Book Project



“There’s a Dead Dad’s Club and you’re not in it ‘til you’re in it…I’m sorry you had to join the club.”

Dr. Christina Yang – “Grey’s Anatomy”

I lost my father in 2001 to stomach cancer, I was 29 years old, he was 69. Life as I knew it was shattered into a million pieces; I simply fell apart. At the time, I searched for solace in self-help books and therapy sessions, but what really helped me was writing about it in my journals, speaking to other women who could relate and of course, the passage of time.

Two years after he passed away I wrote down an idea for a book that could help lift women up while they were nursing the hole in their heart. My idea was to gather stories, poems, journal entries etc, written by women who had lost their dad and publish them. A book that women of all ages could turn to in their time of grief, for a word of encouragement, of joy, of inspiration. A warm hug of sympathy at a time of deep despair.

Now, five years after having my initial idea, a sequence of serendipitous events has led me to rekindle the idea. I am working on it fastidiously, full steam ahead (during kids’ naps and at night). My first step was to ask my friends and family who have lost their dads to contribute. They in turn have told people and as I move forward, more and more women keep popping up that want to be involved. The initial responses from all the women have been overwhelmingly positive. I just know that this book is meant to be.

My next step is to begin writing about it in this blog. Who knows what kind of interest I will drum up in cyberspace…

I have included below some of my initial thoughts about the book and what I hope to accomplish. I am looking for submissions from any and all women who have lost their dad, any age and any circumstance. The pain is universal but each individual story is unique.

I loved my Dad more than anything. I miss him more than words.  And that is the main impetus for creating this book.  It’s an ode to my father…to all the lost fathers out there.  And it’s a therapeutic glass of wine with women of “the club” who want to commiserate and celebrate their loss, together.  I want it to be as beneficial for those that are contributing, as it is for those that read it.   I want them all to know it gets better.

It aches, it bleeds, it overwhelms…it gets better.

It’s universal, it’s uniquely your own…it gets better.

You’re not alone, it’s okay to have those feelings…it gets better.

It never goes away but it does get better.

If you are reading this and have lost your father, first and foremost I am sorry for your loss. If you would like to contact me about this project or send me a submission for consideration in the book please email me at If you are reading this and have not lost your father, go give him a hug and know that this book will someday exist for you if you ever need it.

Stories of loss, grief, redemption and joy
from Daughters who have lost their Dads

1) To offer solace and comfort to women that have gone through the devastating loss of their father.  To help them:
Know what they are feeling is normal
Know they are not alone
Know that it gets better

2) To bring together the women of “the club.”

3) To allow women contributing an avenue to release some grief in a positive way through their writings and commemorate their father in a timeless manner.

4) To explore and portray the precious relationships between dads and daughters.

5) To juxtapose the universality of grief as well as the uniqueness of everyone’s individual stories

6) To raise money for and awareness of Hospice.

1) I want to turn my “pity party” into something positive.
2) Pay if forward and make my dad proud.
3) To help myself and others feel close to our dads again.

First Round Submissions Deadline – December 11t, 2008

Second Round Submissions Deadline – January 21st, 2009



33 Responses

  1. Mary: Shari Millman is our VP of OPerations at PRA HQ. She shared wtih me the story of your book and I think it’s great. I am going to e-mail you several things and you can feel free to share them in your book. My father was my very best friend. Three weeks after I started at PRA, we had our National Sales Meeting and I got and sang a song I had written for my dad’s 80th birthday party. Six months later, he was dead.
    I JUST started dating a guy 6 months ago. It’s the first relationship I have had since my dad died. So much of me died with him. He was so beautiful. I will send you a photo snail mail if you send me your address.
    Your new friend,

  2. I really do appreciate all your efforts and all the beautiful women out there that will be contributing to the book project. I promise to submit an entry very very soon… I have written it about 100 times in my head… but it still is not on paper. Thank you for your time an energy that you are putting into this project. What a wonderful Christmas gift to my Daddy in heaven. Also, I have a co-worker who has a friend that may be interested. I will be sure to share this web address with them.
    love, alexis.

  3. I look forward to reading your entry Alexis. Love you girl!

  4. hi,
    I just landed on your blog via your comment on Mrs. G’s website, and this topic grabbed me. I have had to clean my glasses three times now and wipe my eyes even more just reading the description of your project. I am a member of The Club. 8 years now and it hurts as much now as it did then. And I’m gonna have to clean the glasses AGAIN b4 I end this! yiikes. So I am not a writer, yet, and I am a very green blogger. But I would like to find out more about this project, in terms of how to contribute. Should I just type it all out and send it to you? What do I do?
    God bless you for this project. Mine is a complicated story and while I do have a brother and sister who lost the same father, we have each dealt (or not dealt) with it in very different ways. I have yet to find someone who I can grieve with as a daughter who has lost her father.

  5. Thank you so much for sharing and posting! Your comment is the reason why I am doing this project! I want women to connect on this subject because the grief is deep and raw. I tear up nearly every time I talk to about my dad or anyone else’s for that matter.
    I would love to hear more about your father and your experience and I would love to have you contribute to the book. Feel free to email me at
    btw, I too am green at blogging and I have never been much of a writer so this whole world is quite foreign to me. But I feel very passionately about this subject and this project and what better way to reach people in this day and age but through cyberspace?
    Cheers to you!

  6. […] Book Project […]

  7. I found you through NaBloPoMo and joined the club there. But so deep is my daily ache of grief that I came here to read more. This is a wonderful endeavor you are doing here. There have been times when I have wondered if maybe I am the odd one out, that other people could get over losing their fathers. Apparently not. Thank you. Today is has been a comfort to know there are others.

  8. I’m excited about your book project. I apologize for taking so long and needing a kick in the pants to come on over and read about it.
    I’d love to submit something for your consideration.
    I’m working on a post for NaBloPoMo that should run soon. I’m weighing my words carefully because it’s only the second time I’ve written openly about my late father. So, after I post it to my blog, I’ll contact you or put something on NaBloPoMo site related to it.

  9. So glad you’re interested in the project. I look forward to reading about your Dad!

  10. It was great speaking with you today. I lost my father 5 years ago and its still hard, but it does get better. I live in the house where my father grew up. I live in an area where we have a bay in front of the house and that is where we spread his ashes per his request. he said he always wanted to be here, the best place on Earth 🙂 He loved this place. I do too.
    As I look out and see the fog rolling in, I can still see the white balloons my sister, brother and I released with his ashes while on the surf boards in the middle of the freezing bay in January! What were we thinking! No wet suits, crazy, but that’s what Dad wanted. I miss him so much, thank you for doing this.
    It will be an honor to contribute. You are such a wonderful person and many congrats.
    I will have a submission for you soon and ask my sister to as well, she still has a difficult time Especially around January ( when he went home to Heaven ) and Dad’s birthday.

  11. So glad you’re on board Fabi. Great talking to you today, we’ll talk soon. xo

  12. I lost my father when I was 16, he was 48. He was flying to a professional conference in Ohio. His plane took off from a small airport in NW Milwaukee. They circle west and developed engine trouble. the radioed the tower and told them that they were coming back. The tower saw the smoke and new what had happened. The plane landed behind my uncles house on a busy street. They landed on a car. My aunt went out to talk to the reporters. When she found out what company the plane was from she wanted to know who was on the plane since her brother-in-law worked there. My father’s name was the first one read.

    I remember my sister coming to school to pick me up and tell me what happened. We then went to the elementary school to pick up my youngest sister.

    My mother was left a widow at 42 with five daughters, three in college. She did not get my father’s pension because he was not 55. The laws have since changed.

    This tore my family apart. We all struggled with our emotions. The worst thing is that everyone kept telling us to not cry because we had to be strong for our mother. I received no councelling and never cried.

    My father never saw any of us graduate from college, get married and never saw any of his grandchildren. I remember one time when my daughter was playing “Jesu Joy of Man’s Desiring” on the harp at church. I was thinking that I wish that my father had been there to hear this. I realized that he was there and he heard her.

    My son has become an engineer and is very much like my father that it is scarey. I see so many of his mannerisms in my son.

  13. I want and need to share my story – but seeing as how postings on the internet can be so dated, please give me a deadline. I don’t want to miss the opportunity, or learn that your project is finished! Thank you.

    My story is from a 50-ish mother’s point of view, who lost her father at age 15. I now have a daughter who is a former Miss. (I don’t have a website, but included her photo website from her year.) Thanks

  14. I am also interested. Like Carla I would like to know your deadline and timelines, and a little more information about the format of the book.

    I am part of the club–lost my father at age 6 but it has affected my whole life.

  15. Thank you for this opportunity. I became part of this club 35 years ago. Did it affect my self-esteem growing up without a father? You bet it did, especially since my step-father proved to be a poor substitute. My story is from a 45-yr-old woman’s POV who lost her father at age 10 (he was only 36). I see so much of him in my brother (who was only 2 when he died) and my son who continues to ask questions about “Grandpa Johnny”. I sent you an e-mail with some logistical questions, then I stumbled upon this blog site where it appears others have the same questions. Thanks in advance for getting back to us.

  16. The deadline for submissions is December 11th, although it can be extended if needed. Glad you’re interested. I’ll email you.

  17. The second installment of my dad story posted on my blog today, Dec. 5. It’s not been easy to write as it drew up feelings I’ve not had to deal with in years. But in the end it was a good journey for me to take again. I’ll probably do more writing about him in the future. There are so many facets to any one person it’s hard to sum it all up in one post. Thank you for providing the inspiration/motivation to do this. Let me know if you need anything further

  18. Good luck with publishing – it will come to fruition. Dream big, m’dear, dream big!

  19. Will submit something after Christmas

  20. What a wonderful idea!!! I lost my father almost 6 years ago and have kept wondering if maybe I was the only one who had the feelings or moods for lack of a better word. I have to say thank you for doing this. Not only am I sure it will lift a lot of our spirits but it will be something wonderful! I would definitely send you something!

  21. I look forward to reading your submission. Thank you!

  22. We must be kindred spirits. I’ve been blogging about my father’s dementia and eventual death (Nov. 7, 2008). If you go to my blog, check out The Crying Room.

    I think your book will do a lot of good for a lot of folks.

  23. After reading all of the comments and your Book project, it is comforting to know that we all have the same kind of feelings and there is the same sense of loss. I have been “dealing” with the loss of my father since I can remember. And then the loss of a wonderful step-father 11 years ago. It sure does not get easier however it does get better with time. I had to go through a lot of anger to deal with the absence of my real dad in my life growing up. I’ll share more of that later. I am sure your book can help all of us to heal and if there is still time, I would possibly like to contribute also………thank you for sharing and allowing me to share with you…….all of you.

  24. Laurie, I would love to have you contribute something. I will be in touch in an email. Thanks so much for reaching out.

  25. It is almost six years to the day since my father had a massive heart attack. He died on his birthday. I remember thinking ,”who dies on their birthday of all days?”

    I don’t put my thoughts together very well, and tend to ramble on, so I don’t think that my story would be something that would be worth using in your book. But I wanted to say “THANK YOU,” At the time of his sudden death, I had just moved to a new state and started a new job. I was “out of sorts” to begin with and then had to add his death on top of it all. I tried grief groups, but didn’t feel like ANYONE understood what it was liked to loose their father at 25. I was mad at my circumstances and bascially shut down and stopped talking about it. As grief always does, if you don’t deal with it, it started coming through in different ways. I eventually found myself with a full blown exercise addiction and an eating disorder. I have since gotten that under control, and learned to deal with my grief in more “conventional” ways. But if there was a book around this this, It would have made a HUGE difference to me.

    So thank you for thinking enough of others to want to pursue this, and I will be one of the first ones to buy it!

  26. I just lost my father, 82 years old, the day after Thanksgiving.

    I still find myself falling apart at the smallest things. Sometimes, I can tell stories about him and laugh. Stories like, at 75 years old his project was to build his own house (which he did). Or, a couple of days before his stroke he moved his ice fishing house onto a trailer. My brother-in-law and husband are puzzled at how he could have moved this 500lb structure onto a trailer that is two feet off the ground all by himself.

    He had a major stroke on November 22th. I flew from Virginia to North Dakota as soon as I could. Although he was unconscious, my four sisters and I talked to him hoping he could hear us. I would read my book to him all night. We all took shifts, so someone would always be there.

    On Monday the doctor took us into a private room and told us that if dad did become conscious the best scenario would be that he would be bedridden and would have to be spoon feed. This was not what Dad would have wanted, so my Mom had to agree to take him off life support per his living will. That was a tough decision for all of us.

    After taking him off support, he seemed to just be asleep. He was making sounds like he was snoring. (Just like he did when he fell asleep in front of the TV) The doctor informed us that this was because his brain was still sending signals to breath and that was normal.

    We continued to take shifts all day and night. On Thursday November 28th around 2:00am, three of my sisters saw he stopped breathing. The nurse came and told them that he had past.

    That night we still celebrate my sister’s 50th birthday. Hindsight, this was a good decision. We played a game to see who knew her the best by answering questions. We were all able to laugh.

    I have a special picture of him I carry around with me. He is walking towards the camera. In the background is the grain bins on the farm. He is holding a tool in one hand and has a huge smile on his face. This picture shows who he was. My dad was a farmer and his farm meant everything to him. The tool speaks of how he enjoyed working all the way to the end. The smile reminds me of what his family and friends commented as his infectious laugh.

    I now think how I should have visited and called him more.

    You can still read about our days during this time on:
    website name: rudolphschramm

  27. Hi, Mary! I think your book idea is great. I would like to submit something for you consideration. Feel free to contact me at the email I gave when leaving this note. My father has been gone now for almost three years, and I still sit and bawl sometimes. I miss him so much. We were expecting his death after his extended illness, but the expectation does not lessen the pain and emptiness. The only thing I have to hang on to is the fact that I did call and visit often…we spoke the day he died and he was in such good spirits. I have that happy memory and many others, but I would love to be able to pick up the phone and hear his gruff voice once again. He was 59 years old. The hardest part is keeping my mother sane in the midst of my own pain.

  28. Dear Mary,
    My dad died on September 2,, 2008 at age 82 four months after his wife of 25 years passed away. 2008 was quite a year for funerals. I live in California, and Dad spent 12 weeks in intensive care in two different hospitals on the East coast. I don’t remember spending much time with my children over the spring and summer, as I commuted to New York and Baltimore. Dad spent every day in intensive care, always on a respirator. Achingly sad, as his reason to enter the hospital and undergo open heart surgery was to “be able to breathe”. . A stoic, North Dakota-raised Eagle Scout, his determination to recover and return home never wavered. At 6’5″, Dad was an enormous, quiet, patient, principled man. One of the most difficult aspects of enduring a parent’s death is the interactions with your siblings. At time it was uplifing, at other times it was unbearable. Pain at the prospect of loss can create intense and unexpected emotions in others, leading them to say things you never expect. My mother died in 1981, and no matter what, the memory is very strong. My in-laws died in 2004 and 2006. So, my knowledge of the death-and-dying process and the miracles and limits of medical care, along with my career in the biotechnology industry, made me excrutiatingly sensitive to each step along the way. It was terrifying to be able to predict certain phases of Dad’s slow decline and I hated my knowledge sometimes. Concurrent with his hospitalization, my former step-family decided to sell the house he would’ve returned to, desptie promises and legal documents that this wouldn’t happen. Dad died never knowing that his beloved home was being sold. Like I said, people do very strange things when experiencing loss. Thank goodness Dad taught us to turn the other cheek. We became his fevernt protectors from that moment on. His funeral was a celebration of his life, for which we were grateful. I’d love to provide a piece for your book.

  29. Hi Julie,

    I just read this comment after reading your email. I am just for ALL of your losses. You are an incredibly strong woman and I am so honored to have you along on the journey with me and all the women of the book project. I look forward to reading your piece.


  30. Mary, remember me…Brandy’s step-mom. She told me about your project. I do want to respond…as I lost my dad when I was 25. It was very tragic, but his sudden death was the culmination of a long period of depression and alcohol abuse. I want to give a thoughtful response. So, I will send more.

    I am delighted that you are doing this, as the loss of a parent is such a trauma – especially, if the daughter has unresolved business with that parent (which most of us have).

    Your children are adorable, and I feel privileged to be grandmother to Brandy and Aaron’s children!

  31. Hi Sandy, Yes of course I remember you! So glad Brandy passed on my project info to you. I will send you an email to your personal address. Great to hear from you, though I am so sorry for your loss, all the many years ago, but still just as painful.

  32. Hey Mary – I am friends with Margie McCartney and she told me of your book. I think it is wonderful. My Dad just passed away this past Christmas Day and while it is still very raw I am going to try my best to get something together to send to you. I really want to be a part of this. He was a complicated man but a great Dad and he gave me so many opportunities that I will forever be thankful for that.

    I do know it will get better too. Thank you for doing this.

  33. Hi Mary,
    I love your idea of the book, I really appreciate having a place to share the loss of dads. I have 5 sisters and we lost our dad 6 years ago this December. He was our life, we have a wonderful mother too. Dad was the apple of our eyes and loved his daughters(and 2 sons) with all his heart. He had an abdominal aorta anurism. I last saw him on Thanksgiving weekend; I live in Fl. and he lived in GA. I always left to go home early in the morning and always went to his room and kissed he and my mom and told them I love them For some reason this one morning I did not wake dad, just mom and told her bye. I never got to say that to my dad again, got a call a week later to come quickly because they were taking him to surgery. He only lived 2 days after surgery and never woke up. We,especially me, sat by his side and I just told everyone to keep talking to him, he would be okay. The doctors finally foreced our family to make a decision to take him off support and we all stood holding his hand as he went to be with the Lord.
    I miss him so much and had such a hard time dealing until just recently when I heard Dr.Phil speak. He told this set of parents who had lost their child that until they let go the child could not truely experience Heaven. It made me stop and realize it was time for me to quit holding on, wha t he gave me here on earth can never be replaced but I would never want to keep him from the glory of heaven. I miss him so much, I can cry over him, but now I pray that he is at peace. My sisters and I are very close and we share and support one another through our tough times. It sometimes feels like you are the only person going through this, but it was very moving for me to read the same emotions from others. Thanks,

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