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Empty Cradle, Broken Heart: Surviving the Death of Your Baby Paperback – November 1, 2016
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I think the biggest positive reviewI can give for this book is that I'm currently reading it for the second time - I may even read it a third time. I'm finding that as I'm in different places in my grief, I get different things out of the chapters each time I read them. While I pray that others don't find a need for such a book, I can't recommend it strongly enough if you do. Know that you're not alone and that, as awful as it is, you do make it through, day by day.
1. The book I found the most helpful (it has more sticky notes than I care to count right now) was "Empty Cradle, Broken Heart." I found it to be informative, engaging, validating (the author considers nearly every point of view and even uncovered some feelings that I was feeling that I didn't know I was feeling!), and reassuring. The author mentions, right after the preface, to read the book in whatever order you please, and skip the bits you want to skip. I did just that (despite being a rule-follower who reads even the preface and introduction to every book, in order). That was mighty helpful. I do caution, though, to save the last chapter for last. Chapter 17, save for absolute last, because, while not a summary, does tie themes together and provides a sense of closure. I read Chapters 14-16 last and felt compelled to re-read Chapter 17 to get the closure piece.
2. "When a Baby Dies" has exactly 4 sticky notes. It wasn't of much use to me, compared to other books. However, if this is the ONE book you'll read, then it may have "enough" for you. It is written almost like an informative guide, not supplemented by much. It's like the 8th grade version of a reference book. It's the MySpace before there was Facebook.
3. "How to Survive the Loss of a Child” was a startling read. The first chapter drew terrifying hard lines on the frequency of infancy loss. After Chapter 1 I had my guard up for the rest of the book. I put it down and said to my husband, “Well, that was hippy-dippy.” There was discussion of breathing techniques and aromatherapy. It was very “try this to feel better,” which was very practical but I was looking for some sympathy not help. But, after the loss of a child, you’re willing to do just about anything to feel better, so I re-read it and this time let the hippy in me shine. I made precisely 9 stick notes using the standard sticky note practice I’d adopted, but also 14 sticky notes of “techniques to try.” The book was helpful, but not necessarily sympathetic. I have and will continue to employ its techniques. Bottom Line: if you’re going to buy more than one loss book, buy this one and “Empty Cradle, Broken Heart,” and “When Hello Means Goodbye.”
4. “When Hello Means Goodbye” is a guide, not a book. It (was it in the introduction?) even states, “This is not a book.” It’s a collection of sentiments and sympathies for the reader. I read this book first and I’m so very pleased that I did. I read this very close to when Simon was born, and the sympathies felt like they were written for me. The opening includes Dr. Seuss’s “A person’s a person no matter how small.” Like they knew I wanted everyone to validate Simon as a person. I dove right into this book.
5. “How to Survive the Loss of a Child” by Catherine M. Sanders, Ph.D., was not what I needed. It was not written about or for infancy loss (though there is a chapter on it). There’s nothing particularly wrong with the book, it just wasn’t for me. It was meant for mothers who lost their children who were not infants. The author’s son died in his teens, which was the story in Chapter 1. I was not prepared to read a horrific story like that and then worry about my other son’s possible early demise. This book may help some, but I should have put it down after 2 pages. Despite this, I kept reading and gleaned a few things (7 sticky notes). If you’re going to buy a LOT of infant loss books, maybe this would appeal to you.