Tuesday, 3 December 2013

The Long Goodbye

Many of you might not know this, but metastasized breast cancer took my Mother from me in April of 2012. It was sudden and unexpected. She wasn't in palliative care or hospice.
I've never been able to talk openly about my grief, or how I feel about the process of grieving, until now. And that is all because of a book called The Long Goodbye by Megan O'Rourke.

The Long Goodbye is O'Rourke's memoir that she wrote after her Mother died of cancer. It's poignant, beautiful, and incredibly deep in a way that really sets into your bones.
Part of the reason why I picked it up was because of some of the ways it paralleled by own experience. O'Rourke is also a writer, and she cared for her mother while she was going through her illness as I did. The major difference is that I haven't been able to write at all about grief, and have had difficulty even writing through it. It really captures the empty lonely feeling, and what that absence does to your psyche.
One of the things that she said that really stuck with me was relating the loss to an amputation, and that relearning how to do things without the loved one is like learning how to do things with missing parts and I agree with that whole heartedly. My Mother was my best friend, my greatest supporter and champion, and the light in my darkness. Going on without her has been a process of trying to relearn how to do things, and I've struggled privately and continue to do so.
Coming up to the holiday months without my Mother is especially hard. There are so many things that I hadn't done without her in many years, and trying to do even the simplest things without her has been lonely and at times so sad.
O'Rourke spent a lot of time researching grief and the practices of mourning and grieving which I found fascinating. Going through that process I had a lot of questions and concerns on how I was supposed to behave, and was chastised for my behaviour or lack thereof, so learning about what is appropriate in other cultures, and how the entire process has evolved throughout the centuries was very interesting to me. O'Rourke also applied these ideas to her own grief, and because of the similarities to what I am going through it was a big eye opener for me.

There are a lot of books about grief, and one that was handed to me almost immediately was Motherless Daughters. It was something my Mother had on her own bookshelf, and she recommended to many of her friends who had lost their mothers so it seemed almost bitter sweet that I ended up with it.
But I have not been able to read it. I don't know why, and I have tried several times, but I just can't get into it. Maybe it's because of that legacy, and because the title sort of rubs me the wrong way. I've come to realize that with these types of books that not every book works for the same person, and that you just have to find one that you identify with and go with it.

So, readers, if you've struggled with grief I recommend you take a look at The Long Goodbye. Especially adult women who have lost their mothers.

And, Ms. O'Rourke, on the off chance that you ever see this, I don't have adequate words to express how much The Long Goodbye means to me. Thank you for having the courage to write it and share it, it's given me some hope that I can learn to understand this process and that I'm not going insane. Thank You.