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 older sister Delores died unexpectedly, followed by their dear mother Beatrice. Soon after our move to Arizona in 1992, both Michael's wonderful father 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 Articles I've 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 Human 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.  My book, Finding Your Way through Grief: A Guide for the First Year: Second Edition (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 and The Final Farewell: Preparing for and Mourning the Loss of Your Pet

My booklets, 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 link labeled New Online Store.

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, and Helping You and Your Children with Pet LossFor course descriptions and ordering information, click on each of the "Enroll Now" buttons that appear below. 

Under Suggestions for Further Reading, you're invited to browse the titles listed on our Grief Bibliography page.

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Articles by Marty related to Human Loss and Grieving

Articles by Marty related to Pet Loss and Grieving


Read the description and outline for The Final Farewell

Read the description and reviews of Children and Pet Loss

Read the description and outline for Finding Your Way Through Grief

The Final Farewell

Children and Pet Loss:
A Guide for Helping

Finding Your Way Through Grief: A Guide for the First Year

Click the book images or titles under the books for purchasing information 

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by Marty Tousley

The First Year of Grief: Help for the Journey

Have you lost a loved one?
Do you understand the nature of grief and its potential impact
on all aspects of your life: physical, financial, emotional, social and spiritual? Be guided and
supported with
The First Year of Grief:
Help for the Journey

Enroll in this e-course now!

A Different Grief: Coping with Pet Loss

Explore both the myths
and the realities surrounding the experience of pet loss, including why it hurts so much and how it differs
from other losses:

A Different Grief:
Coping with Pet Loss

Enroll in this e-course now!

A Different Grief:  Coping with Pet Loss

Is the loss of a family pet
your child's first encounter
with death? Are you wondering how you might turn this sad and difficult experience into a valuable life lesson for your child? 
This is a guide for  

A Different Grief:
Helping You and Your Children with Pet Loss

Enroll in this e-course now!

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Suggestions 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 children.

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 Internet.   

I'd also 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: Grief Bibliography

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 Amazon.com.

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.

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