and adults who have lost a brother or sister. It amazes me that sibling loss continues to go unrecognized as the potentially life-changing event that it is. Here's a book that acknowledges that pain and will help survivors begin to heal.

Joanna H. Fanos, author of Sibling Loss The journalistic skills of DeVita-Raeburn, combined with her courage in sharing her own personal story of her complex responses and feelings to her brother's illness and death, have produced a book which represents a significant step in portraying the profound consequences of sibling loss. Her story is destined to reach the hearts of many readers, not only those of us whose personal journey of discovery and healing resonates with hers.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Scribner; Reprint edition (March 13, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743201523
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743201520
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.6 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (24 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #125,084 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By A reader on July 25, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book is essential for anyone trying to cope with the loss or a brother or sister. I'm not aware of any other book that takes such a hard, honest, and brilliantly insightful look at this long-overlooked emotional crisis. DeVita-Raeburn tells the heartbreaking story of the loss of her older brother, who lived alone in a sterile room for 8 years, and died at 17. (He became one of the inspirations for the trivializing "bubble boy" movie some years ago.) At her brother's funeral, relatives and friends told her to be strong, because this was very hard for her parents. But what about her? For years she struggled to understand what for her was a profound loss, but one that psychologists and psychiatrists didn't recognize. Parents suffer when they lose a child; everyone knows their grief must be almost impossible to bear. But siblings are supposed to "get over it" somehow. They are supposed to be too young to suffer. DeVita-Raeburn destroys that myth with the stories of 77 people she interviewed who had lost siblings, most of whom had found it difficult or impossible to pick up the pieces of their lives after they'd lost a brother or sister. The loss was devastating not only when the lost sibling was a child, but when people lost a brother or a sister after spending many decades together. Anyone who has lost a brother or a sister, or who has friends or relatives coping with such a loss, should pick up this book today.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By S. A. Reuther on September 11, 2004
Format: Hardcover
My girlfriend found this book online and bought it for me. My brother recently died on July 29th and I've been lost ever since. This book reads similar to my brother's illness (Aplastic Anemia) that ultimately killed him. The only part about this book that really didn't go along with the way I was feeling was the chapter on twins. The person she interviewed had his good points but I agree more with the author on the issue of who's grief is "worse". Everybody that knew the deceased should be allowed to grieve them equally. It's not a contest.

I recommend this book to anyone who is grieving the loss of a sibling or is friends with someone who is. Even though you may not be experiencing a loss, there are some ways to equalize each person's grief over the lost person. Instead of saying this is your parents' loss or your sibling's family (if they are adult and married), this is your (the sibling's) loss too.

I especially liked the resources in the back pages, there are a few helpful websites as well as several books and movies.

This book can really save lives. I found myself unable to stop reading it. I finished it in just over two days and I felt a sense of calm. This book isn't a magical cure for the ailment of grief but it did help me, at least, begin to look at my grief as my grief and now I can begin my journey to finding and redefining who I am and who my sibling was. Thanks so much!
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By M Celeste Novak on July 24, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I could not put this book down and I can't stop talking about it. The writer's grief, her ability to painfully reveal the extent of her loss from her brother's death while interviewing others who have lost siblings, some who have lost twins, was difficult to read without crying. By revealing her story and the stories of others who have lost siblings, she has reminded me to pay attention to my own siblings, our memories and our experiences. Her study of grief, is both terribly sad, and hopeful.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Lloyd Mangnall on October 31, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I stumbled across this book at the library, threw it in my basket and assumed I would read a few pages before getting bored or turned off. (I've found that a lot of grief books tend to be too 'textbook' or too 'religious', or just way too sappy.)

However, once I started this book I couldn't put it down, and I was upset when it was done, as I wanted to read more!

My younger brother died 2 years ago, and my father died a year ago. Almost 8 years ago, I gave birth to twins - one of who died at age 8 months.

Raeburn has a wonderful way of putting into words so much of what I have been feeling over the years regarding these losses - and how these losses have shaped the person I am now. I can't begin to tell you how nice it was to read that others had the same thoughts and fears as I do.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By K. Mulherin on October 28, 2004
Format: Hardcover
I picked this book up at the local library and could not put it down. I have also survived the loss of a sibling and could relate in every word that Ms. Raebern wrote. It seems that all who lose siblings at any age have a common thread and this book will help others who have not experienced this type of loss to understand our feelings and way of living after surviving a tragedy such as losing a sibling. I give Ms. Raebern more than 5 stars for understanding what it was that I went through and still live so many years later.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By KCP on October 22, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Wow! DeVita-Raeburn does an excellent job of depicting the feelings of loss shared by a sibling after the death of their brother or sister. I have read a great deal of sibling loss books since the death of my brother, and none have echoed my feelings more clearly. It is written with incredible insight and courage, and is a must read for anyone who has suffered the loss of a sibling, or knows someone who has.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Deborah on June 11, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
My life changed forever in January 2008 when my brother passed away. He was my best friend and my only sibling. It has been almost three and a half years, and it feels like it was yesterday. I first purchased this book in 2009. After I had read 9 pages, I put the book down and emailed Elizabeth DeVita-Raeburn, the author. For the first time, SOMEONE understood how I felt! I read this book all the time, just because it's contents comfort me. It is written by someone who knows about loss. I recently purchased a second copy for a dear friend of mine who just lost her sister. By the way, my email to the author? She emailed me back! Beautiful book written by a beautiful person.
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