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July 14, 1998
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v2.1 Reference

After the Death of a Child

Living with Loss through the Years

Named one of the 25 top-rated autobiographies in mental health by Independent Practitioner Magazine

After a child dies, the parent's world changes entirely. Years later, this new world has changed the parents. The exact nature of this change—the long-term effects of the death—illuminates the nature of the bond between parents and children.

Ann Finkbeiner lost her son in a train accident when he was 18. Several years later, she noticed she was feeling better and wondered whether this feeling was what was meant by "recovery." As a science writer, she read the psychological, sociological, and psychiatric research into parental bereavement. And as a bereaved parent, she asked hard questions of thirty parents whose child had died at least five years before, of all causes and at all ages.

In this book, Finkbeiner combines the research and the parents' answers into a description of the parents' new lives. The parents talk about their changed marriages and their changed relationships with their other children, with their friends and relatives. They talk about their attempts to make sense of the death and about their drastically changed priorities. And most important, they talk about how they still love their children, how the child seems to see through their eyes and live through their actions. They move on through their grief, they get on with their lives, but they never let go of their children. Their wisdom is here presented to any in need of it.

About the Author

Ann K. Finkbeiner is an award-winning science journalist and regular contributor to Science, The Sciences, and USA Today and coauthor of The Guide to Living with HIV Infection, also available from Johns Hopkins.


"[W]ritten with warmth, depth, and sensitivity... it will be a comfort to those some way down the road, helping them understand their sorrow and pain, and affirming their own individual way of grieving."

- June Gooch - Newsletter of the Compassionate Friends

"The bravery that Ann Finkbeiner must have had to write this book is incredible... By using her own and other parents' experiences, the author makes the issues speakable, and a sense of peace through connectedness with these parents is conveyed to the reader."

- Marceil Bauman-Bork, MD - Bulletin of the Menninger Clinic

"Find a copy... It will exhaust and replenish you."

- Gary Grant - We Need Not Walk Alone

"Enriching. One is struck by the mysterious power of attachment and love in the parent-child bond."

- Holly Perkins, M.D. - Journal of the American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry

"Like mourning itself, this powerful book, much of it in the words of bereaved parents, evokes a series of reactions... It illustrates the hard fact [of human suffering] but also our resilience."

"The first book to examine the long-term nature of parental grief through the tales of those who suffer it. Although the book includes most current grief research, its authorities are parents."


"This book is just excellent. Ann Finkbeiner has found a way to investigate her own grief and perhaps find some resolution to this difficult task of grieving. Thousands of bereaved parents and professionals will benefit from her work."

- Therese Goodrich, former executive director of The Compassionate Friends, member of Bereaved Parents of USA

"The book is beautifully written and deeply felt... It can be of value for bereaved parents who can by helped by it to understand their pain and sorrow and to understand the different ways fathers and mothers grieve. It should be required reading for professionals who would help bereaved parents and who would understand how deeply invested are parents in their children."

- Robert S. Weiss, University of Massachusetts, Boston

"By focusing on the long-term impact of losing a child, Ann Finkbeiner has raised issues and concerns that are rarely addressed. Her book is thought-provoking, deeply moving, and filled with insight and hope. I recommend it enthusiastically to parents and professionals."

- Camille Wortman, State University of New York at Stony Brook
Johns Hopkins University Press
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9780801859144 : after-the-death-of-a-child-finkbeiner
Paperback / softback
288 Pages
$25.00 USD

Other Titles by Ann K. Finkbeiner

The Guide to Living with HIV Infection, sixth edition

John G. Bartlett, M.D., and Ann K. Finkbeiner
Oct 2006 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$55.00 USD - Hardback
$24.00 USD - Paperback / softback
$24.00 USD - Electronic book text

Other Titles in FAMILY & RELATIONSHIPS / Death, Grief, Bereavement

Dying at Home, third edition

Andrea Sankar - with CM Cassady
Feb 2024 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$27.95 USD - Electronic book text
$27.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$54.95 USD - Hardback

A Gift of Time, second edition

Amy Kuebelbeck and Deborah L. Davis, PhD
Sep 2023 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$29.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$29.95 USD - Electronic book text

Living Well with a Serious Illness

Robin Bennett Kanarek
Apr 2023 - Johns Hopkins University Press
$19.95 USD - Electronic book text
$19.95 USD - Paperback / softback
$49.95 USD - Hardback