A retired Southbury doctor’s book explores the complexity of grief, with ‘wisdom from the kitchen table’

SOUTHBURY – Marianne Bette had no plans to write another book after her 2016 memoir about the loss of her first husband – but like many things in life, it happened unexpectedly.

In her latest book, ‘Living with a Grieving Heart’, the Southbury resident and retired doctor explores the different ways people experience and deal with grief.

Bette said it’s not a how-to book, but a collection of stories that show that grieving is not a linear process and that dealing with loss can take work.

“We all go through this at some point – someone important to us dies and the grieving begins,” she said. “The stories in the book show how people grieve, what happens to them, and how they manage to get through these difficult times.”

Drawing on her 40 years of experience as a family physician and her personal experiences with grief, Bette said she spent about six months writing “Living with a Grieving Heart” in a style that she describes as “kitchen table wisdom”.


“I don’t give stats or tell you how to do this or that,” Bette said. “It’s more like we sit down, talk about this and see where you are at.”

As well as exploring the varied and sometimes hard-to-describe feelings of loss, she says her latest book contains stories about people who have found a way to move forward and “emerge victorious.” after losing someone important.

It also includes words of encouragement for people going through the grieving process, said Bette, whose personal experiences of loss are the reason she started writing.

Her first book, “Living with a Dead Man,” was a memoir about the final year of her first husband’s battle with cancer and how she and her daughters dealt with his death in 2003. Before marrying her husband, she had been engaged to someone else, but her fiancé died in a minor plane crash.

Bette said she didn’t think of writing another book until one of her patients encouraged her to do so and said something that stuck with her.

“She said, ‘Dr. Bette, dying is easier than grieving,’ and she’s right. It’s harder because there’s no end point,” Bette said. you know someone is going to die, you at least get to the point where that happens – but it’s not the same with grief.”

Bette said she hopes her new book will help people understand that grief is a natural process and that it’s important to “work towards some kind of acceptance and get to a better place without the people you we lost”.

“A lot of people are hurting and not telling anyone – and that’s really not the best way out,” she said. “If there’s something in the book that helps and resonates with people, then my job is done.”

Bette said one thing she’s learned over the years is that a loss can be good.

“Grieving the loss of someone means you were lucky to have someone really important in your life, and that’s a blessing,” she said. “We should recognize how lucky we were to have had them in our lives and seek out what we are meant to learn from this experience.”

Emerald Lake Books, based in Sherman, published Bette’s two books. More information on “Living with a Grieving Heart” can be found at emeraldlakebooks.com/living-with-a-grieving-heart.

Sharon D. Cole