Review of How to Say Goodbye by Wendy MacNaughton
A former artist-in-residence at a hospice, MacNaughton distills the process of witnessing a loved one's end of life into a few elements we can direct--and encourages us to accept the beauty of the perfectly imperfect, inevitable, departure.
In How to Say Goodbye, Wendy MacNaughton, former artist-in-residence at a hospice in San Francisco, illustrates the words of kindness, thoughtful approaches, and wisdom she gained by spending time around hospice caregivers and the people relying upon them, the dying and their loved ones.
While acknowledging how much is out of our control regarding our loved ones' final moments, How to Say Goodbye shines a light on the things we can potentially shape--including sharing memories, expressing love, and offering forgiveness.
Focusing on respect, love, and closure, MacNaughton offers a guide to creating a path through the precious time leading up to death.
The circumstances may be complicated or fraught, or they may be heartbreaking yet straightforward, but How to Say Goodbye beautifully distills the title's process--of standing by, helping, embracing silence, and turning over the reins to the person who is passing away--into its essence.
MacNaughton's text feels like a poem and her illustrations offer brutal beauty and express their own lovely, heartbreaking, poetic message that embraces the perfection of imperfection and lack of control.
I received a prepublication copy of this slim, powerful, gorgeous book courtesy of Bloomsbury Publishing.
How to Say Goodbye is scheduled for publication July 18, 2023.
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If this book is of interest to you, you might also be interested in the books on my Greedy Reading List Six Powerful Memoirs about Facing Mortality.