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Van Tighem, Patricia 1958–2005

Van Tighem, Patricia 1958–2005

(Patricia Anne Van Tighem)

OBITUARY NOTICE—See index for CA sketch: Born August 22, 1958, in Calgary, Alberta, Canada; committed suicide December 14, 2005, in Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada. Nurse and author. Van Tighem gained attention with her autobiographical account of how she and her husband were mauled by a grizzly bear in 1983. After studying nursing at Mount Royal College in Calgary, she was on a hiking trip with her husband when they were attacked by a mother bear protecting her cubs. Van Tighem climbed a tree to try and escape, but the bear dragged her down, seriously crushing her face and causing the loss of an eye and irreparable nerve damage. Years of pain and reconstructive surgery—some thirty operations in all—would follow. Her husband survived with less-severe injuries. Nevertheless, Van Tighem tried to go on with her life. She completed a bachelor's degree at the University of Victoria in 1989 and gave birth to four children. One of her children was born with Down syndrome, and this led to her being active in a program to help such children. She also was involved in About Face, establishing the Calgary chapter of the nonprofit group that helps patients with facial disfigurements. She did all this while working as a nurse in Calgary at Foothills Hospital. Her book, The Bear's Embrace: A Story of Survival (2001), sold very well and received positive critical attention. Despite her efforts to carry on with her life, the pain and depression finally proved too much for her and in 2005 she took her own life.



Independent (London, England), January 18, 2006, p. 33.

Los Angeles Times, December 25, 2005, p. B13.

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