The BSD Book Bunny recommends: Surviving the Death of a Sibling

The Butter Side Down Book Bunny highly recommends Surviving the Death of a Sibling for any adult who has lost a brother or sister

Four years ago today my sister Dorothy died in a car accident.

As long-time readers of BSD know, this was doubly horrific for our family, as my father was killed in a virtually identical accident in September of 2000. From statistics I was able to hunt up on this, only 39 families a year in the United States suffer the experience of losing a family member in a second unrelated car accident after previously having lost a family member in a car accident.

What happened is… indescribable. Her death was a terrible shock and loss for all of us–her husband, her children, my mother, our siblings, our spouses and children and all our related family and friends.

I miss Dorothy every single day. I always will.

One of the most helpful sources I’ve found, following Dorothy’s death, of practical, down-to-earth support and advice is T. J. Wray’s 2003 book, Surviving the Death of a Sibling.

I wasn’t sure at first, when I recently found this book, if I even wanted to read it. However, I was hooked when I read on the fourth page, “The sad fact is this: When an adult loses a brother or a sister, society often fails to recognize the depth of such a loss. Witness what I call dismissive condolences, offered by well-intentioned but sorely misguided friends, acquaintances, family members, and coworkers: “Well, you lived in different states, so you probably weren’t very close.” Or “Thank goodness it wasn’t your husband or one of your children.” And “Your brother/sister died? How awful! How are your parents?”

Whoa. I had heard every single one of those condolences myself, offered by well-meaning individuals after my sister died! And it had bothered me tremendously, although at the time I couldn’t explain why. You know what? After reading this book, now I know why! “Intellectually,” Ms. Wray writes, “we may understand that people mean well; they’re attempting to be helpful and to offer comfort to us in our sorrow. Yet dismissive condolences have the opposite effect. They make our loss seem trivial, and they also make the surviving sibling feel as if his or her grief is somehow unwarranted.”

Eureka! That’s it exactly.

While Ms. Wray is a faculty member at Salve Regina University in Newport, Rhode Island, this book isn’t a dry academic study written by a detached observer. Instead, the book came about after she herself lost her adult brother, and found little or no information or support anywhere to help her deal with the loss.

It’s a one-of-a-kind book. It offers practical, nuts-and-bolts advice on what helps — and what doesn’t help — when dealing with the loss of a sibling. It’s written primarily for the mourner but it’s also a great guide for anyone who has a friend or acquaintance who has lost a sibling.

If you’ve lost an adult sibling, or know someone who has, this is the book I’d recommend.

For more information about the book, and a forum on adult sibling loss, you can check out Ms. Wray’s website on adult sibling grief.

If you’re a member of Bookshare, you can get an accessible copy of the book here.

For everyone else, here’s the book information. Surviving the Death of a Sibling, by T. J. Wray. Published by Three Rivers Press, copyright 2003. It’s 247 pages in length, and available in paperback and Kindle editions. also has a sneak peak of the contents. Surviving the Death of a Sibling does not contain any explicit sex, graphic violence or strong language, but the material is written specifically for adults, about death and loss.

–This post dedicated to the memory of Dorothy Michalek, September 7, 1946 – February 27, 2007.

Wisconsin: We’re Not Just About Beer and Brats

Holy smokes. Li’l ol’ Wisconsin has suddenly become the center of international attention.

In case you’ve been out ice fishin’ and missed the party going on in Madison: Wow. Just wow.

About those Wisconsin Democratic Senators makin’ a run across the border to prevent a vote on the bill that’s going to strip away union workers’ rights?

Again: Wow. Non-violent. Innovative. Effective. My hat is off to you.

I’m not a Democrat. I’m not a Republican, either. I’m one of those “independents” you always hear about that political pundits just can’t seem to understand. Fiscally conservative. Socially progressive. Fiercely independent.

I am deeply disturbed by our new Governor’s stance that his tactics regarding union workers are “the” way to save “us” taxpayers our dollars.

I’m not a member of a union. But this sure smells to me like saying that since private employers have gotten away with kicking their workers in the teeth, stripping away contractually promised benefits and pay as a “cost cutting” measure (while continuing in many cases to pay big-buck bonuses and perks to upper management), the “right” thing to do is treat union workers the same way.

No, thank you. We can do the right thing–there are many ways to return to a fiscally responsible, effective government that works within the taxpayer’s means–but let’s not do it the wrong way! The ends do not justify the means. Ever.

And why do I care about what’s happening regarding the union workers, since I’m not a union worker, I’m not a Democrat, I’m not a Republican, and I’m not even marginally in the workforce?

I think German Pastor Martin Niemoller’s famous poem says it best.

First They came… (Martin Niemoller, 1892-1984)

First they came for the communists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a communist.

Then they came for the trade unionists,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a trade unionist.

Then they came for the Jews,
and I didn’t speak out because I wasn’t a Jew.

Then they came for me
and there was no one left to speak out for me.

Hoppy Valentine’s Day!

And a very Hoppy Valentine's Day from all the bunnies at BSD to you!

It’s Valentine’s Day… and am I the only one who doesn’t think of chocolates in connection with Valentine’s Day?

It’s those little crunchy super hot red cinnamon heart candies (the ones that stain your tongue and sweaty little paws bright red) that come to mind here at BSD.

Just wonderin’.

It’s Gonna Be Way Below Zero Again Tonight…

And what’s the best way to celebrate those subzero temperatures?

A nice tasty bowl of organic ice cream, of course!

Oh, quit shivering! The best time to eat ice cream is when it’s really cold. That way it doesn’t melt all over the place and make a gooey mess.

Besides, cold is all relative, right? Here in Wisconsin we go trundling out to see the Packers when the windchill is 20 below, and take those kinds of temperatures as givens.

Sort of. Maybe. Come to think of it, we don’t. We’re just used to it. Oh well, any time is a good time for ice cream, isn’t it? Besides, good ice cream is comfort food, and when it’s so cold it could freeze a bunny’s whiskers, we all need comfort food, right?

My favorite organic ice cream ever came from a small farm in western Wisconsin. Unfortunately, it’s no longer available. But Alden’s makes a mighty delicious line of organic ice cream, too, I’ve discovered. It’s yummy served plain, spooned over bananas and strawberries, or smothered in our favorite fruit topping. Slurp!

Come to think of it, now that we’ve finished the carton, I’m gonna award Alden’s a BSD Yummy Award–it’s definitely a recommended treat!

 Mmmmm - vanilla ice cream! Hand me that spoon, please!

Here’s a photo I took of the top the carton, in case you want to look for it yourself.

Oh–and I can highly recommend serving a bowl of their vanilla ice cream with warm organic maple syrup drizzled over the top, too…