A profoundly moving meditation on loss and renewal. Cole, a free-lance journalist, unites insights from searing personal experience with findings of researchers and the observations of clinicians and writers to explore the process of mourning and to forge this powerful resource book. The author's own history is a heartbreaking trail of sickness, death, and terror (she was held hostage by Hanafi Muslims), but Cole manages to focus on the patterns in the process and the mental strategies that foster accommodation. She is familiar with the strange etiquette of friends in the presence of illness; with the influence of early parental death on subsequent generations; with survivors' feelings of isolation and loss of identity; and with those who experience not the clearly defined stages in counselors' handbooks but lingering sadness, who ache for the lost partner (or child or friend) and conduct ongoing imaginary conversations with the dead. Many, especially women, may consult a pastoral counselor or grief therapist, but other sources--poetry, music, volunteer work--frequently provide solace in unexpected ways. Taking a cue from Emily Dickinson (""After great pain, a formal feeling comes....""), Cole suggests that deep suffering, though painful, can be relieved and succeeded by a changed self; she discusses how the adoption of a son (after failed pregnancies and years of infertility) allowed her to overcome and move beyond the hurts of the past. It is impossible to read this without responding personally--examining one's own losses--and feeling respect for such a compelling and even timeless work.