VIRGINIA BEACH, Va. - More than 20 years ago, Joanne Steen's husband died. He was a Navy pilot, dying tragically when his helicopter went down over the Lynnhaven River.
Instead of letting her grief consume her, Steen used it to help others. She went back school, enrolling at Old Dominion University to become a counselor to help others. After 9/11, she says she and a friend felt compelled to write a book to help military widows.
"I knew I didn’t want to write a memoir. I didn’t need to write my story; what I needed to write was a book for those people like me, who came across all these different things and didn’t understand," explained Steen.
While speaking about "Military Widow: A Survival Guide" at an event, she says she learned that another group of people also needed help.
"I was giving a speech and there were Gold Star mothers in the audience. One of them, after my remarks said, 'Well, when are you going to write a book for us?" And that is when the idea was born."
Steen's second book, "We Regret To Inform You. A Survival Guide for Gold Star Parents and Those Who Support Them," releases Tuesday. Steen says this book was even more difficult to write than her first.
"It’s the most difficult project I ever worked on," she explained. "To listen to parents and to interview them, it's an overwhelming loss and I got to understand that first hand."
While the book was a learning experience for her, she hopes her new book will be a resource for parents and Gold Star family members who feel like they have lost their whole world.
"I hope it gives them validation and they read it and say, 'Yeah, that was me.' 'Oh, I thought I was the only one going through this.' I hope it gives them the understanding of why they feel the way they do. I hope it can be for them a way to survive."
Steen's books can be ordered online at the Grief Solutions website.