Are you ready to let go of some things or ask for help?
Grief is an integral part of being human. Grief demands attention. Grief changes us. And grief does not magically evaporate — or even ebb — 365 days after a loved one dies. Well-meaning friends and family members may suggest that a year signals time to move on, but, as Pamela D. Blair and Bradie McCabe Hansen caution in The Long Grief Journey, “Healing from loss and grief is not a race to the finish.”
Blair, a psychotherapist, and McCabe Hansen, a psychologist, have applied their combined 50 years of clinical experience to write an invaluable guide and workbook for those navigating “the gauntlet of grief” and those trying to help them.
With jargon-free explication, meaningful anecdotes and actionable steps, the Shelburne-based coauthors provide a sturdy, supportive scaffolding upon which people can gradually climb toward the light “while holding space for [their] love and loss.”
seven days, june 2023
“Blair (American Inst. Of Holistic Theology), an experienced life coach and holistic psychotherapist, sets out to help senior women solve the many challenges of aging. Each topic (e.g., “Continued Learning,” “Caregiving Grandchildren,” “Traveling Adventures”) contains a relevant quote and long paragraph outlining the issue. Chapters end with a challenge to the reader–a tough question such as: What would I like to study? How do I deal with my adult children? Where shall I travel? Blair emphasizes looking to oneself rather than to the outside world for solutions. There are many approaches to the topic, and each will be fruitful for the inquiring reader. VERDICT: Many seniors will find the wide selection of topics and related advice in this title helpful. Even men can learn from Blair’s volume.”
“Blair covers a wide-range of material in thematic chapters on self-image, minds, emotions, fears, love, lives and relationships, spiritual self, creative self, health, living spaces, families, friends, play, work, and finances. She has spiced up this material with a batch of lively and thought-provoking quotations. For example, in the introduction, she quotes May Sarton: “I have always longed to be old, and that is because all my life I have had such great exemplars of old age, such marvelous models to contemplate.” All those who read this engaging paperback will feel the same way!”
Frederic & Mary Ann
For people like myself at this “booming” stage of life, Getting Older Better is a beacon guiding us to a new energy of gratitude and healthy attitude. I especially appreciate some of the lighter moments offered along with more serious topics. The author’s willingness to share her own stories “for better or worse” will assure you that you are not alone. This book will be your companion to aging well!
“An unexpected death from an accident or suicide is very different from a death that was preceded by a lengthy illness or decline. That’s not to understate the magnitude of anyone’s loss, but to say that the way you react in body, soul and mind to the sudden loss of a loved one is fundamentally different because of the shock and lack of preparation. I got this book on my Kindle within a couple of days of the death of my brother and then bought copies for other family members. It was extrememly helpful, especially in the early days, in helping us to understand what we were going through and why our reactions were so different and unexpected. It reassured me that I was not losing my mind and it helped me to support my family members. My recommendation is don’t wait. If you’ve lost a loved one unexpected, get this book and read the second chapter (which is what they recommend at first) as soon as you can. It was worth it to me just to know that everything were were experiencing was normal and that it would get better in time.”
“This is a winner! Wise, pertinent advice for all women who are aging – every topic covered to enable graceful, joyful, healthy, sexy aging with ample opportunity to record personal thoughts. Includes a useful format for workshops, and is an outstanding all inclusive compendium for all women!”
“This book has indeed encouraged me to re-envision my life for the years ahead. The essays by women who are successfully aging are short. There is room after each essay for journaling, answering specific question about the essay. This has made it possible for me to explore my beliefs about aging. I have made the book my own and have actually written on every page. The wide margins encourage note taking. Usually I will write in pencil so my material can be erased. In this book my comments are in ink. I have claimed the book as my own. It is a book that I will give to my friends who are stuck in the myths of aging. After reading this I know that I do not have to age like my Mother or Grandmother. My age now is 68 and I know now that I have many fulfilling years ahead of me. This is the first interactive book i have seen on aging.”
“When I lost my husband, I was devastated. I was in shock, in my PJs all day for 1st month. the next 2 months I rarely went out of the house. I thought I was losing my mind. I couldn’t breath. I saw a counselor, which was no help, I went to the Priest which also was no help. Then one day I went to my neighbor, who also had lost her husband 2years prior, and fell into her arms sobbing. She listened, assured me I wasn’t crazy and loaned me 3 books on grief. “I wasn’t ready to say good-bye” really helped me. It was hard to read because it was my story and painful but it helped me like nothing else had. I read a page a day because I would be in tears. It was such a relief to know I was not losing my mind and that others were thinking, saying and feeling just like me. I have bought this book for other people and recommended to everyone I came across that was grieving. I am so grateful for this book. I hope it helps someone else as it has me. I am still grieving but I am now functioning.”
“This is a fantastic book and a great reference to help you get through some of the challenging times as we age (most of the challenges are in our head). The Next Fifty Years gives you some grounding, puts your life into perspective. I love it!”
“I like how she began each section with a quote, such as this one from Peg Bracken on the subject of losing things: ‘You can decline to look for items you misplace. Let them find you. She then gave tips on handling each situation; for example, in the above: Another way I help myself keep tracks of things is designating what organizers call a landing spot. My spot is on the dining room table where I put everything that has to go with me in the car when I do my errands; that’s where I put mail to go out, my keys, my cellphone, my purse and the bag for the Goodwill bin. One woman I know places everything she wants to remember to take with her directly in front of the door so she can’t get out without tripping on her end. And she concludes with journaling questions that are designed to help the reader move into his or her third act with a sense of both adventure and possibility. There’s a lot of good stuff here that’s especially relevant to women. My hope is that Blair will come out with a companion volume geared to me.”
“I hadn’t been paying much attention to the fact I was over 50. Then I started to feel a lack of energy. This book caught my eye and my response was ’50 more years of this?’ Of course, my role models were people who felt old, acted old and molded themselves into the templates they expected to fit after 50. I curled up with Blair’s book to find another point of view. In it I discovered an advocate for living. I realized when I was low energy, I might simply rest instead of pushing. I might need to modify my pace, but there was no reason I had to radically alter my lifestyle. Blair made me feel my resistance to a label of ‘old’ was healthy and not denial. She supplies fun and interesting exercises as well as a mix of humorous and profound text. If you want to live the next 50 years with enthusiasm, this book is a launching pad for growth. I’m looking forward to it!”
“This is one of the best books I have read surrounding the death of a loved one I have read. I personally have lost 10 family members in about as many years and this book helped alot in my life. Have lost children, grandchildren, parents, spouse, nieces, sister-in-law, too many to list. At least one a year since 2010 and some years, 2. This book really helped.”
“When my brother dies suddenly this past April, I didn’t know how to handle it after the initial shock. I vegetated outside on my swing for about a month. I read this book and it helped me immensely. Just to know that I wasn’t alone in all the grief. To see that siblings are sometimes forgotten in the grieving process because everyone focuses on the parents and spouse. Sibling loss is profound. It removes a part of your identity, part of who you are because this person has been in your life since the beginning. Anyone who has lost a loved one should read this book. I bought extra copies for our parents and his wife. It helped me survive the initial phase of the grieving process.”
“This was the first book I bought after my brother’s passing. I hate that people have to deal with this amount of pain of loosing a loved one but this book made me feel like I wasn’t crazy or alone. It’s GREAT. I even gifted this book to my good friend whose 5 year old son is having a hard time coping with his uncle’s death. This is one of the greatest books I’ve ever bought and it comes with plenty of resources at the end. I recommend it 100%.”
“I liked this workbook. It is comprehensive and divided into four sections: Thoughts, Cultural Attitudes and Myths about Women Aging; Who we are, Who and What We Live With; and Looking Forward. In her introduction, Blair suggests that we skip sections which do not apply to us. All of her short essays are followed by space in which to respond to questions such as ‘how does this feel?’ or, more specifically, asking for a response to the issue addressed.
There were sections which did not pique my curiosity and I did read through those quickly. However, on a whole, the issues addressed are those which we, as women in the second half of life, should be thinking about. Her style gives us an opportunity for reflection, but does not ask us to spend hours thinking and writing. One could work through a section or even a few pages, put it down, pick it up and still follow the flow of the concepts.
Blair’s book is intended to be used as a personal journal but could be used in a discussion/writing group following the study guide in the back or any other format deemed fitting for a group of women. It is well written researched and easy to follow.
The titles of her essays are enough to entice one to read. For example: Myths to Not Live By, Changing Tempo, Aging Can Be Fun? Ages and Stages and An Attitude of Gratitude. There is a long bibliography and a study guide. Her writing is pleasing and her flashes of humor and mini-stories about herself keep The Next Fifty Years from being a dry workbook. Blair feels that “we have an assignment to make clear our role in society: to inscribe the possibilities of age on the guideposts to the future.”
“My husband went in for a routine test and ended up dying from it. His death was so sudden and so unexpected that I needed something to help me cope. As a writer I just couldn’t find my own words to deal. After reading other reviews on this book I knew I needed to order it. I read a chapter a night and it is helping me to cope and to understand that life does go on. It also helps you to understand there is no time limit on grief and no two people will ever grieve the same. Much thanks to the author.”
The reader can explore every aspect of what lies ahead for her as an older woman in 150 short essays that range from cultural attitudes and myths about aging women to such practical matters as health, finances, and relationships. The author poses questions at the end of each essay to which the reader can respond to by journaling right in the book, making it a highly personal experience. As an added bonus, a study guide is provided at the end of the book for women who wish to meet in discussion groups using The Next Fifty Years. This book is the perfect companion for the woman who wants to better understand and enter in celebratory fashion midlife and beyond.”