Grief Denied: A Vietnam Widow's Story
Author: Pauline Laurent
Publisher: Catalyst for Change (1999)
Binding: Paperback, 232 pages
Grief Denied is about healing: it is about coming to terms with the intimate pain and emotional violence that was unleashed by the Vietnam War. It is also a bittersweet love story in which a young girl meets a soldier-boy, a young bride loses her soldier-husband and how, on the 30th anniversary of their marriage, the mature woman is finally able to say good-bye to the man she will always love. Laurent tells her story with clarity and candor and a great deal of caring. There are vivid descriptions of her husband, Howard, who died in combat in Vietnam on May 10, 1968, when she was 22 years old and in the last phase of her first pregnancy. There are also sharp, tender portraits of her daughter Michelle, her parents, her friends and her lovers. The author doesn't seem to have held back anything or to have denied readers a full and complete view of her personality, including her dark side. So there are emotionally wrenching accounts of her depression, her suicidal feelings, her "insanity," as she calls it, as well as her therapy and recovery and rediscovery of prayer and faith. Grief Denied offers deeply moving passages from Howard's letters to Pauline shortly before his death. Laurent describes how Vietnam got to her, though she was thousands of miles away from the heat, the dirt and the mortars. If somehow or other you never did appreciate how Vietnam got to the heart of America, then this book ought to be at the top of your list of books to read. And if you are thinking of writing a memoir to express your seemingly inexpressible pain, then this book is also for you. "In writing I finally found a container which could hold my grief," Laruent writes. "the blank page wanted to hear it all--every last detail." -- The Press Democrat, August 29, 1999 by Jonah Raskin, Chairman of the Communication Studies Department at Sonoma State University, Rohnert Park, CA.
MWSA 2004 Silver Medal for Non-fiction, Personal Memoir
I was so touched by the reading of this book, that I cried like a baby for the first time since I returned back from Vietnam. I was there myself and knew many men, such as Pauline's husband. I just never realized how much grief and stress that those left behind had suffered. Pauline is an example of someone who has had to learn how to cope and deal with the death of her husband, without any road maps. She lead with her heart and let her emotions take her to places she had never visited before. She allows us to take that journey of her spirit, though the pages of this wonderfully, well written, book of her emotional expereinces. I could not put this book down once I began - not until I reached and read the final word on the last page. I highly recommend buying and reading of this book. It will move you in ways you thought possible.
Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2004)