Monday, April 11, 2011

Meghan O’Rourke

From a Q & A with Meghan O’Rourke, author of The Long Goodbye:

Q: You write that nothing prepared you for the loss of your mother—even knowing that she was going to die. Did that surprise you?

A: Yes and no. When she was dying, I often tried to imagine what it would be like when she was dead. I said to myself: You have to prepare. But there really is no way to “prepare.” Imagining the loss is not absolute. It’s painful, but you can always look back at your mother’s face and think, “but she is still here.” The loss is absolute—it’s like entering a new world.

Q: You also write that you weren’t surprised that being a mourner was lonely. But you were surprised by how lost you felt. You didn’t really know what you were supposed to do, and neither did your friends and colleagues. Why do you think that is? Is that why you call grief “the last taboo” in our society?

A: I call grief the “last taboo” because it seems to me that Americans are very uncomfortable around the topic of death. I mean, it’s understandable. Who wants to think about it? And yet if we don’t, we’re cutting ourselves off from a huge part of our human legacy. Because of this discomfort, our ideas about what grief is are very simplistic, and we have few rituals that carve out space for it in everyday society. I am glad I didn’t have to...[read on]
--Marshal Zeringue