on July 22, 2006
I've read over a dozen books to help me in my journey through grief, and none are as succinct and clear as Joanne Steen's "Military Widow: A Survival Guide."
The chapters are short, the coverage is excellent, and the "lessons learned" from other military widows stand out. Every word was written with the care of someone who has lived through the pain.
Many of the "lessons learned" in this book can help non-military widows and widowers. It helped me. I believe this book can even help non-widows understand the terrible burden of the military widow.
Part one: "Life and Death in the military," bring us into the diverse lives of widows in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, and the Coast Guard. Military widowhood (and the focus is on the widow) is especially difficult. Joanne understands: "Protecting America does have its price, and for me, it was my husband's life."
Part Two is entitled: "Military grief is complex." It's usually associated with young widowhood, far from family and home towns. The circumstances of military death, when they died for a cause, when bodies are unavailable, when the mission is classified, makes things more difficult. The publicity around the death, as well as the funeral, often forces the military widow into the public eye.
Military widowhood comes without warning. Part Three: "When your husband dies suddenly," contrasts the circumstances of anticipated and sudden deaths. It dispels popular notions on how we should grieve. It encourages us to do the grief work necessary to move forward in the lives we never wanted. It describes how counseling and getting together with other widows can validate our feelings, with the experience of others. Special military grief issues include delays related to deployment.
As described in Part Four, widowhood is "The unplanned trip through living hell." In most cases, connections to your husband's unit change. Children grieve in different ways. Too many people tell us dumb things (and the book includes interesting answers). It addresses some of the "God issues," it provides warnings about inappropriate advances and identity theft.
Part Five, "Difficult decisions," describes the need for financial planning, encourages stability in living arrangements (after base housing), as well as common-sense advice on medals and mementos.
"Everyday coping," the subject of Part Six, examines how to handle significant dates (as well as the time beforehand), widow humor, staying healthy, in-laws, ex-wives and stepchildren, if and when to date again (as well as the reactions of others), how we change, as well as planning for emergencies.
Appendix A includes a list of practical tips for helping the military widow - in the short and long term. Appendix B adds a list of organizations which can help in various ways.
Disclaimer: I've been a widower for just over four years. I've seen Joanne's work with military widows (and other widowed people like myself) first hand. After my Nancy died, she was the first widow who helped me. She has put the best of her wisdom and hard-earned experience in this book.
on August 16, 2006
There is so much good about this book that it is hard to know where to start.
First, I guess, is the fact that this is a book for military widows, written by a military widow. Joanne Steen is the widow of a Navy helicopter pilot whose machine came apart in the air killing everyone on board.
Second, it is published by Naval Institute Press. The US Naval Institute has been around a long time and will remain around. They can (and I hope they will) keep this book available for a long time.
Third, while there is a lot of coverage in the press about the war in Iraq, most military people are killed in ordinary everyday ways. This includes heart attacks, automobile accidents, all the things that kill non-service people.
Fourth, the book covers every aspect you can imagine from the funeral to the kids.
I could go on, but by now you should have the picture. This is a book that every military chaplain, every casualty officer should have, read, study and give copies to the widows. Perhaps two copies, one immediately, and another in a month or so when they have had time to recover a bit.
on July 20, 2011
I first received a copy of this book from a woman (I do not remember who she was) who greeted me as I waited to be escorted to the airfield of Dover Air Force Base. I was there to receive my husband's remains home to American soil and witness the Dignified Transfer. He was killed in Afghanistan in Sept 2010. Barely 24 hours after I received a knock on my door, the title of the book hit me like a ton of bricks.
I have read reviews that mentioned the book would have been helpful during the first days and weeks. Honestly, I do not think any book would be helpful so early. I just cannot imagine being able to sit and read and comprehend during a time when the mind is still spinning from the emotional trauma. But, everyone is different.
I think this book is much better suited at helping others understand what a military widow may be experiencing. Friends, family, CAOs, Rear Detachments, etc. I, however, did not feel I needed to read a bunch of stories about what I was experiencing and how it is "normal". I know what I am experiencing. I do not need to read somebody telling me what I am experiencing.
I gave this book four stars because it is well done and it is a great resource for those hoping to gain insight into the world of a military widow. I did not give it five stars because as a widow I did not find it helpful to read what I already know.
on May 19, 2009
As a retired Navy Captain, and 2-time Casualty Assistance Calls Officer, I read this book in continual head-nodding agreement, and with extraordinary admiration for the authors. There is enough useful information in this slim volume that any Naval officer - any Navy leader - will be remiss if they do not, at least, skim the material. Being aware of this book will make life much easier if/when tragedy does strike.
The diction and grammar make for easy reading, but the content (the 'real, live stuff' not covered in procedural manuals or instruction) requires reflection and study. This information is not available anywhere else; every wardroom, Chief's Mess, and Chaplain need a copy, and it should be provided to every family enduring the loss of a sailor or Marine.
This book is a force-multiplier.
on October 6, 2006
Military Widow: A Survival Guide shows tremendous insight into the challenges a young military widow experiences. I desperately needed this book when my husband, a Navy pilot, was killed in an A-6 crash. Joanne Steen and Regina Asaro give validity to the unspoken thoughts and feelings that many military widows go through. The book gives practical suggestions for dealing with difficult situations and contains great references to survive and manage the months and years after a traumatic loss. In addition to being an unmatched resource for widows, "Military Widow" is a must-read for her family and friends and a practical tool for the professionals working with her.
on April 19, 2011
Military Widow: A Survival Guide, has been by far the most relevant book to read as I have unwantingly trudged through the journey as a new military wife turned widow. I had tried to accomplish my "grief work" through reading other guides and self-help books, only to find that they always left something missing. Nearly seven months after my husband's death in Afghanistan, I picked up the book and read it in two sittings, only because I was interrupted in the first. It is easy to read, and the entire time I was reading it, I felt as if Joanne Steen and M. Regina Asaro were in my head, answering the questions that I was too scared to admit that I had, or confirming the feelings that I had that no other resource had adequately provided. It allowed me to feel less alone in my new world "in between".
I have found that the insight this book provides will also be helpful for the loved ones of a military widow, whether civilian or military, who are trying to support her and navigate the rough waters of military widowhood.
Congratulations, Joanne and Regina, on a resource that is heartfelt, truthful, conscientious, knowledgeable and easy to read, and thank you so much for providing it to us. This book has brought me to an "aha" moment that I didn't think would come, and has provided confirmation and also validation to the feelings that I am having. I know this book will provide that to so many more in the future, when the control is no longer in their hands. It will also provide helpful information to those who wish to support a grieving spouse, or just want to learn more about this path with the hope of never taking it.
on February 15, 2013
I lost my fiance about 3 months ago and i found this book to be very beneficial. It literally explained everything that I had thought or was thinking ..and talked a lot about the things I would start to feel (and it was right on target!)! I would highly recommend this book to any military widow ..after a couple months at least though! Definitely not something to bring the day after and probably not as helpful after a year or more.
on June 26, 2007
I wish I had this book yrs ago when my husband was killed in Iraq 4 yrs ago. It's great. But it's geared to the widow within the first 2 yrs of her grief. But besides that, I still got alot out of book. I would recommand it to other military widows. We are in a different catoragory than other widows and this helps you find your way.
on March 13, 2012
We were very fortunate to have met the author of Military Widow: A Survival Guide. The knowledge, stories and understanding from the first to the last page has been huge in helping cope with the hardest thing we've ever gone through. To read others stories and realize the emotions you're feeling doesn't make you crazy makes things a little easier. The understanding that the author shows through-out the book is reassuring and compassionate. I highly recommend this book - whether you're military or not.
on October 10, 2006
This book is a true blessing for anyone who now has the unwanted title of being a military widow. When my husband was killed in a car accident 6 years ago, I became a military widow at the age of 24 and was left to raise our 2 1/2 month old son outside of the military life that we anticipated and were comfortable in. I began reading countless books about grief and widowhood, trying to find that what I felt was normal. However, there wasn't a book out there that addressed the special circumstances that surround being a military widow. This book addresses those additional issues with straightforward chapters and is full of countless "A-ha! I feel that way too!" moments whether one is reading it 6 days or 6 years after their husband's death. It is also a must read for those who love a military widow or who will be working with her as it can lead them to a greater understanding of what she is feeling. Whenever a military widow questions that she can survive, this book will assure her that she can and guide her through her journey. A job very, very well done!