Perhaps it is unfair to write a response to a book review about a book I have not read.
But I do think it is valid to comment on the thoughts and words of the reviewer about a topic
I feel passionately about–death and dying.
This Sunday's NY Times book review section leads off with a review by Leah Hager Cohen of a book entitled THE MERCY PAPERS: A Memoir of Three Weeks by Robin Romm.
The essence of the book regards the death and dying of Romm's mother who suffers from terminal breast cancer. Apparently the dying mother was a bright, accomplished woman who was known for her temper and apparently her daughter, the author, has inherited that trait.
Robin Romm clearly cannot accept her mother's dying. She apparently takes some of her own frustration and anger out on her mother's hospice nurse [universally amazingly compassionate and caring individuals] who advises her to 'let her Mother go' in peace.
The author is quoted by the reviewer Cohen telling her dying Mother, "I won't be OK. I can't imagine life without you". Cohen then states in the review, "there is valor in this, toddler-like refusal to manage her grief or indicate acceptance."
Now I would never be so presumptuous as to criticize the feelings of someone for their dying loved-one. There is no scale or standard to which suffering and mourning can be applied.
I do object, however, to the failure of individual's to come to terms with the reality of death and to help our loved-ones accept it as well.
Dying is frightening to all involved, but our priorities must be with the one who is dying! Otherwise we do behave like selfish children. We are not and should not impose our feelings of loss and abandonment on our dying loved-ones.
I have had many a conversation with the relatives of a dying patient who are confused, pained and disoriented by the prospect of losing their loved-one. Time and again I have tried to focus their attention on the wishes and needs of the dying individual, not their own.
Refusing useless medical procedures, encouraging supportive therapy, wanting their loved one to die without pain and with whatever 'dignity' is still salvageable, these should be their primary concerns. Their own loss, their own pain which will inevitably follow should not!
To hold on to a loved-one, to cry about how they will suffer after the loved-one is gone is absolutely inconsiderate and totally selfish. On a soul level, we must make their passing as easy as possible. They should not 'hold on' and continue to suffer in a failing body to assuage our pain.
We must be able to do what is in the best interest of the loved ones who are about to die. We need to think about all of this far in advance of the actually moment of death.
End of life issues must be brought into the mainstream media: books, TV, movies etc.
Even a death that is poorly handled [such as in this book and review] are valuable. It encourages the discussion and that is the beginning of change.