The Bear's Embrace: A Story of Survival
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The Bear's Embrace: A Story of Survival

3.75 of 5 stars 3.75  ·  rating details  ·  195 ratings  ·  33 reviews
On a chilly autumn morning in 1983, during a relaxing escape to the Canadian Rockies, Patricia Van Tighem and her husband were attacked by a grizzly bear. Although they survived, their ordeal was just beginning. For years Van Tighem endured numerous surgeries as doctors attempted to reconstruct her face and ease her pain. The nightmares that haunted her carried their own p...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published February 4th 2003 by Anchor (first published September 1st 2001)
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I bought The Bear's Embrace after hearing Ann Kingman talk about it on Books On The Nightstand Episode #38, Remarkable Lives...

I knew when I started this book that it would be painful to read, so why put myself through it? I thought it might give me an insight into what it takes to survive and thought surely it would end feeling hopeful. It was not to be as simple as that. .

Each reader will take something different from The Bear's Embrace. For me, that Patricia Van Tighem can share her story in...more
This book both terrified and touched me so deeply, I finished reading it in less than 24 hours. I live in the same city as the author, and also have a adventurous spirit, therefore many of the locations and hikes she describes in the book are places i have been, places close to home for me. I, like trish and trevor, visit the mountains often for hikes and skiing. For this reason, this story terrified me, thinking that such a horrific experience could quite literally happen to anyone. Hearing on...more
Judy Herzanek
This story is so much more than what I was expecting. What Patricia endured is truly mind-boggling. Her journey is written in a way that is honest, transparent and straightforward. Her struggle was just as much, a mental one as well as physical.

The author was able to pack so much into some of the very short paragraphs. I found myself going back to re-read parts, slowly thinking and imagining what things were like for her.

As a society, we are so often used to reading stories of triumph and overco...more
This book is a moving account of a woman who was used as a chew toy by a grizzly bear. Ms. Van Tighem went through hell!! Not only was she fighting the pain and nightmares of the bear attack, she was also in an even more gruelling (well at least in my mind anyway) battle with healthcare and the systems (plural as she used healthcare in different provinces and countries) supposedly designed to help people.

It is no secret that Ms. Van Tighem's demon of pain and depression finally won out. The surp...more
The author and her husband--a nurse and a doctor--went hiking in 1983 a happy-go-lucky young couple in their mid-20s. In the midst of their hike, they were attacked by a grizzly and were fortunate enough to make it to medical facilities in time for their lives to be saved. Unfortunately, this was just the beginning of their return to passably "normal" lives. The bear nearly destroyed both the carotid and the femoral arteries of her husband, but he eventually regained the use of all his limbs and...more
Maudeen Wachsmith
Patricia "Trish" van Tighem - a vicacious, pretty young nurse and her pediatric resident husband of three years are out hiking when they are mauled by a grizzly bear. This is the story of the ensuing 15 years including the many surgeries Patricia went through and her depression that ensued as a result of the pain she has had to endure along with the disfiguration caused by the attack.

Trish and Trevor had everything going for them when they, two experienced backpackers, took a well-deserved week...more
Molly Shubert
Very honest and revealing of internal processes. I got stuck in the repetition, though; I'm sure the author did too, in her life; however I longed for some kind of resolution or further depth by the end of the story.
Jennifer Miera
I thought I had poorly rated and reviewed this book when I read it years ago, but it appears I didn't write a review of it at the time. I recall that I got rather fed up with Van Tighem's inability to function even years after her attack, but now, I'm reconsidering. When I think about how even mere images from the news or horror movies can haunt me for ages, I can definitely feel for her and her experience. After having a bear rip your face off, blind and disfigure you, and having to live in chr...more
This was very well written - not an easy read. I cried with her and for her, for all that she had to endure. The courage of this woman is jaw dropping, inspiring. I think everyone who looks after the sick and injured should read this book. It is so insightful to how not to deal with severe trauma patients. I'll just add another Wow because I haven't really processed the whole story yet, I think this one story will settle deep inside, providing a subconsious emotional well that will be drawn upon...more
Patricia Van Tighem and her husband survived a horrendous grizzly bear attack. This is a story of coping in the aftermath. She endured many, many surgeries in the years following the attack, bouts of severe depression, regular nightmares and constant stares when in public because of her scars. It's definitely not an uplifting, positive book but her story is an eye-opener to the dangers of the wild, dealing with depression and the stigma in society of physical scars, blemishes and disfigurement.
Vincent Desjardins
This story of a woman who survived a grizzly bear attack is one of the most gripping true-life tales I have ever read. I came away with so much admiration for this brave woman who, following the attack, endured years of illness and depression, all the while trying to raise four children and be a loving wife. So desperate will you be to find out how her story ends, that I can almost guarantee you will not want to put this book down. An unforgettable testimony to one remarkable woman’s spirit.
it is full of tragedy; so that is really sad; but i LOVE to read about how people deal with REALLY hard tragedies. i am nearly always inspired and am helped to deal with the difficulties in my life. that is what this book did. it is a pretty amazing book. i REALLY liked reading it, even though it is sad; because, like, i said, it was very inspirational, too. and just reading about the outrageous experiences that patricia went through was VERY interesting.
This book is a fascinating read, but at times a difficult one. The author survives a grizzly bear attack, and endures multiple surgeries and long hospital stays to recover from the damage inflicted by the bear. She ends up suffering from severe PTSD and debilitating depression as a result, which comes through heavily in the later chapters, but it's still an amazing story. Apparently the author eventually committed suicide. Very sad.
Terrifying, heartbreaking...what she went through is tragic. I found this really hard to read, despite it being written so well...the hike that she gets attacked on is one I did earlier this summer. We hike often with our kids and I just couldn't get the "what ifs" out of my head. Obviously even sadder is that she eventually committed suicide in 2005, after years of operations and pain.
Very sad story, but I like reading about real life struggles of the human process. We all struggle differently, and when we come out on the other end stronger, it's beautiful. Unfortunately she fights with an unbearable depression and awful anxiety after being attacked by a grizzly...and she fights it the rest of her life...
An vivid account of a grizzly attack in Wateron Lakes National Park. Waterton is one of my very favorite places on earth and is where Dave and I were married. This particular attack takes place at Crypt Lake, a notoriously beary place in the park. The story takes you through the LONG healing process of the victims.
Dec 03, 2009 Wendy rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Wendy by: books on the nightstand
Recommended by Ann and Michael of Books on the Nightstand, I read this book from start to finish in one sitting
I really appreciated the author's intimate sharing of her mental suffering and was quite taken in by the story. Such a personal story. Read if you like understanding how others endure tragedy.
Fascinating yet disturbing. Would read again and recommend. An true story of survival by a woman who was attacked by a grizzly bear. Title comes from Indian legend a nurse once told Patricia . . . those who survive a bear attack absorb the power of the bear.
Attacked by a grizzly bear, the author, in a very unique writing style, tells her story during and after the attack, and including the long years of her recovery from her horrific face and head mutilations. This was a book I found hard to put down.
Very interesting book on how much a person can be changed by the tragedies that happen to them and how the affects can linger forever. I have a terrible fear of bears so this was even more complelling to me.
If you are like me and enjoy a gory survival story from time to time, you will like this one. I don't mean to make light of this woman's ordeal at all. Remarkable courage and love and perseverance here.
Fernie Heritage
Compelling and sad story about survival from a grizzly bear attack. This was a page turner and has a lot of interesting information (this particular event happened in Waterton National Park).
Catherine Handren
The mental response to a bear attack in vivid detail. You think you know depression? Read this. I never really took post-traumatic stress syndrome seriously before.
Kathy Regehr
Loved the book because I have hiked this trail a number of times. Sad for the people of this story, and that this beautiful place will never be that for them.
Good book. True story. Don't read it if you're afraid of bears and live in bear country. This woman went through hell and back.
This is a painfully honest and harrowing account of years-long PTSD and physical suffering in the wake of a grizzly bear attack.
Dawn Rose
Dark, depressing, and real. A true-to-life, no sweetener added account of survival and mental illness.
Ciara Ramsden
An amazing account of a grizzly mauling. Could not put it down, have recommended it many times.
I read this book probably 4 years ago and it's still vivid in my mind.
This poor woman's life changed forever and that of her family.
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