Picks and Pans Review: Being a Widow

updated 11/14/1988 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 11/14/1988 01:00AM

by Lynn Caine

In 1974 Caine wrote the angry Widow, which explored the traumatic experiences that Caine, then a publicist and mother of two small children, encountered after the death of her husband from cancer. The book obviously hit a broad nerve; an estimated three-fourths of American wives outlive their husbands. During the years that followed the best-selling Widow, Caine became a guru for bereaved wives, giving lectures and writing two more books (Lifelines and What Did I Do Wrong?) on being alone. Last December, just days before she herself died of cancer, Caine finished this how-to-cope guide. Don't read it expecting greeting card philosophy or patronizing homilies. In 14 well-organized chapters Caine explores such issues as dating and sexuality, paying bills and being aggressive with rude friends. She includes lists of self-help groups, exercises that reduce stress and movies to rent that induce teary catharses (Terms of Endearment is effective, she suggests). Caine was indeed a widow's best friend, and this book, full of anecdotes from her life, provides comfort and sound guidance to women trying to carry on. Especially haunting is the epilogue, in which Caine talks bluntly about her own death and says, "I've decided that whatever time is left will be spent celebrating the life I have and trying to lighten the burden of those who will grieve for me." (Arbor House, $18.95)

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