Meghan O’Rourke's The Long Goodbye

Thursday, April 14, 2011

Meghan O’Rourke discusses how unprepared she was for the intensity of sorrow she felt after her mother’s death, and looks at what it means to mourn today, in a culture that rarely acknowledges grief. The Long Goodbye is a record of her interior life as a mourner, an attempt to capture the monumental agony and microscopic intimacies of grief. It looks at how caring for her mother during her illness changed and strengthened their bond, and show how her family persevered even in the face of immeasurable loss.


Meghan O’Rourke

Comments [6]

peter levy from baldwin ny

in the jewish tradition she might find some very comforting traditions for mourning.
1- we mourn for 7 days. this would have prevented her from reentering society after only 3 days and having a run in on the subway. she was too vulnerable to have been trying to function on a normal regimen so soon after the death of her mother. this might have prevented this difficult incident.
2- i disagree that grief is the "flip side of love." grief is a form of and extension of love
3- we mourn for 7 days and then for 30 days and then for a year (in total). there are all of the anniversaries, birthdays, special events, etc at which the person will be missed. this process ensures a gradual and controlled re-entry from the world of mourning.
it is a simple but carefully crafted tradition that goes back for hundreds and hundreds of years and it works.
there is no question that death is traumatic for those around the deceased, but these and other related traditions are a tried and true way to deal with the shock and trauma of the loss of a loved one.

Apr. 14 2011 09:20 PM
Nick from UWS

For those of us who had caring parents, one of the most startling feelings I had after my parents died was that my parents no longer cared whether I lived or died.

Apr. 14 2011 12:58 PM

This turns out to be a very thoughtful conversation. Thank you.

Apr. 14 2011 12:57 PM
Maria from NYC

Has Ms. O'Rourke experienced any "magical thinking" (for lack of a better term) since her Mom died? I lost mine almost 3 years ago, and on the ferry to and from work, I find myself thinking often that the seagulls are the spirits of my mother and her parents watching over me, as crazy as that may sound.

Apr. 14 2011 12:56 PM
Mr. Bad from NYC

I was going to write a comment about how much I hate memoirs and why, but this one sounds like it actually has some weightiness to it, will check it out.

@ David Syracuse from east Hampton

Please take your pills and lay down, you're not a writer, you're a bulldozer.

Apr. 14 2011 12:54 PM
David Syracuse from east hampton

Anyone who wants/needs an alternative to "JCO"s memoir on becoming a widow -- and then rapidly moving out again into the light of affiancedom -- should hear this author, a pioneer on many levels in culture as in the brain. We are in the stage, or phase I think, of neuroscience as *the* informing principle, whether of the vicissitudes of our beliefs, or our inveterate attachment to disbelief; if David Brooks is right in following this line, and we are far more socially interconnected as a species than anyone knows, Meghan's book will be seen as a bell(e)wether of a much-needed transition from incomprehensible disconnects that route themselves in shades of violence -- ms. oates' Gothic taken broadly -- to compassion'd intersects that help suture a wounded yet resilient (pace, Japan) planet.

Bravo for Mr. Lopate having the vision necessary to air people as light and heavy, surface and deep, funny and "sad," as this morning's shakespearean Fey o Rourke!

Apr. 14 2011 12:01 PM

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