Book Review, September/October 2001
By Kara L.C. Jones

Tear Soup: a recipe for healing after loss
Written by Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen
Illustrated by Taylor Bills

Published by Grief Watch, Portland, Oregon
ISBN 0-9615197-6-2
Retail $19.95

Wow, wow, and wow. I happened upon the Tear Soup website as I did an internet search for "bereavement cards," and much to my surprise I found that they do indeed offer cards like this. I had just been (rather bitterly) writing that Hallmark could make a card for when a pet dies, but no one seemed interested in making cards for when a child dies. So I sent an email off to Tear Soup inquiring about their work. Am I ever glad I did!

That communication led to this review of the book Tear Soup as well as some new poetry I wrote (see the poem "Bag o' questions, litany of answers" in this month's Poetry Journal), and an interview with authors Pat Schwiebert and Chuck DeKlyen. And just plain old wow -- that's my reaction to all their work on behalf of grief and healing awareness.

This article is a review of the book Tear Soup, and I can't do anything but say that it should be handed out to everyone! It should be mandatory reading in every Life Skills class in every high school in the world. It should be required reading for every nursing, midwifery, or ob/gyn school on the planet. It should be given to every clueless person-- or as Grandy, the character from this book would say "brave but fearful" person who tries to help but is really just offering platitudes and showing their own discomfort with the subject of loss, grief, and healing!

The book is presented in such a way that it is accessible to all age groups. It looks like a colorful children's book. But let me tell you!!! This is such a comprehensive artwork!!! The main character Grandy has "suffered a big loss in her life"-- but the book doesn't specifically say what that loss is-- hence, it is extraordinarily useful for addressing any kind of loss. Grandy takes us through all the grief issues I can think of and have experienced: from how it takes a long time to grieve, it is hard work, we all grieve differently, to how our faith beliefs might be brought into crisis after facing a loss. It's just amazing what the metaphor of Tear Soup does for explaining grief! It's perfect.

And it isn't just the story. At the back of the book you'll find Grandy's notes. These tips are for if you are the Tear Soup cook (the bereaved), or for if you are a friend of the bereaved; tips for if the child is the cook or if you happen to be male and cooking tear soup; tips for cooking/grieving if there are two of you grieving the same loss; and then there is a comprehensive list of online and offline resources for getting more help.

I can't say enough about this book. If you have suffered a loss or if you know someone who has suffered a loss, you really need to read this book! It's one of the best resources I've come across yet!

This page is dedicated to Dakota
Born and died March 11, 1999

Reviewer Biography
Kara L.C. Jones is a founder of KotaPress and a grieving mother who lost her first born son on March 11, 1999 at 4:47 p.m. She works toward healing by doing her own writing and offering poetry therapy consults to other bereaved parents. If you wish to contact her, please send email to

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