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The Loss That is Forever: 8The Lifelong Impact of the Early Death of a Mother or Father Hardcover – September 1, 1995


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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

More than 60 men and women who lost a parent at an early age contributed their stories to this investigation of an important life event by a practicing psychotherapist. Their stories?including accounts of some famous figures: C.S. Lewis, Virginia Woolf, Eleanor Roosevelt?shed light on a legacy of loss the author views as "the psychological Great Divide, separating the world into a permanent 'before and after.'" Whatever form the impact of this loss takes in later adult life?it can be rage, driving ambition, fear of intimacy?these life stories amply demonstrate the indelible character of the mark left on the child. These are also stories of recovery, of people who became more than survivors, testifying to the repair of damage from childhood trauma. This enlightening presentation opens up a seldom discussed topic.
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; 1 edition (September 1, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525938699
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525938699
  • Product Dimensions: 1.2 x 6 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (36 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #155,360 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

This book is a must read for anyone who has lost a parent in their childhood.
Jami S.
I don't usually buy books, but I keep this one on the shelf, well dusted and frequently referred to.
K. Mills
The only hard parts are reading, understanding, realizing the loss, and processing through.
Judith Lilley

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

110 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Quaker Annie on July 10, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was looking through books on death and dying, when I saw this book. I ignored it, but kept feeling drawn to it. The title seemed a bit extreme, yet I kept wanting to pick it up. When I started reading, I realized that one of the people it was about was me.
If you have lost a parent as a child, please read this book. It is not a self-help book - but it leads to healing by acknowledging that the loss of a parent is a major event in the life of a child, changing that child's view of the world and affecting his or her life into adulthood. Like attending a 12 step program, and feeling instantly at home, this book opens doors to a community of like-minded souls.
Our culture used to minimize the effects the death of a parent has on a child. While adults grieved in their own healthy or unhealthy ways, children were often ignored, sent off to relatives, cut off from one-side of the family and often introduced to a new, substitute parent and expected to never talk about the parent they lost.
My own father died a sudden, fairly publicized death when I was 17 and my sister was 11. I've been painfully aware that there was one life before he died, and another one after, as clean a break as you could make cutting a thick rope with a sharp knife. But no one else - aside from therapists - seemed willing to talk about it. With children, it is important that the grieving process not be ignored or minimized, for how they process their grief will have a lasting effect on how they live their own lives.
While reading the stories in this book, I felt deeply saddened and warmly comforted. The book validated what I have known to the core of my heart for a long time. The death of a parent makes a hole that lasts forever.
Now, that hole isn't dark and deep forever.
Read more ›
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on July 9, 1998
Format: Paperback
I lost my father in a car accident in 1981 when I was only 13 years old. He passed instantly at the scene in a very catastrophic auto/commercial truck pile up.
This book helped me understand that the emotional roller coaster that I had been on for years was totally normal.
My parents had me late in life when they were 42 and 43. I was extremely close to my father and in fact I completely worshiped him.
I grew up in a family that did not grieve heathily and it was difficult for me that at one moment we all (there were 4 siblings) had a wonderful father that we were all blessed to have had and the next moment he just wasn't talked about. It was like our whole family went into a shock and denial of the accident and of our loss. We still in 1998 don't talk about it much and I still miss him terribly. I have many fond memories as a child of vacations and trips that I took with my father that I will cherish forever. Thanks Maxine for such beautiful insight. I can not tell you what it has meant to me.
You, in fact have inspired me to write a book about my loss. I still think about it everyday. There is not a day that goes by that I do not think about the fact that I would give up everything I have, everything I am, everything I have accomplished to have him back in my life again.
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47 of 50 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on March 9, 1999
Format: Paperback
There is no word describing people who lost a parent at an early age -- but this book makes clear that such a loss is truly forever. This will be reassuring for some. The authro describes the multiple impacts of such a loss. In general, because a child is totally unprepared for the death of a parent, and the parent represents the whole world to the child, this loss is far more grievous than losing a parent when one is an adult. Indeed, it can be compared to the loss of an entire family or community that is only suffered by persons who are victims of genocide or war. Yet others, who do not know of this type of loss, will never understand its magnitude. The message of the book is that one can be orphaned even if just oneparent dies, because frequently the other will be devastated, or will move away.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 28, 2000
Format: Paperback
I lost both parents to cancer - my mother when I was nine and my father just 2 years later.
I can tell you first hand that this book is an accurate reflection of what that experience was like for me.
It is not an academic book with theories and speculations by those who have not been there - rather, it is a book of interviews of adults describing their experiences as a child. Because of this, the feeling is undeniably authentic.
It will help spouses and others in relationships with orphans.
A must read!
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17 of 17 people found the following review helpful By K. Mills on August 14, 2003
Format: Paperback
Everyone knows that loosing a parent will cause life-long grief, this book enlightens the reader to the life long habits and thinking patterns that occur. It's a blueprint to understanding yourself if you've lost a parent as a child. I can't recommend it enough.
I thought I had self actualized and knew myself very well until I read this book. I lost my father when I was six.
Everything I have become and all of the choices I've made have had something to do with that. I had no idea.
Then I read this book that described me so well. I don't usually buy books, but I keep this one on the shelf, well dusted and frequently referred to.
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14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By debussy on July 15, 2005
Format: Paperback
This book was a life-saver for me some 10 years ago when my husband, at age 40, died from cancer. We had two children - ages 5-1/2 and 20 months at the time - and this book helped me empathize with their plight and grief at their daddy's death.

As hard as his death was for me personally, I understood after reading this book that the experience was at the time -- and would be in the future -- far harder for them. It let me shift focus away from myself and to something far more important -- helping guide their little hearts and minds into stable, secure and productive adulthoods.
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