Coping with Death in the Family


168 pages
Contains Bibliography
ISBN 0-920053-21-1





Reviewed by Claude A. Guldner

Claude A. Guldner is a professor of family studies at the University of


This is a gem of a book! In the past, far too many books dealing with death have placed the primary focus upon the dying individual to the exclusion of the significant people surrounding that person. This work looks at the family of the dying individual whether that person be infant, child, adolescent, adult, or parent. The author writes out of his own experience of spending years working with dying family members. The book is heavily enriched through the use of brief but very well focused case samples, which give both negative and positive examples of dealing with death in the family. It is these examples, as well as the clarity of writing style and thought, which will make this an ideal work for the average lay person to read. I would see it as having a prime place in self-help groups coping with the death of a family member.

There are some very practical chapters as well as those which deal with coping styles. One chapter, “A Parent’s Legacy,” deals with some of the practical aspects related to death, such as funeral arrangements, wills, inheritance. An important chapter focuses on the reader’s own death. If this chapter is read from a subjective stance, it can have a profound impact and can lead to important conversations with family members about death — which I believe is the road to intimacy in the family system. The author has a brief chapter on suicide and its impact upon the family and the community. There is a brief but significant bibliography. As the author indicates in the introduction, “this book tries to offer hope to families and show that although death is tragic, life can and must go on for the survivors.” The book fulfills this aim throughout.


Schneiderman, Gerald, “Coping with Death in the Family,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed June 21, 2024,