Dr. Marianne Bette, a Southbury resident and family physician for 40 years, has survived tremendous grief, experiences that helped her when, as a family practitioner, her patients would ask for her help confronting their own difficulties. When Bette was a young doctor, her fiancé died in a small plane accident. Years later, she married and her husband died of lung cancer. In her 40-year career as a family practitioner she counseled mourning patients and their families.
Bette, who describes herself as a "grief warrior," shares her experiences in Living with a Grieving Heart, a how-to book that will comfort and guide all those who have suffered terrific personal loss. She offers stories from her own personal experiences with grief as well as from her career in family medicine, to help those who are grieving learn how to embrace life again while living with a grieving heart.
“I wanted people to get a feeling for the whole process and to give them encouragement,” Bette says. “So many people are grieving now especially because of COVID and drug overdoses. I’m hoping this will help people to carry on and get through. You don’t have to carry that grief around.”
Living with a Grieving Heart, from Emerald Lake Books in Sherman, CT, is Bette's second book, following Living with a Dead Man, a memoir based on how she and her daughters faced her husband Thom's final year of illness.
By addressing the subject of grief and loss, Bette offers sensitive support and a matter-of-fact view: Grief can make you crazy. It can shut you down. But grief can also crack you open and change you like nothing else. You can become your best self. If you let it, grief can be the transformation of your lifetime. Living with a Grieving Heart will help readers learn how to embrace life again.
Bette writes that, "There is no finish line with grief," but her book offers examples of how to cope and accept the reality that a life has ended. Chapters deal with "Hurtful Things People Say," the struggle of reliving "Coulda, Shoulda, Woulda, If Only...," the many decisions the caregiver must make, and the hopeful "Moving On."
Bette says she wrote the book for all the people who believe there is no way out of the grief — an outlook she knows well.
"When trying to rebuild my life without Thom, I sometimes felt it was too hard to move on," she writes. "That was a bad attitude. I had to change my focus, stop looking back at what had been and what I no longer had, and start focusing on the future. It was his ending, and it was our ending, but it was not my ending. Now I needed a new beginning."
She has met with patients who are devastated by a death or drug addiction or cancer, and she would tell me, ‘You know, it’s not always going to be like this, this awful.’ We are all going to have this experience. We will have to live through it — hopefully with the least devastation. That is where you find your strength and the truth that it is still a beautiful life out there, and you are going to enjoy it again.”
Living with a Grieving Heart is a “kitchen table style” guidebook to life after tragedy for readers who are at any point along the path to recovery.