Book Reviews

Empowerment For Grief

What will empower YOU to jump back into life? 

We share our love to help you find the way to

Heal your Heart, Find Peace,

and Allow Joy back into your life.

One way to find strength is through learning about other’s journeys.

I share my journey thru my two son’s deaths with you.

I felt so very alone through much of my grief, as I lived it pre-internet. I share my story below, wrote over 30 years ago, as a young woman struggling through my grief the only way I knew how. During my second journey with child loss, I personally didn’t know anyone with multiple child loss, I just knew the painful days ahead. Now with the web there is so much support and help to find! We only have to open our eyes and look.

A Grief Support Guidebook!

Nobody wants to talk about death or illness.

Are you emotionally prepared to help others?

Becoming Bigger Than Our Pain is more than just a self-help book and unlike any other book on grieving you’ll find in your local bookstore. It’s about how to help others who are dealing with a life threatening situation or death of a loved one. It is a guide on what to say and do to help others in that situation, and also what not to do.

This book is based on the experiences of the Author, not an autobiography, but a peek into the pain of losing two children in very different ways. She lost her first son in a car accident, and then 8 years later her fourth son to cancer. Sandy Brosam gently guides the reader through the do’s and don’ts and explains briefly why.

Becoming Bigger Than Our Pain tells the emotional story of losing a child, then presents suggestions and ideas for helping others who may be experiencing a life threatening situation or death of a loved one.

Written from the heart with total candor this book empowers others to reach down into their souls and find the strength to help themselves and others. Augmented with letters of love from readers of the first edition and poems for solace, this enlightening guide demonstrates that pain is often beyond words, but never beyond love.

Grief Support Through Encouragement and Empowerment.

Although this book was born from the pain of child loss, it is about grief support from any loss. We grieve differently from a loss of a friend, sibling, parent, relative, child, or pet. We are each individuals in our grief journey, but truly grief is grief. I give suggestions for supporting someone grieving a loss. There is no tape measure for pain, and my child loss is different from my pet loss, although after 15 years my dog was as much a family member as the rest of us. They both hurt my heart, in different ways, there is no comparison, it is the pain of grief. One loss is more painful, and harder to recover from, but in the end they are both part of my grief journey.

This guide that not only tells you what to say and do for others, it empowers you to become bigger than your own pain.

Contained within the pages of this book is a guide in what to say and do to help those who are coping with a life threatening situation or death of a loved one. The guide comes from the loss of 2 of my sons. I included my journey through the pain, to bring encouragement and empowerment to others as they travel the grief road with me.

My intent was to gently guide the reader into the world of grief to get a better understanding of how to help those going through the process. And I do that, but I have also found that many grieving have gained strength and courage from reading my story. I tell of my journey through the pain, and the pot holes I fell into along the pathway.

Someday you, or someone you know may have their life ripped apart by grief…

What do you say and do to help them?

Let my guide empower you to help them, and help yourself.

Below are book reviews, comments and a preview:
Becoming Bigger Than Our Pain – Thru Love & Courage

Sandy, Just got done reading your book. It really had an impact on my personal journey thru grief. Your story & your insightfulness should be shared by every, & any means possible. You definitely have a calling upon your life. Follow your heart. And I pray that God s blessings abound toward you in all that you do. Thank you for sharing. ~Teresa

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Thank you so much for sharing the book with me. It was a very touching book. It brought tears to my eyes through most of it, but it is exactly how I’m feeling and no one else seems to understand me not even family. Losing my daughter was like a tragic accident that was unexpected cause there were no signs or warnings for her… being sick. I’ve brought her to doctors and not one doctor found any infection in her blood. It’s just a sad and horrific thing to go through. I will share your book with my friends so they can try to understand the pain I’m going through and it will give them some tips on how to help me and say the right things. If you’ve written anything else I’d love to read it. Thanks again HUGS ~Allison

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Sometimes the Universe/God has other plans, and the timing has to be right… I mailed out two books to Andrea, after she told me she tried to order one from Amazon (we are having huge issues with them), one was returned, refused (huh?) so I shipped out another, and she did finally get that one. But in the process I sent her my email support packet and the electronic version of the book, and called her and we became friends in grief. Here is her comment below ~ Sandy

Yes I did get the email and have been reading it, one of the pages actually got me through a bad day last week, thank u very much. Don’t really know whats going on with the mail, but I’m sure you will figure it out…    I got the book this morning!! Thank you ~Andrea

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Hi Sandy –  I just received my book. I am looking forward to reading it I hope it helps us, it’s going to be 9 months that our son passed away. Thank you I wish I could be as strong as some of you ladies I truly admire you. ~Milly

Sandy’s reply: Thank you for letting me know you got your book! And strength comes with time, none of us are very strong in the beginning. Grief is a lifelong journey of learning who we are and what we can become. My life is nowhere close to what I imagined it would be. What will help you the most is to remember the love. Replace all the painful memories with loving ones. Once you acknowledge the pain, release it with your tears and let it go. The first time I held onto that pain for 4 long years before I even tried to release it. It had become a part of me, who was I without it. I am a grieving mother who has more good days than bad days, and chose to smile because I had my son’s love for a short while here on earth, but forever in my heart.

You will get there too, baby steps! ~Sandy

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I thank you and I am already on page 45 you are so right people ask you the stupidest questions and they are so rude and hurtful! It will be 9 months this coming Friday for us. There isn’t a moment of the day that I do not think about my so…n. My heart aches in pain and I feel guilty because I heard him snoring and I could not distinguish the weird snore he was making and I went to work and when my husband went to wake him up to take him to the orthopedic because he had, had surgery on his right knee he had passed away.

He was a great son, brother, father and friend his brother has his portrait tattooed on his hand and my husband has it on his chest. I hope I learn from your book. Thanks ~Milly

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Hi Sandy,
Just wanted to let you know I devoured your book in 3 hours! I couldn’t put it down. We were on our way to Lincoln Ne to visit family and I started reading it before we even got on the Interstate. I passed it on to my Mother once I got to her house. She lost my 30 yr old brother to suicide 14 years ago and I really thought your book would give her some comfort as it did me. I told her to pass it onto my sister when she was done, but to make sure I got it back as the Author signed it to me…lol My sister lost one of her twin sons in the hospital due to being born premature and contracting a staff infection while in the neo-nato unit when he was only about a month old. Our family has lost way too many loved ones unfortunately!
Thank you for writing this book, Sandy! It is a Godsend! God Bless you… ~Mare

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Hi Sandy, Yes your book helped me very much. Even tho I lost my son I still found that there were things in your book that I have said to others when they have had a loss. I think it’s just not knowing what to say at a time like that is why, but now after reading your bookI will stop and think before I speak. Your book also gave me an insight to children with cancer and what a family truly has to deal with. I know that what you wrote about is only a touch of what these families go thru, but never having to see this I really had no idea! Thanks, Sandy for sharing your experiences. I can only imagine how hard it must have been to write this book, but it really is a Godsend! Good luck with your support website! ♥ Mare ♥

Sandy, I talked with you at Hastings in Greenville on Saturday, July 10th. The book is Great, and has touched my heart. Thank you for taking the time to talk to us. ~Dianne

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I loved your book (couldn’t put it down and read it in about 3 hours), it was very informative and heartwarming…especially the end when your sweet son got to go to the zoo and see the little owl…I was sobbing! I just got word that my aunt who has been battling cancer for 10 years is in hospice care and may not make it through the night…she has a 17 year old daughter. I tell you what, life sure has a way throwing some pretty serious curve balls, especially when you least expect it.

Take care and thank you for writing such a wonderful book!
You’re an amazing person! ~Melissa

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Hi Nicki,
Have you read my book yet? Just wondering what you thought about it? Hugs, ~Sandy

Yes. It was very good. I read it all at once, the day it was received. What a task for you – horribly painful, yet perhaps therapy too. I can not fathom your pain. I can however relate and understand some of the experiences on some degree. It is so true that we all may cope and experience things differently. What works for one may not for another. I noticed some things you found a comfort, I found to be the very opposite. I do not recall what I may have told you, but we lived in the hospital for six months. In another state. All horrific suffering after an accident. Twenty torturous surgeries…

Thank you so much for sharing with the group. There are just no words adequate, to express understanding toward you; in all that you have endured. In ways, perhaps I may understand to some degree, but truly cannot fathom “your” pain. Hugs, I can return.
Your site is beautiful. ~Nicki

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Sandy – thank you so much for your sharing at our Bereaved Parents Gathering. I wish you’d had two hours instead of one. God bless you as you spread your word. You are an amazing woman! ~Jo

Received my copy of your book this afternoon…..looking forward to a quiet weekend of reading. ~Joyce


Below are comments and reviews on the 1989 edition:

Love & Courage – Becoming Bigger Than Our Pain

The new edition published in 2010 is now called:

Becoming Bigger Than Our Pain – Thru Love & Courage

The second edition has added content, letters of love, and poems.

“In her book, Sandy echoes the pain and feelings of all mothers who have lost a child. Her account of emotions from Brandon’s diagnosis, treatment and death may be heart wrenching to some, but accurate to those of us who have lost a child. Friends and family will find Sandy’s list of “do’s and don’ts” a helpful guide, while grieving parents will relate to the realism of the emotional gamut she conveys.” ~Deb Jones, Founder
Spokane Chapter
Washington State Candlelighters
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Sandy does a superb job in conveying her deepest emotions. In this book she gives us an idea of what it would be like to suffer the loss of a child. Sandy truly has become “Bigger Than Her Pain”.
~Michael Pond
Wish Chairman (1989)
Spokane Chapter Make-A-Wish
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“Learning that someone you know has a child with a life threatening illness or has a child die, often leaves us hurting for them, but not knowing how to express those feelings. Sandy offers some practical suggestions for all of us who are grieving and struggling to reach out in support.”
~Carol Cumpton
Oncology Clinic (1989)
Deaconess Medical Clinic
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Love & Courage is an important book for anyone who wants to understand the feelings of those who are grieving. Sandy gently guides the reader in what to say to someone who has experienced the death of a loved one. Her candor and insight make this a powerful book.
~Terry Carstensen
Vice President (1989)
Washington State Make-A-Wish
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A letter from Terry after reading the second edition, 20 years later.

Dear Sandy, I finally have had some moments of peace and quiet so I could focus on your book…..and your book is WONDERFUL!!  What a gift you have given to so many who are completely confused, stressed and worried about how to comfort a friend who is grieving.  You have helped the families who have to hear the words, and those who try to find the right words.  Your writing reflects your experience and there is no doubt you do know exactly what you’re writing about….thus your recommendations will be taken seriously and will be helpful.  I can only imagine how tough it was to rewrite the book, and I hope it has brought you many good things.  It was courageous and (I imagine) exhausting, but very informative for many.

Today I sent your books to some Make-A-Wish people who hopefully will use it for their volunteer training sessions.  I also sent you a check for the books you sent….and thank you for the charitable discount!  That was very kind and generous of you.

I hope your life is fun, interesting and fulfilling….heaven knows you deserve it!

All the best to you and your family, ~Terry
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Terry and Sandy became friends first through Make-A-Wish as she and her husband Hans helped greatly with making Brandon’s wish a reality; then the friendship continued as Terry helped with the editing of Love & Courage prior to publishing. Terry & Hans shared their love with Sandy’s family in a time of great need, and a love like that must be shared with others by paying it forward! Sandy does this with her new edition of her book.

Preview from Chapter 2:

How to Help

When a grieving parent or loved one is on your mind, there are many things you can do that help to ease the pain, and brighten their days.

You could send a cheerful card, or a funny one. It’s nice to take something out of the mailbox that makes me smile or laugh. Remember to keep your words cheerful. I got so many depressing cards after the funeral that I would dread the mailman. With no insurance I received many, many bills. So that when that occasional card or letter came that would brighten my day, I was very thankful. I do prefer to laugh and smile, rather than to cry.

Don’t totally avoid the parents or loved one. As much as they need their time alone, they also need companionship. They need to do the things they enjoyed before. This will help draw them back into the “world.” If they decline an offer, don’t be discouraged, try again at another time. Sometimes I just did not have the strength to go anywhere, even though I wanted to. There were times when I felt like I could not leave the house and face anyone. There were also times when I felt I could not bear another minute in the house. As I said before, a grieving person’s emotions are on edge and the strangest things can set them off. This does not mean you have to choose every word you say in fear of hurting their feelings, because no matter how careful you are some things will hurt. Don’t panic when this happens; all I ask is the chance to recover my emotions with dignity. A change of subject does nicely.

woman holding baby

© Sandy Brosam 2010