Sorrow is “not a state but a process” that needs “not a map but a history. . . . There is something new to be chronicled every day,” writes C. S. Lewis in A Grief Observed. When Carl Klaus’s wife of thirty-five years died suddenly from a cerebral hemorrhage, right before Thanksgiving in 2002, he took the only road toward recovery that made sense to him: he started writing letters to her, producing a unique history of grief, solace, and love. His vivid and thoughtful letters will resonate with everyone whose loss confronts them with emotional, psychological, and philosophical questions for which there are no easy answers.
During his first year without Kate, Carl writes himself into the life that comes after the life he loved. From days of grief in the darkness of a midwestern winter, to springtime, with a return to life in the garden and a memorial service for Kate on a sunny afternoon, to fall, with a pilgrimage to their favorite vacation spot in Hawaii, Carl documents his year-long experience of remembering, meditating, and evolving a new life. Individually his letters provide the insights of a master diarist; collectively, they have the arc of a master essayist.
Recording the full range of mourning from intense shock to moments of exceptional affirmation, Klaus’s stories and reflections on loss bear witness to universal truths about the first and most significant year of mourning.
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“Letters to Kate is truly a gift. The author, Carl Klaus, invites us to share in his intimate correspondence with his late wife, Kate, as he journeys in grief. The book offers a powerful portrait of the process of grief—the ups and downs, the contradictory and confused melange of thoughts and emotions. It offers validation and hope to all those who grieve and a sense of understanding to others who wish to befriend and support the journeyer.”—Kenneth J. Doka, professor, the College of New Rochelle, and senior consultant, the Hospice Foundation of America
“Frequently heartbreaking, always insightful, ultimately transcendent—Carl Klaus’s chronicle of his first year of grief reminds us that even after the longest winter, spring does eventually arrive. This book is destined to become a classic in the bereavement field.”—Hope Edelman, author, Motherless Daughters
“Letters to Kate is a moving, beautifully written, carefully crafted memoir of a widower dealing with his wife’s sudden death on a quiet November afternoon. It is a comforting experience for writer and reader alike, and an important contribution to the genre of loss narratives.”—Bertram J. Cohler, University of Chicago