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The Letter: My Journey Through Love, Loss and Life, by Marie Tillman

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A book review written about the loss of a soldier and husband and the grief process

Those who have gone through a significant loss in their life often say to me, "Have you lost someone close to you?  How can you possibly understand how I feel?"  They are right.  We often think that our feelings of loss are so significant that no one can understand.  We all have experienced some kind of loss- a family member, a marriage, a dream, our health...

Suffering a loss is subjective, but we have all felt it to varying degrees.  Yet, experiencing the "green suits" walking to your front door and changing what would have been a normal day filled with grocery shopping and Facebook.  It is traumatic.  It often reveals symptoms later that mimic PTSD with flashbacks and physical shock.  In The Letter, Marie Tillman takes us on an intimate, vulnerable journey of her experience of losing her husband, former NFL player turned Ranger, Pat Tillman.  We walk with her through their personal story of meeting, falling in love, joining the military and adjusting to the culture.  Her pain of losing her love is raw, yet easy to read even for a military wife who carries the fear herself.

It is a perfect book for those who have been through similar loss, as it validate thoughts, feelings, and the seasons of grief as it changes over the years.  Marie opens up about how she processed the reality of her loss, her feelings towards the military soon after, and her inner conflict of moving forward.  The reader walks with her through the invasion of media into her pain,

"Pat had become an icon, a cultural symbol.  His life and death meant different things to different people, and the interpretation of him often was some reflection of themselves, or the selves they wish they were.  Complete strangers mourned him, but they mourned the loss of something symbolic, while we, his friends and family, mourned the flesh-and-blood man."

Her experiences of extended family members as they grieve, and ultimately how she eventually found the peace to love and live again bring you "home" in a positive way that makes you feel honored to be invited in.

A must read or CareTeam/Go Team members who want to understand how to love and serve a new military widow.  While it often feels too close to home and stunts our ability to find the right words, this book provides excellent insight to the needs of our Gold Star Families throughout the seasons of grief.  It offers hope, the ability to be graceful with our patience, and gives the words to say and not say. 

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