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 my baby brother was born prematurely and died when I was six. 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 38 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 a blood disorder 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 physician father
Harry collapsed while making a house call in northern Michigan and died of cardiac arrest. Later that same year Michael's sister
Delores died, followed by his mother Beatrice. Soon after our move to Arizona in 1992, both Michael's father
Ralph and my mother Evelyn died. I've learned about the pain and sorrow of losing 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. But when my very special little dog
Muffin died suddenly 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
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 now in its third printing) 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.
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.
My latest booklet,
Explaining the Funeral / Memorial Service to Your Children
(published by Hospice
of the Valley in June 2005), is now available. For
further information or to request a copy, please contact the
Bereavement Office, telephone 602.530.6970, e-mail
Suggestions for Further Reading, I've
listed books by other authors, every one of which I've
reviewed myself and would highly recommend. Included are
Books for Adults,
Books about Pet Loss,
Children and Those Who Love Them. Click on the
underlined title for a detailed description of each.
browse Amazon's most popular selections on grief, loss,
transition, and pet loss, click
on one of the titles listed in the Amazon.com box that appears below.
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 follow the links below and browse through
some of the hundreds of titles available over the
Please note that the titles I've
listed below are those I've read myself, and
personally recommend. For excerpts, reviews
and purchasing information, click on the book's
To browse Amazon's most popular selections on
transition, and pet loss, click
on one of the titles listed in the