Seven parents, for whom the worst has happened – a beloved child has died – tell their stories. These parents were able to normalise their experiences and find friendship, understanding and hope in a bereavement support group. In writing down their journeys, they hope other grieving parents will realise that they are not alone, that they are not ‘going mad’ and that they can learn to ‘live again’.

There are no pat answers or experts’ theories here. These ordinary women have written a book that is different: it is raw, it is honest. They write about the daily struggle to rebuild shattered lives and mend broken hearts. Join them as they describe how they coped with the loss and grief which changed their lives and their families forever, and learned to live with their loss and, in time, to celebrate life again.

Listen to Johneen Atkinson discuss the book with Jesse Mulligan on RNZ National.

The Authors


Six of the co-authors of “A Piece of My Heart” from left to right:  Johneen Atkinson, Belinda Tafua, Anne Green, Donna Porter, Robyn Sievwright, Julie Cameron.


“In this sorely needed book, bereaved parents bravely give voice to their own stories of loss and grief. As voices “from the inside”, their real, honest and searingly painful accounts will resonate with the hearts, minds and spirits of other bereaved parents struggling to “relearn the world” after the devastating loss of their own child. This book is not prescriptive—the authors are not telling others how to feel or what to do. Instead, their reflections on their experiences over time, as joy and sorrow become “next-door neighbours”, vividly convey the overwhelming sorrow, and the ambiguity, complexity and far-reaching effects of grief in our lives. They also validate the diverse ways in which we each grieve and learn to live with grief, even within couples and families. An invaluable source of support for bereaved parents, this book is also a unique resource that I hope will engender much greater understanding of the worlds of bereaved parents by professionals and within our wider communities.
Margaret Nelson Agee - ONZM, PhD, Member of the International Work Group on Death, Dying and Bereavement

“It is not in the true nature of things that we should outlive our children. When the unbelievable happens – the loss of a child, or a sibling – the grief can be overwhelming for the whole family. This book traces the courage of a group of parents who lost a child and how they coped in various ways with their changed world. It is an uplifting account of how people survive the unexpectedness of the death of a child. Each writer met their agony bravely, and their stories are written with poignancy and love.”
Rae McGregor - New Zealand author and editor

“The simplicity, honesty and complete lack of artifice gives this special book enormous appeal.  Whilst it is a wonderful resource for parents everywhere who have lost a child, it is also completely relevant to anyone who has known grief and wondered whether they would every survive it. One of its many strengths comes from the fact that the writers come from quite different backgrounds, upbringings, home environments; yet their strength as a group comes through their grief.  There are unique insights into cultural and religious beliefs which are really helpful to the reader who does not belong to that culture or religion.   It is about understanding.  It is fascinating that each writer expresses their grief and journey through it, quite differently.  There is no ‘one size fits all; every experience is unique. I found this little book profoundly moving and challenging.  If there is anyone out there who has not known grief, then reading this will give them permission to identify with those who grieve -and not fear engaging.” 
Catherine Carter

“I want to thank you all for the wonderful gift you have given for sharing your story, I could hardly put your book down, it is beautifully written, so pure and authentic.  I couldn't wait to get to the next chapter and I was thinking “This book is written for my mother.” 

“Your beautiful book arrived this morning and I was transfixed (standing at the kitchen bench) while I read the introduction and first couple of chapters. Since then I have taken every opportunity to sit and continue reading it. I am treasuring every page even though reading it is not for the faint hearted. Very intense and very real, this book speaks of the bravery of putting one foot in front of the other.”