Sunday, May 8, 2011

The Long Goodbye

4 out of 5

Meghan O'Rourke's memoir, The Long Goodbye, is a very sad and beautifully touching memory of her mother's battle with cancer and eventual death and Mehgan's loss. This is the fourth memoir that I have read and reviewed on death and loss of a very close loved one in the last 5 years. I guess you could say that I have been looking for answers that were not presenting themselves to me otherwise regarding loss and grieving. With each one, I have confirmation of my own feelings of loss and endless grief that have been otherwise very difficult to put into words.

Early in the book, she says "When we are learning the world, we know things we cannot say how we know. When we are relearning the world in the aftermath of a loss, we feel things we had almost forgotten, old things, beneath the seat of reason." These are the kinds of things that we find impossible to share with those even very close to us. It was how I felt when I lost my son 5 years ago and I still feel that way today. I was glad to read that she felt the five stages of grief were a deceiving chart that did not necessarily flow in order and did not go through all stages for everyone and that most of us "grieve in private, at night, alone."

The only part of the book that I struggled through was after the death of Meghan's mother, Barbara, was when Meghan went through the review of the text versions of loss and grief. I liked who her mother was and would have loved to continue to read the stories of her life and her relationship with her family and friends. Finally she finds when she has therapy, and continues to search through texts on dealing with grief that she is not fitting the examples of grief patterns. It is interesting how each person's journey is so different and I am glad that I continued to read to come to her acknowledgement that "I will carry this wound forever. It's not a question of getting over it or healing. No; it's a question of learning to live with this transformation." It is a great message for everyone. As a young writer experiencing grief that her contemporaries may not experience for many years to come, she gives a voice that will resonate with many across all ages.

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