Grief Support
Comforting Someone
Wbat Happened?
Letter to Loved Ones
Author's International Work
Author's International Work
Author's International Work


GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding
by Phyllis Davies

Widely used, practical day-by-day guidelines combine with a magnetic story, gently leading grievers on a journey into their own feelings and healing. Readers climb with the author along the trail of her walk into peace and new meaning in life after the death of two children, the first as a baby, and later, her 13-year-old son in a commercial mid-air plane crash.

320 pages, 70 illustrations, paperback, four-color cover,
5th edition expanded
$19.95 ISBN 0-941343-39-1
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Specialists and readers are saying:

"When my brother was murdered, we used GRIEF, Climb Toward Understanding. The guidelines and other resources helped us. It gave us memorial service ideas. Later, the story helped my family as we climbed through the mountains of anger and grief to a more peaceful place."
                             - Delia Lancaster

"This beautifully written self-help book and the companion booklets should be available in all libraries."
                            - Judith Harding,
                               Coordinator of Resources,
                               National Center for Death Education

"GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding helped me when my beloved dog died. Again later, I found it surprisingly helpful during an unexpected divorce. I once again turned to it when I lost my hearing."
                             - Eve Adamson

"The resources and guidelines section as well as the healing qualities of this book have been invaluable tools to my patients, to my students and to me personally."
 - John J. Frey, M.D., Professor and Chair,
                                Department of Family Medicine,
                                University of Wisconsin - Madison

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When Someone Is Seriously Ill: What You Can Do
by Phyllis Davies

Day-by-day "can-do lists" guide you in ways to be truly supportive to a friend or loved one.

32 pages, 12 illustrations, paperback, four-color cover
$8.00 ISBN 0-941343-31-6
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What specialists and readers say:

"Wonderful and wise words. A wealth of information for the recruitment and training of volunteers for hospitals, home health agencies, hospices, support groups and religious communities."
 - The Rev. Richard B. Gilbert, D.Min., BCC
                                Executive Director, The World Pastoral Care Cente

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When Someone Dies: What You Can Do (out of stock)
by Phyllis Davies

These lists are day-by-day guidelines for being helpful to friends or loved ones.

48 pages, 12 illustrations, paperback, four-color cover
$9.00 ISBN 0-941343-32-4

What specialists say:

"There are many books on grief, and the seriously and terminally ill, but they generally seem to fall into one of two categories, books for the professional and then books that are more personal, first-person-oriented, for those on that journey. Rare and special are the books that bring both groups together in a way that benefits both. Gifted author Phyllis Davies, from her own integration of 'head and heart,' accomplishes that noble and needed goal."
                             - The Rev. Richard B. Gilbert, D.Min., BCC
                                Executive Director, The World Pastoral Care Center

What Specialists and Readers Are Saying:

"I use GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding, consistently as I help individuals and families. Its helping continues and the resource tools improve with each edition."

- Debra Henry, R.N., Hospice Service Coordinator,

Community Health System

"After reading GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding, I feel as if I've taken a shower and have been washed of much of my fear and anger, as I begin to live with the reality that my husband will be dead soon."

- Marjorie Rodriguez

"GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding, by Phyllis Davies . . . offers a healing mix of memory, and advice for dealing with the death of a loved one."

- Cathi Hanauer of Madamoiselle Magazine

"Right now your book is a life-line for me. Thank you for making me feel a little less alone after the sudden and unexpected death of our son Zachary. How could it be? How could all MY feelings be on the pages of GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding? Those were MY feelings, MY emotions, and they were so deep in MY soul — how could you know?

-Evelyn Clark



BE SURE TO READ THE LETTERS at the bottom of the
Comforting Someone page.

"Every once in a while a book comes along that breaks all the rules — it doesn't quite fit in any established category — but it sells and sells and sells because it fills a real need. GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding, is one of those books."

- David Cole, Founder, San Francisco Bay Area Book Festival

"Like a fire extinguisher for a fire — when a death occurs, GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding, with its helps and tools should be at hand in every home, library, church, business and school. I have found death of loved ones will likely ravage our, or a friend's, life before you or I will ever have a fire."

- Annie Zumba, Author & Artist

"When Someone Dies: What To Do was incredibly helpful when it was so difficult to even think and I had those hundreds of decisions to make."

- Bill Anderson

"GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding is a long overdue resource for clergy,
the medical community, and families."

- Father James, Hospital Chaplain

"Through reading this book, I now understand my own grief experience
far more clearly."

- Rev. Harry Starbuck 

"Every home should have a copy of these three books by Phyllis Davies on the shelf where they are immediately available when the need arises. I have used them frequently both professionally and personally."

- Pat Dewees, Psychologist

"This encouraging story is such a beautiful and refreshing look at recovering from tragedy. I wish I could adequately express how GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding speaks to my innermost being. It is helping me get in touch with many suppressed feelings. I am so grateful."

- Alice Smith

"GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding is magnetic. I've been inspired by this powerful, experiential, free-verse story of reconnecting with life after tragedy. I've used it many times in myself and with clients, and often give it as a gift to friends and loved ones."

- Linda Levery, Marriage and Family Therapist

"My most cherished Christmas gift was GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding. Their gift told me how very much they care about us. It is so comforting and helpful. It will be at my bedside for a long time."

- Nola Blackwell 

"This compelling story is intensely personal yet, at the same time, universal. I emerged, as the author did following her tragic loss, with a heightened appreciation of the joy of living."

- Melvyn R. Werbach, M.D., Diplomate, American Board of Psychiatry
   and Neurology, Clinical Professor, UCLA School of Medicine

"A gem of hope and help. The deep truths and exquisite beauty of this book have brought solace in my own grief. This level of wisdom is rare."

- Dr. John Peters, Nobel Peace Prize Nominee

"I find this lovely book more appropriate than flowers at the time of a death. Every home, psychiatrist, psychologist, counselor, library, business and church should have a copy on their library shelf where it is immediately available when the need arises. An inspirational and practical way to help others who are struggling."

- Ed Davis, Ph.D., Psychologist

"The GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding story goes to one's heart, and heals. The practical checklists give to dos, consoling words and confirmation that arehelpful in discovering that peace and purpose are possible again. This beautiful book also gives 100's of practical ideas to help you find the right words or action when you don't know how to help yourself or others."

- Marianne Williamson, Minister and Author, The Healing of America


"Last spring when my husband was going to have surgery, Mrs. Davies,

your unusual and wonderful book called to me with its beautiful cover. I enjoyed reading your vignette story and by the time Bill was in the recovery room, I had explored the amazing and helpful 100-page resource section.

"As he awakened from the anesthetic, I quietly read some of your healing words, especially "My Stream," and others in the chapters Perspective and Refocus, thinking they might help him shift his attitude about the changes in life he was facing.

"Later when he was fully awake, I began reading to him the adventure you relate of your adjustment to loss and the reframing process you share in those powerful short pieces of wisdom. Even in pain, Derek and your story held Bill's attention. "In those first days we reread his favorite sections and talked. He decided living each day as fully as possible was more important than how long one lives. Living with awareness and being loving to those around him began to bring Bill the joy and peacefulness he had searched for and missed in so many ways, much of his life.

"As we watched death come far more quickly than we had expected, I began to really get familiar with the 'To Do' sections. Bill went over all the questions in Important Information (to give and get NOW), Life-Support Systems Instructions, A Letter to My Physician. I checked the internet site and found "My letter to Family and Friends." I hope you'll include it in future editions of your book. He used the idea. Bill enjoyed sharing, and I wrote his words. **

"His life memories in that letter are his last loving gift to me and our children.

"Your book has been a very important tool in my life. But even more important, I believe your precious story gave Bill the life he had missed in all his years of living.

       "With my deepest appreciation,"

Book Reviews

Review by the Rev. Richard B. Gilbert
Executive Director, The World Pastoral Care Center

"Connections - Spiritual Links"

When Someone Is Seriously Ill (or Injured): What You Can Do by Phyllis Davies, Sunnybank Publishers and
When Someone Dies: What You Can Do by Phyllis Davies.
Sunnybank Publishers. Books can be ordered from the publisher at
P.O. Box 945,
San Luis Obispo, CA. 93406.
(805) 440-9346
(805) 544-6889 FAX

There are many books on grief, or the seriously and terminally ill, but they generally seem to fall into one of two categories: books for the professional and books that are more personal, first-person-oriented, for those on that journey. Rare and special are the books that bring both groups together in a way that benefits both. In two brief booklets, this gifted author, Phyllis Davies, from her own integration of "head and heart," accomplishes that needed goal.

Both books provide "practical information and guidelines" that offer nurturing, new direction, assessment, insight, and resources. The guidelines are not tasks, but invitations, handles along the way. We are given outreach, yet within reasonable boundaries, with information that helps us, maybe forces us, to look at ourselves and tend to ourselves.


"When Someone Is Seriously Ill (or Injured): What You Can Do" evolved from Phyllis's own struggles with the death of her son Derek, the challenges of her own learning disabilities that frustrate her efforts to read and write, and her constant presence with other people on a journey. This book moves from her larger story or journal "GRIEF: Climb Toward Understanding" to the experience with her friend Beth, and Beth brings us into the world of the seriously ill.

Some of it may seem elementary for the counselors who read it, but don't be fooled.

In this day of managed care and other limits on sessions and access for clients, this book gives good resources and guidelines that could prove very useful for both counselor and client. We are always told to listen. Davies comments, "Listen and act with intuition, heart and ears." Wonderful and wise words, and a reminder of the wealth of information you have here for the training of volunteers for hospitals, home health agencies, hospices, support groups and religious communities. It is practical, much more so than many previous and established programs that are either too long and costly, or embedded in theory that has lost its connection to the real world. See, for example, the sections on "Life-Support Systems Instructions," "Sample Living Will" (remember that they do vary from state to state), "A Letter to My Physician," and "Comforting Someone When Death May be Near."


"When Someone Dies: What You Can Do" is of equal value. Now, don't panic. It is really not about "doing," but a guide to more effective "being." She has a clever checklist of things to do at the time of a death and, with simple symbols, denotes within one list the tasks/opportunities for immediate family, friends or more distant relatives or for the funeral director, with special reminders when children are involved. A good minister, for example, would extract (with proper credit given) key items from this list and hand it to the family (along with the book) at the time of a death. When you have experienced a loss, a simple checklist can be very salutary. 

It was nice to see helpful hints on preparing an obituary, and, again, the reminder that the funeral director is there to help you. The only thing missing here was the caution that many newspapers now charge for obituaries by the word or the line. Many families do not know that.


For congregations or organizations seeking guidance on how to mobilize for pastoral care and bereavement presence, this book could prove very useful, and also correct any misinformation or misconceptions.

I liked the sections, "Comforting Someone Possibly Near Death," the blank page inviting you to write in "Ideas I want to remember and questions I want to ask," and "Notes on Children and Death."


These books are reasonably priced and also available at reduced rates for quantity purchases. Use them for yourselves, and as gifts or training for others.


This review was prepared by the Rev. Richard B. Gilbert, D.Min., BCC
Director of Chaplaincy Services
Sherman Hospital
934 Center Street
Elgin, IL 60120

Executive Director of The World Pastoral Care Center and Founding Director of Connections - Spiritual Links. Himself an accomplished author and speaker, he offers many programs and consultation services, including through WPCC, as well as Certified Bereavement Specialist Program training seminars. For information on any of these programs or resource services contact:
In addition, The World Pastoral Care Center World Pastoral Care Center website:


Recommended by
Centre for Living with Dying
and used at
National Death and Bereavement Education Library

books Chaca