Sigmund Freud called it "the most poignant loss" of his life. Actor Sean Connery termed it "a shattering blow." Writer Norman Mailer likened it to "having a hole in your tooth. It's a pain that can never be filled."
The experience of losing a father -- no matter when or how it occurs -- tests the strength and resilience of a son. In the worst of circumstances, the loss can propel a son toward despondency; in the best, it can inspire in him a new appreciation for his life and loves, and move him with urgency to make the most of his remaining years.
Based on a landmark national survey of more than 300 men, and in-depth interviews with 70 others, FatherLoss is a rich and nuanced exploration of one of the most common and least studied events in men's lives. The book offers a fresh view of the male grieving process and practical advice to help guide sons through the loss of their fathers, no matter what stage of life the son is in when the death occurs.
Neil Chethik's original research is fascinating and often surprising. His study finds, for example, that a man's relationship with his spouse or partner is twice as likely to get better than worse after the death of his father. Chethik focuses on:
how a son can prepare for the loss of his father
specific strategies for coping in the period immediately following the death
the role that women can play in helping men through such a loss
four specific styles of men's grieving
how children, young adults, middle-aged men, and older men react differently to a father's death
how a father can help prepare a son for the father's own death
FatherLoss also offers portraits of John F. Kennedy, Jr., Michael Jordan, Ernest Hemingway, and other well-known men, focusing on how they came to terms with the deaths of their fathers. And in the closing chapter, Chethik, the father of a seven-year-old son, shares what he learned about being a father during his three years of research. Compelling and compassionate, FatherLoss is an extraordinary resource for anyone facing the death of a father, or still adjusting to such a loss that occurred years or even decades ago.
"His thorough and sensitive new book . . . explores and explains the tender territory of sons of all ages managing . . . grief." --Chicago Tribune
"Chethik's first book is both intimate and revealing . . . [he] tenderly describes the impact of father loss." --Los Angeles Times
"FatherLoss is a noble book for acknowledging men's right to grieve . . . recommended especially for small support groups." --Library Journal
"FatherLoss is a welcome and necessary addition to the literature of bereavement and the lives of men. More useful than the warm-fuzzies, more accessible than the mytho-poetic, Chethik's text examines the existential and everyday dynamics between sons and fathers, love and loss. These are difficult frontiers. Chethik provides an able guide. We are the better for it." --Thomas Lynch, author of The Undertaking
"This is a profoundly important book, filled with wise insight, built on the stories of real people, and very moving. I will recommend it for a long time to clients, friends, and colleagues, and when my own father dies, I think I will refer to it like a Bible. Neil Chethik, an already accomplished writer, shows us in FatherLoss that he understands the human soul. His readers will be very grateful to him." --Michael Gurian, author of The Wonder of Boys and A Fine Young Man
"This is a wonderful book, wise and sensitive to the many ways men grieve their dads. I highly recommend FatherLoss, not only to men facing the loss of a father, but to all those who stand by and support them in their grief." --Dr. Kenneth J. Doka, Senior Consultant, The Hospice Foundation of America
"Great book! Timely and touching. And the good news is you've never read one like it. It's going to touch sons and fathers, and the women who love them." --John Lee, author of The Flying Boy and Facing the Fire