Skip to main content

Fatherless Women: How We Change After We Lose Our Dads


Fatherless Women: How We Change After We Lose Our Dads

I am a fatherless woman. My father has not died yet (at least as
far as I know), unlike the women at whom this book is aimed and
whose stories it contains, but I am fatherless all the same. And
while I will spare you the details and myself the memories of why I
am fatherless, I find it extremely important to review this book.
It helped me realize some things, and if it helped me --- someone
not in the focus audience --- it can certainly help those who

Although a bit dry, FATHERLESS WOMEN is a poignant exploration of
what happens when adult daughters lose their fathers. Filled with
first-person accounts and probing psychological exploration, it is
a work about the powers of love, anger, loss, and redemption that
face us all. Simon says at the beginning that "writing about [her]
father is as easy as wading through wet cement." What she does here
is nothing short of skillful in that wading.

Focusing primarily on the 18-month period immediately following the
loss of the father, the interviews are poignant and familiar to
many. As Simon says frequently throughout the book, more than half
of American women will experience this before they are 50 years old
and that they will lose their fathers years before their mothers.
Many of the changes that happen to the women interviewed are
immediate. The final chapter looks at the long-term effects, and
perhaps more of the book could have been devoted to this.

Certainly more than five pages. However, there is a fabulous
recommended reading list and an extensive bibliography. Although
there are no chapters dealing with abusive relationships or simply
"normal" relationships, strained and enduring, there are chapters
about how losing our fathers affects our choice in mate, our
relationships with our mothers and conversely their relationships
with themselves, and how Daddy makes us who we are, or are not,
professionally. We see self-image, patriarchal rule, family, and
mourning from a variety of perspectives. I found the introduction
most helpful in my search for healing from my father-loss.

I have just witnessed my mother lose her father --- my beloved
grandfather --- for the second, and last time. It was an experience
that taught me a lot about both her and my own relationship with my
father. All of us have very complex men as fathers. The thing one
learns with FATHERLESS WOMEN is how to see them as human again.
When our fathers are no longer actively present in our lives, we
can begin to see them as a separate entity, and therefore can begin
to see their effects on us. We will always be our fathers
daughters. We simply need to learn, according to Simon, "how to
merge this role with that of the women we may become."

The most important lesson in this book is that the father-daughter
relationship has lifelong ramifications, and the ripple effect of
the loss of this relationship reaches every aspect of our

   --- Reviewed Josette Kurey

Reviewed by on January 21, 2011

Fatherless Women: How We Change After We Lose Our Dads
by Clea Simon

  • Publication Date: September 14, 2001
  • Genres: Nonfiction
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: John Wiley & Sons
  • ISBN-10: 0471410063
  • ISBN-13: 9780471410065