Two Books About—and For—Widows

Gaye Clark | August 17, 2015

In 2001 doctors diagnosed Robert Ortega, a veteran firefighter of 22 years, with Lou Gehrig’s disease. For the next several years, his wife Susan and he lived with a death sentence. They watched Robert’s once strong body weaken to complete helplessness. After one particularly rough night, Susan “just knew” that day would be her husband’s last. Their youngest son Ben, 13, tightened his grip on his dad’s arm and said, “It’s okay, dad. You fought long enough.” And with that, Robert Ortega took his last breath.

Companion for Widows 

In Life After Breath: After Her Husband Takes His Last Breath, and After She Tries to Catch Hers, Susan Ortega VandePol chronicles her family’s journey through illness and loss, and her entry into widowhood. She calls the book a companion for widows. She hopes it enables widows to “look into grief and heal when others want to look away.”

The 40 short devotional-style entries offer poignant details of her husband’s death and ooze with Scripture and word pictures that bring theological truth into technicolor view. With the precision and care of a brain surgeon, VandePol uses God’s Word to cut us at strategic points throughout. 

VandePol has her certification in grief, crisis, and trauma counseling. But in reading Life

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