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I Can't Stop Crying

It's So Hard When Someone You Love Dies

By John D. Martin and Frank Ferris, MD
Foreword by Robert Buckman, MD, PhD
Published by Key Porter Books
Publication date: September, 1992
116 pp.
ISBN: 1550134078 (paperback)


This book was written for individuals who are recently bereaved of someone very close to them -- typically a partner, though the book has very wide application as a general bereavement resource. A narrator guides the flow as over 50 people tell their stories as examples for the reader to relate to.

The key messages is that it's normal to be feeling bad, and that healing will come if you find safe ways to experience your emotions. Down-to-earth examples show how grief affects many areas of daily life, relationships with others, and hopes for the future. Practical tips in plain language are organized for easy reading.

Overall, it's a good introductory resource and we recommend it for wide distribution among general grieving populations in Western cultures. The Toronto Metro Ambulance Service gives copies of the book to any victim of a sudden tragedy or a sudden loss, as well as giving complimentary copies to local Emergency Room physicians and nurses they work with on a frequent basis.

The narrator speaks directly to the reader as if the author were providing supportive counsel to a visitor. This brief quote will give the flavor of the narrative approach:

Sample Text

You may become angry with those close to you. Friends and family members usually want to help, but often end up putting their foot in their mouth. It's very easy to feel patronized by them. Even though they have good intentions, their cliches can make you very angry:
  • "Be thankful for all the good times you had together"
  • "His suffering is over now"
  • "He's gone to a better place"
  • "There will be another special person for you"
  • "It was God's will"
Well-meaning statements like these can cause you to boil. It's often a very fine line between saying nothing and blowing up at people when you hear things that make you angry. My advice is to honest. Acknowledge that you know they are trying to help, but that what they've said causes you pain. By doing so you will let those close to you know how you feel, and be able to release your feelings without necessarily offending anyone. (p. 43)

We recommend the book as a simple overview for the acutely bereaved, but we must point out two failings which limit its effectiveness among some special groups. First, the authors have consciously tried to reach a wide audience by using of the term "partner" to refer to all of the important relationships that people share in life. The Preface says that they intend for the term "partner" to include relationships which often lead to disenfranchised grief such as lesbian and gay partners, common-law relationships, lovers, and intimate friends. Virtually all of the examples given in the book are of spouses, parents, and siblings, however, and there is no significant discussion of dienfranchised grief (i.e., grief which for one reason or another is not recognized or respected by the social group). We wish the book had carried through on the promise of the Preface by including more examples drawn from a more diverse grieving population that included a wider range of relationships.

Second, while the handling of religion and spirituality tries to be inclusive, avoiding specific religious beliefs, the language of the discussion inadvertently marginalizes non-deistic spiritual traditions such as Buddhism and contemporary movements. The two chapters on "God" and "No God" are intended to be inclusive but the polarization of the two terms suggests that the authors write from a deistic viewpoint and are unfamiliar with subtle language issues in comparative religion related to highly spiritual, non-theistic paradigms. This means that the book will be best used among populations that have Judeo-Christian and similar deistic ways of thinking.

Table of Contents

Part One -- Grief: It's So Hard When Someone You Love Dies
Part Two -- The Heart: Recognizing Effects On Your Emotions
Part Three -- The Head: Recognizing Effects On Your Life

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