A Message from Marty
Tousley, Bereavement Counselor
As one who's been studying attachment and loss and specializing in bereavement counseling most of my professional life, I'd like to tell you how I came to be interested in the subjects of loss, grief and healing, and what qualifies me to speak to you about them in a way that I hope will be meaningful and helpful to you.
Having experienced, struggled with and come to terms with my own particular share of "necessary losses" over the years, I've come to realize that those losses have taught me some of life's most valuable lessons.
One of my earliest memories was seeing my mother's reaction to the news that her father had died. I was four years old at the time, and my beloved Grandpa had been my only living grandparent. I remember too how heartbroken my parents were when
two years after that, my baby brother Timothy was born prematurely and died. I learned very early on that no matter how much I may have wished it otherwise, death was part of living in this world, and it could happen to the very young as well as the very old.
At the age of five I was diagnosed with progressive curvature of the spine. Just as I was entering my teenage years, I underwent extensive spinal surgery that left me flat on my back in a body cast for eight months, homebound and separated from my eighth-grade classmates. Barely two years later I shattered my knee in a horseback-riding accident and spent three months hospitalized with my leg in traction, once again separated from my classmates and missing the second half of my sophomore year in high school. I've learned some things about loss of body image, loss of relationships and loss of freedom.
As an adult I've gone through more than a dozen operations to
surgically correct or alleviate various problems with my bones and
joints. I've learned about aches and pains, loss of physical
strength and mobility, and loss of independence.
Since I chose to place the demands of my husband's career ahead of my own, in our
45 years together I've moved many times, each time having to up-root and re-establish myself personally and professionally in several different states. I've learned about the difficulties of leaving comfortable homes and familiar neighborhoods, and the sadness of saying goodbye to family, friends, colleagues and positions I have loved. I've learned about losing the pride and comfort of being known, respected and valued in my work, and the challenges of having to start all over again.
My husband Michael and I were just out of college when we married in 1965. Less than two years later we were mourning the unexpected death of our second son,
David, who succumbed to an RH incompatibility when he was barely three days old. A few months later
Walter, one of our nearest and dearest friends, suffered a heart attack and died. Two years after we moved our young family to New Jersey in 1976, my
beloved physician father
Harry collapsed while making a house call in northern Michigan and died of cardiac arrest. Later that same year Michael's
Delores died unexpectedly, followed by their dear mother Beatrice. Soon after our move to Arizona in 1992, both Michael's
Ralph and my precious mother Evelyn were taken by death as well. I've learned about the pain and sorrow of losing
cherished loved ones to death.
An animal lover all my life, I've loved and lost in every way imaginable every pet I've ever had,
through relinquishment, disappearance or death. But when my very special little dog
Muffin died suddenly after being hit by a car in 1986, I was absolutely devastated, and totally unprepared for the intensity of my reaction to losing him. I've learned about the important roles that animals play in our lives, how we can become so attached to them, and why it hurts so much when we lose them. I've learned about the pain of losing treasured animal companions.
In my work with bereaved individuals, families and groups, I have witnessed over and over again the triumph of survivors over their deepest sorrow, suffering and pain. I have seen them experience profound moments of healing and growth. I've learned about surviving and transcending grief.
I've learned that losing someone or something we love can remind us not only how fragile and temporary life is, but also how important it is to appreciate what we do have: life, health, family, friends and loved ones. And I've learned that the difficult process of healing through loss can leave us with greater emotional strength and self- reliance, and a greater awareness of what really matters in life.
In the drop-down lists that appear below, you'll find a collection of
written, both on
Human Loss and Grieving and on
Pet Loss and Grieving.
Please take some time to browse through the various topics I've discussed, and read whatever is of interest to you.
(See also the Articles by Marty categories on my
Loss Links and
Pet Loss Links
pages.) If you have suggestions or a question you would like me to address,
please let me know by writing to me at
Below you'll also find descriptions of the
Books I've written,
along with outlines and ordering information for each.
Finding Your Way through Grief: A Guide for the First Year:
(published by Hospice of the
Valley in 1999, revised in 2000,
and newly released in November, 2008 as a second edition) is my effort to put in writing what I've learned about loss, grief and healing. I've also written a number of articles and books on coping with pet loss, including
Children and Pet Loss: A Guide for Helping
The Final Farewell: Preparing for and Mourning the Loss of Your Pet.
Explaining the Funeral / Memorial Service to Your Children
(2005) and Helping Another in Grief (revised
in 2011) are available from Hospice
of the Valley. For further information or to request a
copy of either booklet, go to HOV's home page and click on the
As a content provider for
Self Healing Expressions, I've written three on-line
E-mail Courses on Grief:
The First Year of Grief: Help for the Journey,
A Different Grief: Coping with Pet Loss,
Helping You and Your Children with Pet Loss. For course
descriptions and ordering information, click on each of the
"Enroll Now" buttons that appear below.
Suggestions for Further Reading,
you're invited to browse the
titles listed on our
Grief Bibliography page.
for Further Reading
It has been said that every grief needs a
thousand tellings. When we are stricken with
grief over the loss of someone we love, whether
that is a special person in our lives or a
cherished companion animal, we each will have our
own stories to tell, as well as a need to know the
stories of others.
Whether written by experts in
grief intervention or just ordinary people who've
found their own way through grief, nowadays there
are literally dozens of excellent books on
bereavement and loss, and they are readily
available to all of us.
To better understand
death and dying in general (and pet loss in
particular), teachers, helpers, parents and
children can also find and read a vast assortment
of stories and books written especially for
These wonderful sources of hope and
healing are as near as the Bereavement section of
your local library or neighborhood bookstore, or
you can browse through
some of the hundreds of titles available over the
like to share with you an ever-growing list of
books specifically recommended by the bereaved
themselves to their fellow mourners, all of whom
are members of our online Grief Healing
Discussion Groups. You'll find it here:
For your convenience, you can click on any of
the book titles listed on
this page, and you'll be taken directly
to Amazon's description and reviews of each book
on the list. Note that you are under no
obligation to purchase from Amazon, but be
aware that doing so via the links on this page
will help support the maintenance of our Grief
Healing websites. Grief Healing is a participant
in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program,
an affiliate advertising program designed to
provide a means for sites to earn small
advertising fees by advertising and linking to
You will also find many of these titles in your
local public library, or you can ask if your
librarian will order them for you.