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Survivor Outreach Services



SOS Purpose

Our Fallen Warriors have paid the ultimate sacrifice

The Army has a commitment to their Families

Families deserve our respect, gratitude and the very best we can provide

The purpose of SOS is to deliver on that commitment:

  • By providing access to support, information and services
  • Closest  location to where the Survivor resides
  • When and for as long as they desire

 Please Click Here to contact a program staff member for additional information or to provide suggestions as to what you would like to see on this site.



Mission Statement

To Build a unified support program which embraces and reassures Survivors that they are continually linked to the Army Family for as long as they desire.



Presidential Memorial Certificates

Are you, or is someone you know, a loved one of an honorably discharged deceased Veteran? Next of kin and loved ones may receive a Presidential Memorial Certificate (PMC), which is an engraved paper signed by the current President.



MyCAA Fact Sheet for Spouses

Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA)

 

Program Sponsor: Office of the Deputy Under Secretary of Defense for Military; Community & Family Policy (DUSD/MC&FP)

Program Description: The Department of Defense’s expanded Military Spouse Career Advancement Accounts (MyCAA) program will provide up to $4,000 of Financial Assistance for military spouses who are pursuing degree programs, licenses or credentials leading to employment in portable career fields.

Who Is Eligible: Spouses of Active Duty members of the Department of Defense and activated members of the National Guard and Reserve Components are eligible. The period of eligibility for spouses of Guard and Reserve members is from the date of the Alert or Warning Order for Military Recall or Mobilization, through activation and deployment until 180 days following De-Mobilization. Spouses of the severely injured, ill, wounded or killed in action are also eligible.

Military spouses who are legally separated by state law or court order are ineligible. Spouses who are active duty members or activated Guard or Reserve members themselves are ineligible. Coast Guard is not part of the Department of Defense, therefore their spouses are not eligible.

What MyCAA Pays For: MyCAA Financial Assistance (FA) pays for expenses such as education and training programs, tuition, licensing and credentialing fees. This includes degree programs (e.g. associates, bachelors, masters, doctoral and post doctoral), continuing education classes (including those offered through professional associations), Bar, CPA and other similar exams, state certifications for teachers, medical professionals and other licensed professionals. MyCAA does not pay for computers, school application fees, graduation or membership fees, student activity cards, child care, parking, transportation, or medical services. NOTE: If the cost of a course includes books, supplies or other necessary equipment, MyCAA will cover that cost. Payments are made directly to schools using the MyCAA’s electronic payment system. Referrals are made to federally funded English As A Second Language (ESL) Classes and GED Classes and Testing Programs.

How MyCAA Financial Assistance (FA) Works: A military spouse can apply for MyCAA Financial Assistance (FA) after completing a MyCAA Career and Training Plan.

  • A Career and Training Plan includes the spouse’s chosen career field, name of school and course information (course titles, codes, costs and start/end dates). If incorrect information is provided, the MyCAA Financial Assistance (FA) Request will be rejected during the school invoicing process. The spouse will then be responsible for paying course costs.
  • FA Requests are initiated each time the spouse adds specific course start/end dates when it is time to enroll in one or more courses included in the spouse’s Career and Training Plan.
    • It is critical that spouses select the correct school name/campus location and input correct course information into their Career and Training Plan to prevent billing problems. This information should be validated by school officials prior to the spouse applying for MyCAA Financial Assistance (FA).
    • Career and Training Plans may be edited (e.g. courses may be changed or dropped) up to ten days prior to the start date of a course. At that point, the Plan will be approved and locked for billing purposes to guarantee the spouse a seat in the class. Courses may be added up until 7 days past course start dates.
    • Data in the Career and Training Plan is used to validate school bills for payment purposes. Approved courses may be billed by the school at or below stated costs. Schools may charge penalty fees, partial or full course costs for dropped courses according to their published Drop/Add policies. Spouses need to be familiar with these school policies.

How to Get Started: Eligible spouses can establish a MyCAA Account by visiting the MyCAA website ~ https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/mycaa. Setting up an account is an easy, self-help process. Once spouse profile information is provided, MyCAA will verify spouse eligibility. Spouses should check their eligibility and account status regularly as well as their MyCAA account message board for alerts from their account managers and guidance on next steps.

Who Can Help Spouses:

Military spouses can help themselves by:

  • Visiting the MyCAA website https://aiportal.acc.mil/mycaa and establishing an account.
  • Developing a Career and Training Plan and validating information with school officials prior to submitting a Financial Assistance (FA) Request to prevent billing problems.
  • Emailing MyCAA@InvernessTechnologies.com for MyCAA website technical support.

School Academic Advisors can help spouses:

  • Select a school, program of study, licensing and certification exams.
  • Select classes for their MyCAA Career and Training Plan. School officials need to validate that the spouse has entered correct school name/location, course titles, codes, costs and start/end dates to avoid billing problems.

Military OneSource Career/Education Consultants (1-800-342-9647) can help spouses:

  • Explore career interests, evaluate school options and compare programs of study.
  • Develop and implement their Career and Training Plans successfully.

Who Can Help Schools Register for MyCAA: Schools that need MyCAA program information or want to register for the MyCAA electronic billing process may request information and assistance from MyCAASchools@MOSCenter.us. Registration tutorials are online at https://aiportal.acc.af.mil/aiportal/.



Financial Counseling Services

Did you know that, as a Survivor, you may meet with financial planners in your community at no cost to you? There is no limit to the number of sessions that you may have.



A Look Ahead

The American Reinvestment and Recovery Act of 2009 includes expansion of HAP to assist service member and civilian employee homeowners during the mortgage crisis. Among the purposes is to provide HAP benefits to surviving spouses of fallen warriors. The program will offset losses they suffered when they sold their home, purchase the home (pay off their mortgage, or pay enforceable liabilities if they are foreclosed upon. In other words, HAP would enable surviving spouses to relocate without the threat of serious financial loss.

HAP is a DoD program; hence we must await DoD guidance and funding before we assist eligible surviving spouses. 

We are presently drafting implementing policy guidance to ensure an expanded HAP is up and running as soon as DoD guidance and funds are available.  Please keep your eyes and ears open for further information regarding HAP.



Survivor Outreach Services (SOS) Events - Photo Gallery

October 2010 SOS AFAP Conference

2010 AFAP Conference

October 2010 AUSA Family Forum IV -
Caring For Our Survivors

2010 AUSA Conference

August 2010 SOS Training Conference

2010 SOS Training Conference

October 2009 SOS/AUSA Forum

2009 SOS/AUSA Conference



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Bookshelf Resources

Books for Adults

 
Here if You Need Me by Kate Braestrup

From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. It may take ingenuity to interest browsers in a memoir by a middle-aged mother who, 11 years ago, was suddenly widowed, then became a Unitarian-Universalist minister, and now works as chaplain to game wardens in Maine. But good memoir writing does not depend on celebrity or adventure—who'd have thought that a self-confessed recovering neurotic like Anne Lamott or a monastically inclined poet like Kathleen Norris would make it big?—and Braestrup's insightful essays are extraordinarily well written, mingling elements of police procedural and touching love story with trenchant observations about life and death. Alert to comic detail even in grisly circumstances (bears, for example, like to play ball with human skulls), she tells stories of lost children, a suicide, drunken accidents and a murder, always with compassion and a concern for the big questions inescapably provoked by tragic events. Why did Dad die? her children ask, and her response describes not only her theology but also her reason for being a chaplain: Nowhere in scripture does it say 'God is a car accident' or 'God is death.' God is justice and kindness, mercy, and always—always—love. So if you want to know where God is in this or in anything, look for love. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Booklist
Braestrup was an accidental chaplain. Her husband, Drew, a Maine state trooper, died in a car accident at a time when he was considering a second career as an ordained minister. After her shock subsided, Braestrup decided to follow in his footsteps and became a chaplain for the Maine Warden Service, which sets up search-and-rescue missions throughout the state. Practical, unsentimental, straightforward, she is the kind of person who considers a book entitled Death to Dust: What Happens to Dead Bodies? a romantic gift (Drew's to her on her thirty-first birthday). She, not the mortician, bathed and dressed Drew's body. She witnessed its cremation. And, rather anomalously, she, a middle-aged mother of four, works mostly with young men. Her own remarkable story encompasses those of the men and women who work alongside her, incorporating many touching anecdotes, none more moving than that of the state police detective, a breast-feeding mother whose last name is Love, who arrests a sexual predator for a young woman's murder. A poignant, funny book by a sympathetic, likable, immensely appealing figure. Sawyers, June

 

 
A Grief Observed by C.S. Lewis

Amazon.com Review
C.S. Lewis joined the human race when his wife, Joy Gresham, died of cancer. Lewis, the Oxford don whose Christian apologetics make it seem like he's got an answer for everything, experienced crushing doubt for the first time after his wife's tragic death. A Grief Observed contains his epigrammatic reflections on that period: "Your bid--for God or no God, for a good God or the Cosmic Sadist, for eternal life or nonentity--will not be serious if nothing much is staked on it. And you will never discover how serious it was until the stakes are raised horribly high," Lewis writes. "Nothing will shake a man--or at any rate a man like me--out of his merely verbal thinking and his merely notional beliefs. He has to be knocked silly before he comes to his senses. Only torture will bring out the truth. Only under torture does he discover it himself." This is the book that inspired the film Shadowlands, but it is more wrenching, more revelatory, and more real than the movie. It is a beautiful and unflinchingly honest record of how even a stalwart believer can lose all sense of meaning in the universe, and how he can gradually regain his bearings. --Michael Joseph Gross --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review
"A very personal, anguished, luminous little book about the meaning of death, marriage, and religion." -- Publishers Weekly

"I read Lewis for comfort and pleasure many years ago, and a glance into the books revives my old admiratation." -- John Updike

"I read Lewis for comfort and pleasure many years ago, and a glance into the books revives my old admiratation."-- John Updike"A very personal, anguished, luminous little book about the meaning of death, marriage, and religion."-- "Publishers Weekly

 

 
A Severe Mercy by Sheldon Vanauken

Amazon.com Review
A Severe Mercy, by Sheldon Vanauken, is a heart-rending love story described by its author as "the spiritual autobiography of a love rather than of the lovers." Vanauken chronicles the birth of a powerful pagan love borne out of the relationship he shares with his wife, Davy, and describes the growth of their relationship and the dreams that they share. As a symbol of their love, they name their dream schooner the Grey Goose, "for the grey goose, if its mate is killed flies on alone and never takes another."

While studying at Oxford, Sheldon and Davy develop a friendship with C.S. Lewis, under whose influence and with much intellectual scrutiny they accept the Christian doctrine. As their devotion to God intensifies, Sheldon realizes that he is no longer Davy's primary love--God is. Within this discovery begins a brewing jealousy.

Shortly after, Davy acquires a fatal illness. After her death Sheldon embarks on an intense experience of grief, "to find the meaning of it, taste the whole of it ... to learn from sorrow whatever it had to teach." Through painstaking reveries, he comes to discover the meaning of "a mercy as severe as death, a severity as merciful as love." He learns that her death "had these results: It brought me as nothing else could do to know and end my jealously of God. It saved her faith from assault. ...And it saved our love from perishing."

 

 
With You and Without You by Deborah J. Wolf

Written with the poignancy of heartbreak and the indomitable promise of hope, Deborah J. Wolf's unforgettable debut novel delves into the fragile, ever-changing relationships between mothers and daughters in the worst of times - and in the best...Allyson Houlihan had the normal ups and downs with her husband and two daughters, but all in all, their life was good, full, and happy. That changed on the day a tragic accident ripped her husband away from her - and shattered everything. Over a year later, Allyson and her daughters - eleven-year-old Becca and fourteen-year-old Lydia - are still struggling to regain their rhythm as a family. A disciplined and athletic soccer player, Becca is at a loss when an injury forces her to the sidelines, leaving her emotionally adrift. And when Ally senses Lydia, silent and secretive, slipping away, the sense of helplessness and frustration is nearly overwhelming. It will take another of life's unexpected twists and the rock-solid support of her husband's best friend, Michael, for a mother and her girls to finally run towards each other - instead of away - and for a devoted wife to free her heart to live and love again...

 

 
The Year of Magical Thinking by Joan Didion

From Publishers Weekly:
Starred Review. Many will greet this taut, clear-eyed memoir of grief as a long-awaited return to the terrain of Didion's venerated, increasingly rare personal essays. The author of Slouching Towards Bethlehem and 11 other works chronicles the year following the death of her husband, fellow writer John Gregory Dunne, from a massive heart attack on December 30, 2003, while the couple's only daughter, Quintana, lay unconscious in a nearby hospital suffering from pneumonia and septic shock. Dunne and Didion had lived and worked side by side for nearly 40 years, and Dunne's death propelled Didion into a state she calls "magical thinking." "We might expect that we will be prostrate, inconsolable, crazy with loss," she writes. "We do not expect to be literally crazy, cool customers who believe that their husband is about to return and need his shoes." Didion's mourning follows a traditional arc—she describes just how precisely it cleaves to the medical descriptions of grief—but her elegant rendition of its stages leads to hard-won insight, particularly into the aftereffects of marriage. "Marriage is not only time: it is also, paradoxically, the denial of time. For forty years I saw myself through John's eyes. I did not age." In a sense, all of Didion's fiction, with its themes of loss and bereavement, served as preparation for the writing of this memoir, and there is occasionally a curious hint of repetition, despite the immediacy and intimacy of the subject matter. Still, this is an indispensable addition to Didion's body of work and a lyrical, disciplined entry in the annals of mourning literature.
 This book is about getting a grip and getting on; it's also a tribute to an extraordinary marriage.

 

 
Good Grief-A Novel by Lolly Winston

Some widows face their loss with denial. Sophie Stanton's reaction is one of pure bafflement. "How can I be a widow?" Sophie asks at the opening of Lolly Winston's sweet debut novel, Good Grief. "I'm only thirty-six. I just got used to the idea of being married." Sophie's young widowhood forces her to do all kinds of crazy things--drive her car through her garage door, for instance. That's on one of the rare occasions when she bothers to get out of bed. The Christmas season especially terrifies her: "I must write a memo to the Minister of Happier Days requesting that the holidays be cancelled this year." But widowhood also forces her to do something very sane. After the death of her computer programmer husband, she reexamines her life as a public relations agent in money-obsessed Silicon Valley. Sophie decides to ease her grief, or at least her loneliness, by moving in with her best friend Ruth in Ashland, Oregon. But it's her difficult relationship with psycho teen punker Crystal, to whom she becomes a Big Sister, that mysteriously brings her at least a few steps out of her grief. Winston allows Sophie life after widowhood: The novel almost indiscernibly turns into a gentle romantic comedy and a quirky portrait of life in an artsy small town. At all stops on her journey from widow to survivor, Sophie is a lively, crabby, delightfully imperfect character. --Claire Dederer

From Publishers Weekly:
"The grief is up already. It is an early riser, waiting with its gummy arms wrapped around my neck, its hot, sour breath in my ear." Sophie Stanton feels far too young to be a widow, but after just three years of marriage, her wonderful husband, Ethan, succumbs to cancer. With the world rolling on, unaware of her pain, Sophie does the only sensible thing: she locks herself in her house and lives on what she can buy at the convenience store in furtive midnight shopping sprees. Everything hurts—the telemarketers asking to speak to Ethan, mail with his name on it, his shirts, which still smell like him. At first Sophie is a "good" widow, gracious and melancholy, but after she drives her car through the garage door, something snaps; she starts showing up at work in her bathrobe and hiding under displays in stores. Her boss suggests she take a break, so she sells her house and moves to Ashland, Ore., to live with her best friend, Ruth, and start over. Grief comes along, too—but with a troubled, pyromaniac teen assigned to her by a volunteer agency, a charming actor dogging her and a new job prepping desserts at a local restaurant, Sophie is forced to explore the misery that has consumed her. Throughout this heartbreaking, gorgeous look at loss, Winston imbues her heroine and her narrative with the kind of grace, bitter humor and rapier-sharp realness that will dig deep into a reader's heart and refuse to let go. Sophie is wounded terribly, but she's also funny, fresh and utterly believable. There's nary a moment of triteness in this outstanding debut.

 

 
P.S.,I Love You by Cecelia Ahern

Amazon.com Review:
Cecelia Ahern's debut novel, PS, I Love You, follows the engaging, witty, and occasionally sappy reawakening of Holly, a young Irish widow who must put her life back together after she loses her husband Gerry to a brain tumor. Ahern, the twentysomething daughter of Ireland's prime minister, has discovered a clever and original twist to the Moving On After Death concept made famous by novelists and screenwriters alike--Gerry has left Holly a series of letters designed to help her face the year ahead and carry on with her life. As the novel takes readers through the seasons (and through Gerry's monthly directives), we watch as Holly finds a new job, takes a holiday to Spain with her girlfriends, and sorts through her beloved husband's belongings. Accompanying Holly throughout the healing process is a cast of friends and family members who add as much to the novel's success as Holly's own tale of survival. In fact, it is these supporting character's mini-dramas that make PS, I Love You more than just another superficial tearjerker with the obligatory episode at a karaoke bar. Ahern shows real talent for capturing the essence of an interaction between friends and foes alike; even if Holly's circle of friends does resemble the gang from Bridget Jones a bit too neatly to ignore (her best friend is even called Sharon).

 

 
Praying Our Good-Byes by Joyce Rupp

Everyone has unique goodbyes--times of losing someone or something that has given life meaning and value. With the touch of a poet, Joyce Rupp offers her wisdom on "these experiences of leaving behind and moving on, the stories of union and separation that are written in all our hearts." Praying Our Goodbyes, Rupp says, is about the spirituality of change. It is a book for anyone who has experienced loss, whether a job change, the end of a relationship, the death of a loved one, a financial struggle, a mid-life crisis, or an extended illness. It is designed to help readers reflect, ritualize, and re-orient themselves--to help heal the hurts caused by goodbyes and the anxieties encountered when one season of life ends and another begins.

From the Inside Flap:
Letting go of what we cherish is one of the hardest things we ever have to do. And that includes letting go of jobs, homes, relationships, good health, illusions, self-importance, and even loved ones. But unless we learn to say goodbye as well as hello, we are crippled by our suffering.
This tender and realistic book can be your personal guide to accepting our inevitable goodbyes even as it reminds us that when we are suffering most deeply, the seed of hope still lives within us. Discover the emotions that goodbyes awaken and turn to the twenty-four specific prayers designed to help you deal with nearly every imaginable kind of loss.
PRAYING OUR GOODBYES should not be kept for special occasions, however, for its poetic wisdom offers the means of enriching every day, of saying hello and goodbye to every precious moment of life.

 

 
Peace Like a River by Leif Enger

Amazon.com Review:
To the list of great American child narrators that includes Huck Finn and Scout Finch, let us now add Reuben "Rube" Land, the asthmatic 11-year-old boy at the center of Leif Enger's remarkable first novel, Peace Like a River. Rube recalls the events of his childhood, in small-town Minnesota circa 1962, in a voice that perfectly captures the poetic, verbal stoicism of the northern Great Plains. "Here's what I saw," Rube warns his readers. "Here's how it went. Make of it what you will." And Rube sees plenty.

In the winter of his 11th year, two schoolyard bullies break into the Lands' house, and Rube's big brother Davy guns them down with a Winchester. Shortly after his arrest, Davy breaks out of jail and goes on the lam. Swede is Rube's younger sister, a precocious writer who crafts rhymed epics of romantic Western outlawry. Shortly after Davy's escape, Rube, Swede, and their father, a widowed school custodian, hit the road too, swerving this way and that across Minnesota and North Dakota, determined to find their lost outlaw Davy. In the end it's not Rube who haunts the reader's imagination, it's his father, torn between love for his outlaw son and the duty to do the right, honest thing. Enger finds something quietly heroic in the bred-in-the-bone Minnesota decency of America's heartland.


From Publishers Weekly:
Dead for 10 minutes before his father orders him to breathe in the name of the living God, Reuben Land is living proof that the world is full of miracles. But it's the impassioned honesty of his quiet, measured narrative voice that gives weight and truth to the fantastic elements of this engrossing tale. From the vantage point of adulthood, Reuben tells how his father rescued his brother Davy's girlfriend from two attackers, how that led to Davy being jailed for murder and how, once Davy escapes and heads south for the Badlands of North Dakota, 12-year-old Reuben, his younger sister Swede and their janitor father light out after him. But the FBI is following Davy as well, and Reuben has a part to play in the finale of that chase, just as he had a part to play in his brother's trial. It's the kind of story that used to be material for ballads, and Enger twines in numerous references to the Old West, chiefly through the rhymed poetry Swede writes about a hero called Sunny Sundown. That the story is set in the early '60s in Minnesota gives it an archetypal feel, evoking a time when the possibility of getting lost in the country still existed. Enger has created a world of signs, where dead crows fall in a snowstorm and vagrants lie curled up in fields, in which everything is significant, everything has weight and comprehension is always fleeting. This is a stunning debut novel, one that sneaks up on you like a whisper and warms you like a quilt in a North Dakota winter, a novel about faith, miracles and family that is, ultimately, miraculous.

 

 
A Grace Disguised By Jerry Sittser

The experience of loss does not have to be the defining moment of our lives, writes Gerald Sittser. Instead, the defining moment can be our response to the loss. It is not what happens to us that matters so much as what happens in us. Sittser knows. A tragic accident introduced him to loss of a magnitude few of us encounter. But this is not a book about one man's sorrow. It's about the grace that can transform us in the midst of sorrow. For those experiencing loss, A Grace Disguised offers a compassionate, deeply affirming message of hope, richness in living, and joy not after the darkness, but even in the midst of it. Now in softcover.

 

 
Military Widow: A Survival Guide By Joanne Steen

Product Description
This survival guide for widows of service personnel, a first-of-its-kind, tackles the unique and complex issues arising from the death of a spouse in the military. It speaks to loss in each of the service branches, across the span of rank and rates, and offers invaluable insights and practical strategies for dealing with this life-altering tragedy. The authors expertly blend personal experience with guidance from leading experts on grief and traumatic loss and translate ten years of lessons learned into an effective guide. Short, easy-to-read chapters provide realistic profiles of widows and their responses to loss and the complications generated in the unique world of the military, as well as insight on how to make difficult decisions and cope with everyday situations. Although written primarily for the widow, this book will also prove useful to other family members, friends, and military professionals.

About the Author
Joanne M. Steen, the widow of a naval aviator killed in the line of duty, is a nationally certified counselor and certified strategic planner, crisis responder, instructor, and speaker on military loss. M. Regina Asaro is a psychiatric nurse certified in death and bereavement and a crisis responder who worked with a team in Oklahoma City in the aftermath of the bombing and with the families of victims of the massacre in Srebrenica. She has presented many workshops on the impact of violent crime, grief, and traumatic loss.

 

 
When the World Breaks Your Heart—Spiritual Ways of Living With Tragedy by Gregory S. Clapper

Clapper (associate professor of religion and philosophy, University of Indianapolis, and associate director of the Center for Christian Vocation) was on his way to see a movie with his family when he noticed a plane flying low over the airport in Sioux City, Iowa. A dark cloud of smoke soon followed. Then came the radio announcement that United Airlines Flight 232, carrying 297 passengers, had crashed, leaving 113 dead. Clapper rushed to the scene, aiding the rescue workers in an attempt to pull survivors from the wreckage. In those hours following the crash, Clapper found himself being challenged to bring spiritual comfort and understanding to those around him. This text is a reflective look at the memories and lessons Clapper learned from this disaster and its aftermath of pain. The author quickly admits to feeling inadequate as he was called upon to deliver messages of hope to those injured both in body and spirit. He shares stories about relationships formed through mutual suffering and about his role as a spiritual leader and advocate. Throughout this book, he delves into the mystery of suffering and how it has the potential to bring hope and healing, how our lack of control brings a sense of healthy humility and the amazing impact a gentle spirit has on those who require a tender touch. Clapper writes with candor and obvious deep regard for those survivors whose courage has enriched his life immensely.

 

For Children & Teens

 

 
You Are Not Alone: Teens Talk About Life after the Loss of a Parent by Lynne B. Hughes

From School Library Journal
Grade 7 Up–Hughes, the founder of Comfort Zone Camp for grieving kids, believes that sharing experiences about losing a parent begins the healing process. Her purpose in writing the book is to let teens know that they don't have to feel isolated–there is help available for them. The book opens with the author's story of losing both of her parents by the age of 12 and living with an unloving stepmother. Fourteen chapters lead readers through the process of grieving and dealing with life without a parent. Quotes from former campers are interspersed throughout the book, giving insight into a variety of ways young people have dealt with loss. One teen states: People get that losing a parent is hard, but I don't think they fully understand everything we lose with them. It isn't just a person that is lost, it is a lifetime worth of memories yet to be made. Talking with a counselor, therapist, teacher, coach, or religious leader is suggested, along with keeping a journal. Information about Comfort Zone Camp is appended. This helpful book offers consolation in knowing that others have also experienced immeasurable loss while giving helpful suggestions on how to deal with the pain


From Booklist
Gr. 9-12. Hughes is the founder of Comfort Zone Camp, a camp for grieving children who have lost parents or siblings. She begins by telling her own unvarnished tale: her parents died before she was a teenager, and the other adults in her life were not nurturing. Noting that healing continues each time she tells her story, she then weaves the stories of more than two dozen teens who have lost parents--including several whose parents died in the attack on the World Trade Center--into chapters about grief, remembrance, loss, what helps, and moving forward. Hughes is not facile or eloquent with words, and the many quotes from the young people at Comfort Zone Camp are couched in simple, often slangy or cliched language. Still, this title may provide a pathway for teens struggling with their own inchoate and often silent grief.

 

 
The Goldfish Went on Vacation By Patty Dann

From Publishers Weekly:
Dann, the author of Mermaids, had been married almost 10 years to her Dutch husband, Willem, when he was suddenly diagnosed with a fatal brain cancer. In this memoir (the cute title undercuts the serious subject), Dann explains how the plans they'd so lovingly made—their future together—would abruptly come to an end. Worse, Dann had no idea how she'd explain to their three-year-old son, Jake, whom they adopted from Lithuania, that his father would begin to act strangely, that he would become very sick and eventually die. Fortunately, she enlisted the aid of an understanding child therapist, Sallie Sanborn, who taught Dann how to give Jake permission to grieve. While her son's reactions were Dann's focus, she also had to come to terms with the man she loved losing his language skills, his mobility, his thought processes, and their happy marriage coming to an end. Dann lets her story unfold as a series of short vignettes—some triggered by a mundane object, others by something someone said. Bittersweet and painfully honest, Dann's memoir of how she had to leave one life and begin another is remarkable.

 

 
Jim, the Boy by Tony Earley

Amazon.com Review:
Tony Earley made his debut with Here We Are in Paradise, a superbly understated collection of (mostly) small-town vignettes. He returns to the same terrain in his first novel, Jim the Boy, setting this coming-of-age story in a remote North Carolina hamlet. The year is 1934, and like the rest of the country, Aliceville is feeling the pinch of the Great Depression. Yet neither Jim nor his mother nor his three uncles--who have split the paternal role neatly among themselves since the death of Jim's father a decade earlier--are feeling much in the way of economic pain. Indeed, if you stuck a satellite dish on the front lawn, the story might be taking place in the New South rather than the older, bucolic one.

This isn't to suggest that Earley is deaf to social detail. Indeed, there are all sorts of wonderful touches, like the décor in Jim's classroom, with its "large, colorful maps of the United States, the Confederacy, and the Holy Land during the time of Jesus." But Jim the Boy is very much the tale of a 10-year-old's expanding consciousness, which at first barely extends beyond the family property. Earley has a real gift for conveying childhood epiphanies, like Jim's sudden apprehension of the wider world during a trip in Uncle Al's truck:

Two thoughts came to Jim at once, joined by a thread of amazement: he thought, People live here, and he thought, They don't know who I am. At that moment the world opened up around Jim like hands that, until that moment, had been cupped around him; he felt very small, almost invisible, in the open air of their center, but knew that the hands would not let him go. It was almost like flying.

The simple lyricism and anti-ironic sweetness work mostly to the book's advantage. There are times, it's true, when Earley sands his prose down to an unnatural smoothness, and we seem to be edging toward the sentimental precincts of a young-adult novel. But on the whole, Jim the Boy is a lovely, meticulous work--a song of innocence and (eventually) experience, delivered with just a hint of a North Carolina accent.


From Publishers Weekly:
Simple, resonant sentences and a wealth of honest feeling propel this tracing of a 10-year-old boy's coming of age in Aliceville, N.C., in the 1930s. Earley's debut novel (after his well-received collection Here We Are in Paradise) carries us, in charmingly ungangly fashion, toward its moving, final epiphanies. Quizzical, innocent Jim Glass lives on a farm with his widowed mother and three uncles, who provide companionship for the boy and offer casual wisdom on life's travails. Jim's father's sudden death at age 23 left a wake of tenderness as his legacy, so much so that Jim's mother still feels married even after his death. However, she will never speak to her father-in-law, who has spent some time in jail and is a despicable loner with a rumored penchant for illegally distilled whiskey. The stormy background Earley provides makes Jim's openness and na?vet? all the more haunting. The narrative develops as a series of loosely related, moving anecdotes: the tragic story behind Aliceville's name, a trip with an uncle to buy a horse that becomes a lesson in the transience of corporeal life, a race up a greased pole at a carnival that casts a new light on Jim's bonds with another boy, Jim's best friend's struggle with polio, Jim's mother's resistance to a suitor, and the introduction of electricity to Aliceville on Christmas Eve. In roundabout fashion, and in simple, often poetic prose, Earley brings his protagonist to knowledge of his identity. The dramatic and entrancing growth of this wisdom may strike some readers as overly sentimental. Nevertheless, the closure the book achieves is solid and well-earned.

 

 
The Blue Star by Tony Earley

Tony Earley's first novel was Jim the Boy and The Blue Star is its sequel. Time has moved forward to the eve of World War II, but everything else is much the same in the countryside of North Carolina. Jim Glass is now a senior in high school, living in the peaceful haven of his three uncles and his mother.

Love complicates his otherwise halcyon life, in the person of one Chrissie Steppe. We can't help whom we love, and Jim has made a big mistake by falling for Chrissie. She and her mother are in what amounts to indentured servitude up on the mountain, living on the property of the influential Bucklaws. Their son, Bucky, is in the Navy and expects that Chrissie will wait for him. She has nothing to say about it because she and her mother have nowhere to go if they are turned off Bucklaw's land because Chrissie has other ideas.

Earley's books are charming and evocative, calling back another time in this country when life was simpler, except in the realm of human emotions, which do not change with the times. He has a way of creating a time and place exactly as the people experiencing it would have felt, putting the reader in the picture. Finishing this book, the reader wonders what World War II and its aftermath will hold for Jim the boy, who is now a man. Perhaps Earley will tell us.

From Publishers Weekly:
The small dramas of teenage love get caught in the crosswinds of a war in this sequel to the 2001 bestseller Jim the Boy. It's late summer 1941, and Jim Glass, now a high school senior, has an earnest, unshakable passion for classmate Chrissie Steppe. But as straightforward as his feelings are, the circumstances of his nascent romance are complex: Chrissie's family is indebted to their landlord, whose sailor son Bucky claimed Chrissie as his girl before shipping out to serve on the USS California at Pearl Harbor. Throughout Jim's fraught final year at school, he relies on the advice of his uncles, but after Pearl Harbor is bombed, they can't protect him from the war's toll. Questions of patriotism, sexuality and poverty weave their way into a narrative that's deceptive in its simplicity: the growing pains that Jim and his friends experience pack a startling emotional punch. (Mar.)

 

 
Tear Soup by Pat Schwiebert, Taylor Bills, and Pat Schwiebert

Tear soup is a wonderfully illustrated children's book for adults written about how we each individually grieve loss in our lives.

The story is about "Grandy," but she could just as easily be me or you, and Grandy has suffered a loss, so Grandy begins to make tear soup. Tear soup cannot be made just out of a can, but is an individual process, as unique as each chef; and only through the soup making can we fully heal and move on.

The full page illustrations through which the text of the story run show an even richer tale of the other people and pets in Grandy's life who interact with her recipe and add a powerful depth to an already touching story which you can't help but relate to your own life.

 

 
The Next Place by Warren Hanson

An inspirational journey of light and hope to a place where earthly hurts are left behind.

 

 
25 Things To Do When Grandpa Passes Away, Mom and Dad Get Divorced, or the Dog Dies…Activities to Help Children Suffering Loss or Change by Laurie A. Kanyer, MA.

Kids experience all sorts of grief and loss---a death in the family, a divorce, an unexpected move, the loss of a pet. They need ways to acknowledge these losses and they need to be able to express their grief in physical ways. Some children need the activities we consider traditional: they conduct ceremonies or write letters to the people they have lost. Other children, overflowing with the anger that is a natural part of grief, need to pound, punch, run and jump. Still others want to express their grief through art.

Written by Laurie Kanyers, M.A., whose research and clinical experience has focused on how children cope when they must deal with change, loss and death, "25 Things to Do..." explains the grieving process. It provides dozens of activities that help bereaved children. Kanyer explains the value of each activity so that parents and caregivers can select appropriate projects based on the child's age, kind of loss and stage in the grieving process. She also discusses how learning about grief prepares children for new relationships and to accept losses later in life.

About the Author
Trained as a counselor, Laurie Kanyer runs parenting courses in Yakima, Wash. The descendent of an Irish immigrant family, she has spent the last two decades as a parenting educator and consultant in central Washington. A graduate of Central Washington University and St. Mary's University of Minnesota, she is a certified family life educator and the author of two parenting guides.

 

 
Sad Isn't Bad: A Good-Grief Guidebook for Kids Dealing With Loss by Michaelene Mundy

Loaded with positive, life-affirming advice for coping with loss as a child, this guide tells children what they need to know after a loss--that the world is still safe; life is good; and hurting hearts do mend. Written by a school counselor, this book helps comfort children facing of the worst and hardest kind of reality.

 

 
Help Me Say Goodbye: Activities for Helping Kids Cope When a Special Person Dies by Janis Silverman

An art therapy and activity book for children coping with the death of someone they love. Sensitive exercises address all the questions children may have during this emotional and troubling crisis. Children are encouraged to express in pictures what they are often incapable of expressing in words.

 

 
Helping Children Cope With the Loss of a Loved One: A Guide for Grownups by William C. Kroen.

Dr. William Kroen offers sound advice, comfort and compassion to any adult helping a child cope with death. Weaving in anecdotes about real children and their families, he explains how children from infancy through age 18 perceive and react to death and offers suggestions for how to respond to children at different ages and stages. Specific strategies are offered to guide and support them through the grieving process.