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I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One Paperback – May 1, 2008

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I Wasn't Ready to Say Goodbye: Surviving, Coping and Healing After the Sudden Death of a Loved One + Healing After Loss: Daily Meditations For Working Through Grief + How To Go On Living When Someone You Love Dies
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 292 pages
  • Publisher: Sourcebooks; Updated edition (May 1, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1402212216
  • ISBN-13: 978-1402212215
  • Product Dimensions: 0.5 x 5.8 x 8.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 12.8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (209 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #5,513 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

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.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

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.

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Customer Reviews

I was looking for a book for my daughter who lost her 27 year old brother.
Lynette Gaddy
I strongly recommend this book for anyone dealing with grief of the loss of a loved one.
Sharon T.
Many many long nights I would read through this book and still refer to it.

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

60 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Solo Papa on November 1, 2009
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I've been a widower for two years. Over this time, I've read many books on grief. This is the best I've seen. It does a comprehensive job of touching on the many types of loss, and offers helpful suggestions for coping. Something I particularly liked was that it doesn't rely on religious platitudes as a solution for grief. Rather, the authors encourage you to vent your anger at your creater - he (or she) is big enough and compassionate enough to take it.

I would suggest this book to anyone who is dealing with grief. It doesn matter whether the loss just occurred, or is several years old.
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59 of 61 people found the following review helpful By Kevin Graves on February 25, 2010
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Buy this book now. One day, you or someone you love deeply will need it. By giving the book to someone who needs it, you will be able to help them when they need it most. By owning the book yourself, you will be able to anticipate the needs of the freshly bereaved. I will be giving this book frequently. This book came a year after my loved one's death, and it was still a huge help. It's a breath of fresh air in the grief genre. How I wish I'd had it when I was going through the first weeks and months. Even this far out, it has helped me immeasurably. I have lost most of my family in the last 20 years. I lost my spouse last year.
PLEASE. Get and read this book, and give copies to the newly bereaved. They will thank you, no, BLESS you for it.
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30 of 30 people found the following review helpful By eve on April 7, 2012
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I lost my husband to suicide, and this book was my very best friend . Very easy to understand, and have read it several times
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By javajunky on August 29, 2011
Format: Paperback
Everyone experiencing the sudden death of a loved one needs to get this book. When I lost my husband of 15 years to sudden cardiac arrest, I had no idea what to do or what was to come. This book helps you every step of the way. It also helps the people close to you to know what to do and what not to do to help you. I wish I had found this book right after my husband died but unfortunately I didn't even know it existed. I came accross this book several months after he died. After reading several chapters I realized Yes, that is how I feel or Ok, so I'm not crazy. It helped me recognize that all of the physical as well as emotional things I was feeling and going through were perfectly normal in this situation. It also helps you recognize if you need to seek professional counseling. Whether you have just experienced the death recently or a while ago, this book will help you wherever you are in your journey to healing.
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By Patricia S. Clark on October 28, 2009
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Thank you so much for a wonderful book. I wish I had found out about this title sooner into my grieving process. 10months ago I lost my best friend, husband, and a wonderful man from Cancer. I have felt like at times that I am going quite mad during the process of grief and to read this book has been a godsend to me. I know now that it is not me going mad but all part of the grieving process. It has allowed me to release a lot of pain and hurt that has been forwarded by "well meaning" friends and relatives. I now more understand how the mind works during this time and it is OK to feel just the way I am. I am not mad, I am not going crazy, I am not putting too many demands on myself or those around me. It is all normal and I am allowed to take my time during the process. Thank you for your words of wisdom and compassion. I would recommend this book to everyone, wether you are grieving or not. One day you may need it for yourself or someone close to you.

Sharon Clark. Melbourne Australia.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Doug DePew on January 25, 2012
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I've struggled for months with what appeared to be a mid-life crisis. In researching how to get through it, I tracked the source down to delayed grief. I lost my brother in 1995 and my dad in 2000 in very similar auto accidents. I don't think I ever grieved them properly and it surfaced in my forties. This book is one of the ones I found to address my particular situation.

This is a well written guidebook to carry anyone through the experience of losing a close loved one suddenly. It contains sections dealing with specific losses such as: a spouse or partner, a sibling, suicide, mass death (such as terrorism), fallen heroes, and others. Each section is thoughtful and helpful. It also has a wonderful portion of the book carrying the reader step by step through the immediate aftermath of sudden death. The back couple chapters are dealing with additional resources and activities to help with grief work.

The authors of this book have both dealt with sudden death themselves. Part of what I found most useful was reading the sections they wrote about their personal situations. I'm still working on the back exercises. I think that will take a while. I wish I'd had this book in 1995 when I lost my brother. Even though my grief was delayed by decades, I am still finding it helpful. Grief is a very individual experience that nobody except the person inside your head will ever understand. These authors have written a resource to help you find your way through that deep, dark forest into the light again. I recommend it to anyone who's experienced a sudden death. I'll keep my copy when I'm finished to hand on to the first person I know who needs it. It helps.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By pattio on October 11, 2012
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I lost my fiancee suddenly on 6/24/12. He was away working when we got the call. I was in a bad place about 2 months after he died because I had been stuffing everything inside. I wanted people to think I was OK, but I wasn't. It hit me out of nowhere and next thing I knew I was on the internet not knowing what I was looking for when the title to this book appeared! It has truly been a lifesaver. It has let me know it is OK to grieve and I don't have to "get over it" as I was told by someone. This book helps to not feel like your going crazy and to let it come out how you need it to. I HIGHLY recommend this book to anyone who has suddenly lost a loved one, it lets you know your not alone and to feel alright about how you feel at any particular time.
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