Why We Created This Book

Braver Than You Believe: True Stories of Losing Love and Finding Self
by Sue Mangum with Claire Cameron

Why we created this book 
Most people experience the end of a romantic relationship at some point. Yet it is almost impossible to feel ready for the emotional turmoil that comes with the unexpected death of a spouse or the end of a marriage, especially when infidelity has occurred. The emotional grief from these events is overwhelming.

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photo by CE Cameron

Compounding the problem, American culture offers few resources or formal rites for coping with grief. Friends and family members may find it uncomfortable to deal with their loved one’s strong emotional displays, such as weeping, screaming, or anger. In a popular media report, a sociologist pointed out that “no culture before has abandoned all recommendations of how to mourn,” (TIME, Jan 29, 2011). So people who are grieving may have trouble finding a supportive outlet, and may even avoid grief groups because of the stigma surrounding spousal death and divorce.

Despite this, people clearly need outlets for their grief. A recent SLATE article posed the question, “What is grief really like?” (March 24, 2011), and asked readers to contribute their answers to a survey, which are described here and in the below slide show.

question from Slate survey on grief

Our book, BRAVER THAN YOU BELIEVE: TRUE STORIES OF LOSING LOVE AND FINDING SELF, illuminates these issues by following a group of women through a year of grief and recovery after the unexpected loss of their partners to death or divorce.

About the story 
BRAVER THAN YOU BELIEVE is composed of emails written by six real women – three widows and three divorcées – who exchanged more than 500 emails between January and December. Their emails have been edited to a book of approximately 75K words that reads like a novel. The women write about anything on their mind, such as their children, sex and dating experiences, their good days and not-so-good days.

This book is for people who need someone to tell the sincere truth about loss. It’s especially for women who feel alone after a major relationship ends, and for those who wonder if anyone else understands their deep, intense feelings. It will also help family members and friends who want to support a grieving loved one, but who aren’t sure how to begin. Finally, it shows surprising similarities between losing a spouse to death and losing a marriage to divorce. These include feelings of abandonment, anger, confusion, and exhaustion; but also unrealized strengths and inner resources that were untapped before the traumatic event.

Why you should read this book if you’re grieving
BRAVER THAN YOU BELIEVE shows that losing the love of our life can lead us to a truer, stronger self. After such a profound loss, old assumptions and beliefs shatter. But with time, courage, and the support of an accepting, “anything goes” group, loss can lead to recovery and a regeneration of the self.