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The Grieving Garden: Living with the Death of a Child Paperback – April 4, 2008

4.7 out of 5 stars 48 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Grieving parents Redfern and Gilbert, along with 20 others, fill a void in the literature of child loss that both discovered after the death of a daughter; having "devoured every grief-related bit of writing," they found no relief for their escalating isolation: "what I needed wasn't information, but company." Unadorned by "expert" commentary, Redfern and Gilbert address directly the personal experience of living out "a parent's worst fear" with the voices of those who have. Organized by issue (24, in six sections) rather than contributor, it's easy to find a wide variety of perspectives on specific challenges ("Surviving the First Few Days," "Pursuing Counseling," "Encountering the Void" and "Continuing the Connection"). Parents take turns weighing in on each issue in conversational first-person contributions (most solicited in written interviews), occasionally including journal entries, verse and straightforward guidance (especially helpful is the long view provided by Martin Katz, whose son died in 1981). A "More About Us" section provides photos and brief profiles. A variety of backgrounds and circumstances, along with a shared dedication to speak out on a notoriously unspeakable loss, make this brave volume cathartic and comforting; grieving parents may well find it invaluable.
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Review

Verdict: Ultimately, this book shows that comfort, healing, and even growth are possible after the death of a child. This powerfully authentic book is highly recommended for large public libraries and counseling collections.

Background: It s hard to imagine anything worse than the death of a child. Redfern and Gilbert reflect on their own experiences with such a tragedy and recount the stories of 22 other parents whose children died at a variety of ages and from causes ranging from disease and accidents to suicide and terrorism. The authors organize the interviews in a way that mirrors the stages of the grieving process, including immediate reactions, seeking support, effects on family life and relationships, integrating the loss into one s life, and maintaining connections with a loved one. Simple words, carefully edited, convey eloquent and practical insights into the bereavement experience. Grieving, it is suggested, is not an orderly process; survivors often face family disruption and career malaise. Professional help may or may not be helpful. Several complain about the inane, inappropriate things people said to them upon their loss.

--Antoinette M. Brinkman, M.L.S., Evansville, IN, Library Journal<br /><br />Grieving parents Redfern and Gilbert, along with 20 others, fill a void in the literature of child loss that both discovered after the death of a daughter; having "devoured every grief-related bit of writing," they found no relief for their escalating isolation: "what I needed wasn t information, but company." Unadorned by "expert" commentary, Redfern and Gilbert address directly the personal experience of living out "a parent s worst fear"with the voices of those who have. Organized by issue (24, in six sections) rather than contributor, it s easy to find a wide variety of perspectives on specific challenges ("urviving the First Few Days," "Pursuing Counseling," "Encountering the Void" and "Continuing the Connection"). Parents take turns weighing in on each issue in conversational first-person contributions (most solicited in written interviews), occasionally including journal entries, verse and straightforward guidance (especially helpful is the long view provided by Martin Katz, whose son died in 1981). A "More About Us" section provides photos and brief profiles. A variety of backgrounds and circumstances, along with a shared dedication to speak out on a notoriously unspeakable loss, make this brave volume cathartic and comforting; grieving parents may well find it invaluable. (Apr.) --Starred online review, Publishers Weekly<br /><br />

"A fearless, compelling, and ultimately healing glimpse into the heart of love and loss."--Isabel Allende, author of The House of the Spirits

"If you have never lost a child, pray that it never happens to you. If you have, The Grieving Garden touches on the pertinent questions and issues. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Each person must find the way that makes sense and works for them, in a situation that makes no sense. Losing a child is nine parts unthinkably horrible, and one part gift. The secret to surviving it is finding the gift. One is never the same, but one has the choice of becoming bigger, deeper, more. The Grieving Garden lights the path to surviving and becoming more." Danielle Steel (Her son Nick Traina committed suicide at 19, after a lifetime of bipolar illness. He was a successful musician and lyricist, and lead singer of a band. Her book about him, His Bright Light, tells the story of his life and death.)

" --Endorsements

Grieving parents Redfern and Gilbert, along with 20 others, fill a void in the literature of child loss that both discovered after the death of a daughter; having "devoured every grief-related bit of writing," they found no relief for their escalating isolation: "what I needed wasn t information, but company." Unadorned by "expert" commentary, Redfern and Gilbert address directly the personal experience of living out "a parent s worst fear"with the voices of those who have. Organized by issue (24, in six sections) rather than contributor, it s easy to find a wide variety of perspectives on specific challenges ("urviving the First Few Days," "Pursuing Counseling," "Encountering the Void" and "Continuing the Connection"). Parents take turns weighing in on each issue in conversational first-person contributions (most solicited in written interviews), occasionally including journal entries, verse and straightforward guidance (especially helpful is the long view provided by Martin Katz, whose son died in 1981). A "More About Us" section provides photos and brief profiles. A variety of backgrounds and circumstances, along with a shared dedication to speak out on a notoriously unspeakable loss, make this brave volume cathartic and comforting; grieving parents may well find it invaluable. (Apr.) --Starred online review, Publishers Weekly

"A fearless, compelling, and ultimately healing glimpse into the heart of love and loss."--Isabel Allende, author of The House of the Spirits

"If you have never lost a child, pray that it never happens to you. If you have, The Grieving Garden touches on the pertinent questions and issues. There is no right or wrong way to grieve. Each person must find the way that makes sense and works for them, in a situation that makes no sense. Losing a child is nine parts unthinkably horrible, and one part gift. The secret to surviving it is finding the gift. One is never the same, but one has the choice of becoming bigger, deeper, more. The Grieving Garden lights the path to surviving and becoming more." Danielle Steel (Her son Nick Traina committed suicide at 19, after a lifetime of bipolar illness. He was a successful musician and lyricist, and lead singer of a band. Her book about him, His Bright Light, tells the story of his life and death.)

"When the unthinkable happens, most of us long for a community of people who understand what we re going through. When that unthinkable event is the death of a child, we look for reassurance that we can still go on to lead meaningful lives. This book provides such a community, in the candid conversations of others who ve been there. Though they pull no punches, the ultimate effect is life-affirming. I recommend it highly to all bereaved parents and to anyone who cares about them." Eleanor Coppola, artist, filmmaker, author of Notes on a Life, and bereaved mother

"This searingly poignant volume uses the words of bereaved parents to bring to life every parent s worst nightmare, the loss of a child. Thoughtfully organized to be of practical use and comfort to those facing such tragedies (or those who would help them), it is a unique contribution and will be of immeasurable value and consolation. Should be in the library of all who might encounter bereaved parents."--John Ruark, MD, author, Dying Dignified: the Health Professional's Guide to Care

--Endorsements
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hampton Roads Publishing; 1 edition (April 4, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1571745815
  • ISBN-13: 978-1571745811
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.8 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (48 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #134,249 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Sandie Zander on May 14, 2008
Format: Paperback
I bought this book to preview before giving it to a dear friend who had just lost a daughter to cancer before deciding if I should pass it along to her. I read it in one night and found it captivating, sensitive, practical, and inspiring. It presented issues, and possible suggestions to solutions for those issues, which I never would have even anticipated. My friend will now be able to anticipate the shock of the first time someone asks her "So how many children do you have?" and she will know that her feelings of overprotection for her remaining daughter are normal and to be expected. This book will also help her to know that eventually, she will see a tiny light at the end of this very deep tunnel in which she now exists, and that in time, that light will brighten. This book inspires those who grieve to learn that the human spirit can indeed face a new day while at the same time honoring the memory of those we will always hold dear.
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My 18 year old son died suddenly 10 months ago. I have read many, many grief books since my world shattered. I found this book very helpful. Hearing from 22 other parents and how they dealt with their horrific loss somehow helped me deal with mine.
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The twenty two parents who contributed their stories to this book have given a precious gift to the world. Their stories of how they survived the loss of their child is like holding 22 fragile hearts who have been pulled through the fire by the worst fate that can befall a parent. Each of them digs deeply, courageously and honestly into their memories and feelings.

I cried as I was reading this book. I cried for the parents' loss; I cried in admiration for their courage. I cried in gratitude that I was not one of the twenty two parents.

Life is fragile and destiny is uncertain. To the community of parents who are faced with this life-altering tragedy, this book will be a comforting, spiritual and practical guide that they are not alone on their journey.

To those of us who know a parent who suffers from the death of a child, we have been given new insight into how to comfort them. We should also get them this book.

To those of us who pray never to suffer the loss of a child, now, right now, tell your child how much you love them. You can give them and yourself no greater gift.

What courage and love it took for the authors to pull this book together!
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As a mother who is learning to live with the death of her son and as an experienced psychotherapist, I have found this book to be profoundly wise and comforting. Like a rich garden, this is a book that can be visited often, for either brief,energizing and inspiring moments, or for longer and more focused "working" interludes that generate deep reflection. You can "walk" this Garden at your own pace and follow your own path,or refer to the "map" offered by the editors of the book, who know the grieving process through their own heartbreaking experiences. 22 parents share 22 unique stories, organized around the poignant themes and questions so familiar to all grieving parents at different points in their journeys, from surviving the first few days to reaching out to others many years later.I shall keep this book in close reach and share it with many other parents whose hearts have been broken by unspeakable losses.
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So many grief books ask parents to go to a place of acceptance and gratitude - long before they are ready. At least that was (and is!) true for me. This book tells it like it, this path of agony, is: challenging, painful, relentless, and far longer than anyone thinks. I especially appreciated the perspective of older parents, of which I am one, and parents who have one or no other children, without the possibility or choice to have another. The wisdom, the honesty, the application to my life....it took my breath away.

Nancy Levin, Ph.D.
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Losing a child is undoubtedly the single worst thing that can befall any parent. "The Grieving Garden" includes the stories of 22 bereaved parents who explore the impact of this tragedy on their lives and it touches on 24 issues which are common to many of them.

Gilbert and Redfern have included a diverse group of men and women who have lost a child to accident, disease, murder, and suicide. The parents' perspective is presented in their own words without analysis or interpretation.

The Grieving Garden demonstrates several commonalities of the parents' responses to this tragedy: sadness, of course, but also a tremendous sense of isolation. Friends and relatives simply don't know what to say; the ones who seem to understand best and provide comfort are the people who have experienced a similar loss. For that reason, this book is a must-read for any parent who has lost a child and for anyone who knows someone who has lost a child.
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After my daughter died, and then another shocking death of my grand-daughter, not only did I feel shut out of the world, but confused that my grief seemed so private. I felt so disconnected from the world. This amazing book helped me realize that we all grieve differently. There is no right or wrong way. I understood my feelings after reading the insightful and varied reactions by the wonderful writers of "The Grieving Garden". Thank you for settling my soul.

Reviewed by Marilyn Doak, Sent by David Lake
Green Valley, Arizona
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