Dear Cheyenne: a book for bereaved parents & those who love them
written by Joanne Cacciatore-Garard

book review by Kara L.C. Jones

Dear Cheyenne
Published by MISS Foundation
ISBN: 0971726655
Retail Price: $11.95

How can I even begin to review this book. Joanne was the first person to come along and pick my husband and me up off the floor of grief after our son died. To say I'm a biased reviewer would be an understatement, but my perspective of this book comes not only just from my own reading, but also from the feedback of so many other parents.

Dear Cheyenne was the first book I read that did not pathologize grief and all the responses I was having after my son's death. Joanne shares *honestly* all the things a bereaved parent may go through -- from rage to irrational thoughts, from surprise to utter hopelessness. And yet, just because she shares all this, normalizes it for us -- well, therein is hope! Dear Cheyenne is one illustration of moving *through* it all. It shows a bereaved parent who doesn't get stuck in one thing or another. Isn't in denial. Isn't passive in grief. She is moving through it all, acknowledging it all, the good, the bad, the ugly, the really awful, and showing how her experiences with Cheyenne's life and death transformed her own path.

Joanne shares all of this through poetry, journalling, and letter writing. We not only see the journey of Chey's life and death, but also the birth of the MISS Foundation itself. We are privy to Joanne's early communications with other bereaved parents and the professionals who care for them. We learn about the Kindness Project.

In addition to Chey's story, Joanne also includes many articles and resources in the last part of the book including options for funeral planning, memorial rituals, support group contacts, myths of grief, quotes from other bereaved parents, ideas for helping bereaved surviving siblings, and more. This book offers a resource that can be so helpful to families at the time of crisis or those who are years out from the date of death. There is so much there, that with each re-read of the book, you will find another "a-ha" moment that reveals something for your own path!

This year on July 27, 2004, Cheyenne would have been 10 years old. I know Joanne misses her so very much -- misses the physicalness of motherhood she would have given Cheyenne. But I want you all to know that Cheyenne's presence is still here with us. I feel it all the time in the mothering Joanne is doing on a global level as she raises awareness and compassion for bereaved parents. That does not fix grief. That does not make us miss Chey any less. But it sure makes me realize what a powerful affect Cheyenne has had on our world! And Joanne has shared that story with all of us in this book!

If you don't already have a copy, get one. If you do have a copy, then get another and donate it to your local library or hospital or freed books project. Don't miss this one!

~A ton of birthday wishes to you, Cheyenne! We remember!~

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