Word of the Week – 15/01/16

Word of the Week – 15/01/16

The Long Goodbye
Meghan O’Rourke
Virago (5 April 2012)
Meghan and her family


The Long Goodbye is described as “Memoir of Grief” by Meghan O’Rourke. It follows Meghan’s difficult journey after the death of her beloved mother at just 55 years old – or should that be 55 years young?

You join Meghan on her journey through all the stages of grief – which she describes do not happen in the tidy and accepted order of denial, anger, bargaining, depression and acceptance; but rather in a messy disorganised process which never really fully ends.

After she describes in painful detail each stage of her mother’s illness, including the difficulty in going shopping with her mother for clothes knowing she will only wear them for a few weeks and the unbearable reality of knowing she will be “motherless”, Meghan struggles to grieve in a world which does not know how to manage death or dying. She envies those of a faith where there is a ritual of death; those who have a process of grieving.

The most poignant sentiment in this book for me, and the hardest hitting, was when Meghan was trying to cope with the loss of her beloved mother, she said – “The thing is, she’s the one who made me better when I felt like this. And that only makes it worse.”

I read this book on the recommendation from a dear friend following the death of my own mother. At that time (and perhaps even still!) I felt like I would never be “normal” again, that I was going out of my mind, probably depressed, and definitely profoundly sad – all the time. As with Meghan, everything in my life changed; my relationship of 10 years ended, my perspective about my future changed dramatically, my relationship with others changed; my family had changed; I changed, and nothing would ever be the same again.

Sharing Meghan’s experience taught me I was not mad, I was normal. I was expected to be depressed and sad, I had lost my mum. Indeed, life would never be the same or “normal” again; the most precious relationship I had and would ever have, had ended. What I had to do was learn to walk again.

Would you recommend this book?
Yes – most especially for anyone who has suffered loss and thinks they are losing their mind.

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Previous Word of the Week

15/01/16 – The Long Goodbye

22/01/16 – Calvin and Hobbes

29/01/16 – Peaceful, pain free and dignified: palliative…

05/02/16 – Travelling to Infinity: My Life with Stephen

05/02/16 – The Five People You Meet in Heaven