How Learning to Say Goodbye Taught Me How to Live by Joffre McClung

How Learning to Say Goodbye Taught Me How to Live

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McClung muses on the spiritual insights learned during the last six months of her best friend’s life in this debut memoir.

When McClung, just emerging from a two-year grieving process over the death of her mother, found out that her best friend, Rob, had stage 4 breast cancer, she vowed, “I would not lose myself in grief again.” In this journal, the author, who had left a New York City media career to take care of her mother in Texas, shares the spiritual journey that she and her friend traveled during the last six months of Rob’s life. McClung notes that while they “had had disciplined spiritual practices for the past thirty years,” Rob had “kept her Higher Self” at arm’s length. After Rob’s partner died suddenly, and then her mother a few weeks later, McClung convinced her to move from Los Angeles to Texas to spend her final days with her father and brother, whom she had not seen in 22 years. The two women encountered what they termed “out of the blues” appearances of “angels” (including a friend named Gabriel) that made this transition more bearable. By memoir’s end, Rob makes her “crossing,” but not before admitting that she finally felt loved during a family Christmas celebration, an event that McClung, who gave her friend necessary space during this time, did not take part in. The author ends each chapter with resonant questions for readers to ponder. McClung has written a thoughtful think piece that also serves as a touching tribute to “one of my greatest teachers during the worst time of her life.” The questions the author presents readers arise appropriately from her narrative and also have universal relevance, including “When is the last time you said you were sorry to yourself or another?” While some details are tantalizingly underdeveloped (including Rob’s “sick and depressed” partner), McClung offers many well-sketched, even funny, anecdotes, including her “outburst” in Target arguing by phone with Rob about buying her an outfit.

Heartfelt reflections on the lessons and strength to be gained from grief and loss.

Pub Date: Sept. 25th, 2015
ISBN: 978-1-5043-3909-4
Page count: 166pp
Publisher: BalboaPress
Program: Kirkus Indie
Review Posted Online:


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