The Long Goodbye: A Memoir by Megan O’Rourke

Thank you so much to Helena, a friend of The Loss Foundation, who has written this review on ‘The Long Goodbye’ by Megan O’Rourke.

“No matter whether you’re grieving a loss that occurred weeks, months or years ago, Megan O’Rourke’s personal account of her mother’s death provides eye-opening food for thought on coping with bereavement. In The Long Goodbye, she poignantly describes her mother’s harrowing battle with cancer and the year following her death, voicing her innermost thoughts and emotions with an astonishing intensity. What’s especially moving and refreshing about the memoir is that her inner narrative is not filtered in the least: she not only gives expression to her love and compassion towards her mother, but also juxtaposes this with the feelings of anger, insecurity, selfishness and all-encompassing sorrow that play a part in her grieving process. Although these passages sometimes portray O’Rourke in a jarring light, they illustrate the unpredictable emotional rollercoaster of bereavement: it can yield everything from crippling anxiety and outbursts of aggression to an enhanced thirst and gratitude for life. And, as O’Rourke’s genuine portrayal of her raw and messy feelings so beautifully reminds us, there’s no one reaction to grief that’s “right” at any given moment – no matter what society may lead us to believe.

Although this memoir recounts an entirely unique experience with grief, I think that its meandering reflections are rich with ideas that many of us can relate to and find solace in – and that can even transform our personal perception of loss. Whether you’re looking to reflect, accept, or even gain an insight into prominent grief studies, it’s all contained within O’Rourke’s prose, which successfully embodies abstract emotions in eloquent word pictures. I found many passages of this personal account, such as the one below, very comforting and uplifting after the death of my own mother – and hope that you may find them cathartic, too!

“It’s not a question of getting over it or healing. No, it’s a question of learning to live with this transformation. For the loss is transformative, in good ways and bad, a tangle of change that cannot be threaded into the usual narrative spools. It is too central for that. It’s not an emergence from the cocoon, but a tree growing around an obstruction.” (217 – 218)”

You can find the book here on Amazon.

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