When A Friend Dies
By: Marilyn E. Gootman, Ed.D.
Reviewed By: Jon Henshaw, M.A.
In When a Friend Dies, Michael Stipe of R.E.M., welcomes the reader, and sets the tone of the book with his forwarding message. In it, he writes:
When a Friend Dies is a book about acceptance and compassion. Accepting the sadness, confusion, and pain we experience with loss is as important as healing and moving forward. Showing compassion for yourself is about letting the feelings come and go as they do naturally. There is no right or wrong way to feel when someone dies.
The author, an experienced educator who has seen her own children suffer from the death of a friend, knows what teenagers undergo when they experience a great loss. "I realized that most books written about death and dying don't speak directly to teenagers -- they speak about them. I wanted to change that." She writes out of her own experience, with love and an authentic desire to help young people cope and heal.
The book has a simple and to the point format. Teens won't find the book overwhelming or intimidating. The chapters are made up of short questions that most teens ask after a friend has died. Those questions include:
- How can I stand the pain?
- Why can't I feel anything?
- How long will this last?
- Is it wrong to go to parties and have fun?
- How should I be acting?
- Will I be changed?
- What is "normal"?
- What if I hardly knew the person?
- How can I handle my feelings?
- How can I deal with my grief?
- How can I help myself heal?
- What if I can't handle my grief on my own?
- What if my friends start acting strange?
- How can I find a counselor or a therapist?
- How can I tell if a counselor or therapist can help me?
- Will I ever be okay again?
The book isn't designed to be thick and full of filler. Instead, it gets right to the point. Dr. Gootman provides short paragraphs and tips that try to quickly, but compassionately answer teens' most frequent concerns and questions. When a Friend Dies also includes a helpful list of resources and recommended reading at the end of the book.
With advice that is gentle, non-preachy, and compassionate, When a Friend Dies is a must-have resource for teens, parents, teachers, counselors, and all adults.