'American Sniper' Widow Comes To San Diego To Discuss Life, Loss

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'American Sniper' Widow Comes To San Diego To Discuss Life, Loss

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'American Sniper' Widow Comes To San Diego To Discuss Life, Loss

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Courtesy: Taya Kyle

U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle is pictured walking with his two children in this undated photo.

“American Sniper” widow Taya Kyle is in San Diego this week to share her experience with life and loss.

Kyle, who documents her experience in the memoir, "American Wife: Love, War, Faith and Renewal," was celebrated Monday at the USS Midway Museum. The book covers her relationship with “American Sniper” Chris Kyle, their family life and how she is dealing with his death.

Chris was a highly decorated U.S. Navy Seal who spent four tours in Iraq, killing more than 160 enemies. His story is depicted in the film "American Sniper,” which is based on his memoir of the same name.

His widow's book details the couple's decade-long marriage, which survived the war that took Chris Kyle away from his family for long stretches of time.

Taya Kyle said she and her husband often spoke about what would happen if he were to die while on deployment.

“It was different every deployment,” Kyle told KPBS Midday Edition on Tuesday. “For him, being a warrior, and a lot of warriors feel this way, if you were to die on the battlefield that would be an honor.”

Over time, she said, she learned to “tuck away the fear.”

Chris was fatally shot at a Texas shooting range in February 2013. In her memoir, Kyle recounts telling her children about the death of their father:

Bubba sat on my right knee and Angel on my left. I took a deep breath.

"Um." I was already crying. "Daddy's hurt," I told them.

They looked at me. I closed my eyes.

"Is he dead?" blurted Angel.

I opened my eyes and nodded yes. She let out a cry that came from her gut. Bubba's eyes glassed over and tears poured out. I held them both close. "I'm sorry, guys. I'm so sorry."

We stayed there for minutes or hours. Finally, Bubba asked if we could go inside.

"Yes," I told him.

Inside, everyone had given us space; the living room was empty. We sat on the couch and I told them what happened.

"Daddy was helping someone," I said. "There was something really, really wrong with that person and his brain. He shot and killed Daddy and Mr. Chad."

Karen Schoenfled-Smith, a psychologist with the San Diego Vet Center, said the grief a person feels with a sudden death is different than a person dying from an illness.

“It’s a very difficult way to get the news,” said Schoenfled-Smith, who counsels families. “It’s shocking. It puts your life on hold. It puts you on an emotional rollercoaster.”

She said local service members can receive free bereavement services at its centers in Point Loma, Chula Vista and San Marcos.

Support Hotline

Service members who need assistance dealing with grief are urged to call the Department of Veterans Affairs Bereavement line at (202) 461-6530 for a referral to the San Diego Vet Center.

Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors (TAPS)

(800) 959-8277

Military One Source

(800) 342-9647

Video

American Sniper -Trailer

A trailer of the film "American Sniper," which tells the story of U.S. Navy Seal Chris Kyle. Courtesy Warner Bros. Pictures

KPBS web producer Hoa Quach contributed to this report. Excerpt reprinted with permission from HarperCollins Publishers.

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