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The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life

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4.73  ·  Rating details ·  48 ratings  ·  26 reviews
As a bereavement care specialist, Dr. Virginia Simpson has devoted her career to counseling individuals and families grappling with illness, death, and grieving. But when her own mother, Ruth, is diagnosed in 1999 with a life-threatening condition, Virginia is caught off guard by the storm of emotions she experiences when she is forced to inhabit the role of caregiver. In ...more
Paperback, 288 pages
Published April 5th 2016 by She Writes Press
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Jenni Ogden
Jul 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
I don’t read a lot of memoirs but I’m glad I read this one. Virginia Simpson’s (Ginni to herself and her friends) voice is intimate and honest as she charts the final years of her relationship with her mother, Ruth, as she moves piece by piece towards death. This is not the story of a mother’s untimely death and her young daughter’s grief; Ruth died just shy of her ninety-first birthday and her daughter, the author was in her fifties. The strongest message of their story for me was that age is n ...more
Gini Grossenbacher
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoir
An amazingly candid memoir which recounts the rollercoaster faced by a caregiver and her mother at the end of life. Compelling and well-written. I highly recommend this to anyone who treasures their mother, present or past.
Kerri1975
Apr 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-in-2018
excellent. glad I waited 18 months since my own mom passed away. if I had read it sooner, it would have been too hard.
Deb
Apr 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful book about acceptance, forgiveness and love. Thank you for sharing Virginia.
Lizbeth
Jun 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
I’m not sure what I expected when I got this book. Maybe something more self-helpish and useful, but sterile. Instead, I was pleasantly surprised. The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother Daughter Love at the End of Life is a beautifully written book covering the end-of –life journey, detailing a very relatable and complicated relationship between the author and her mother. It’s fun, sweet, sad, and interesting, with plenty of terrific takeaways. This is definitely a must-read.
Kathryn
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Space Between is a thought-provoking and moving recollection of the final journey a daughter takes with her mother when forced to face the inevitability of mortality. It is a tale of two women who are headstrong, intelligent, prideful, gracious, forgiving, and bonded by typical mother-daughter love: exasperating, exquisite, eternal.
Noel McKillip
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
The Space Between is an insightful tale into the challenges—mental, physical, and emotional—that take place between mother and daughter at the end of life. Driven to move heaven and earth for her mother at the steady cost of her mental well-being, Virginia Simpson undertakes an impossible trial for six years, caring for a live-in mother who both drives her mad and provides her an invaluable opportunity to start to overcome the traumas of her family past. Simpson’s word-smithing is both brilliant ...more
Laurie Buchanan
Feb 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
It's been a long time since I felt so angry on someone's behalf. The recounting of the author's story stirred up a hornet's nest of "righteous" anger. Raised in a family where crying was not tolerated, Dr. Virginia Simpson's father died when she was twelve. Her half-brother is a violent and hateful individual. And her unappreciative mother, oblivious to her daughter's needs and distress, is emotionally bankrupt. Fortunately, Simpson and her mother were able to close the space between—the space t ...more
Mary-Elizabeth Briscoe
An honest look into the often troubled relationship between mother and daughter. Simpson takes the reader on her journey with brutal honesty, humor and loving kindness. The reader is invited into the most intimate of truths related to caring for a loved one and is offered the chance to not only read about but to experience healing. A wonderful, heartfelt read.
Reader Views
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (12/16)

“The Space Between” by Virginia A. Simpson is a book that resonates with me in dealing with my mother’s health and stubbornness to remain in control. As I read Simpson’s journey with her mother, all I could say is “Yep, yep, yep.” She must know my mother.

Simpson’s book is very well written. With such compassion and love, it is a real tribute to her mother and all they have gone through. The subject of her book is never an easy one–death and dying o
...more
Patricia Williams
Jun 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
With its wit and wisdom, The Space Between: a Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life, drew me into Virginia Simpson’s transformative and emotional journey and held me there long after the last page. This inspiring story of the power of love and kindness will resonate in the heart of every caregiver, and holds truth for any close relationship. Weighing exhaustion and despair against compassion, she shows us the healing power of choosing compassion. This poignant and insightful memoir o ...more
Diana Paul
Mar 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing
"Maybe I’ve become a hard scab with Mom, quick to rush to anger to protect myself in many of our encounters during the last few years. Perhaps if I softened, I would be more open and able to heal without leftover hard edges. " p.122

Virginia Simpson is a bereavement care specialist, but when she relates the complex history of her relationship with her mother, we see how a professional grief counselor is still at a loss. At a time when the subjects of aging and dying are no longer the taboo they
...more
Barbara Stark-Nemon
Jul 26, 2017 rated it really liked it
Virginia Simpson’s The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life, is a poignant reminder that professional skill is not guaranteed to translate into personal life. Ginni Simpson is a bereavement specialist; with years of experience and her own non-profit engaged in helping children and families with facing death of a loved one. Yet in this honest and open memoir, she is subject to all the same frustrations, anger, anticipatory grief and fear that greet adult children who ...more
Laura Summers
Nov 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Ginni's story shows how she embraced a challenging situation and learned how learned to breathe through life-changing circumstances. In Ginni's case, she writes about how she healed her relationship with her mother; and in the process, discovered how much her mother loved her in her own way; the only way her mother knew how to love based on her own experiences. The story is a good reminder of our humanness and the love that comes from letting go of expectations. I appreciated Ginni's authentic, ...more
Dede Janzen
Nov 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The author's "mother, Ruth, is diagnosed in 1999 with a life-threatening condition, Virginia is caught off guard by the storm of emotions she experiences when she is forced to inhabit the role of caregiver. In a quest to provide her mother with the best care possible, Virginia arranges for Ruth to move in with her and for the next six years, she cares for her, juggling her mother's doctor's appointments, meals, medication schedules, transportation needs, and often cranky moods with her own busy ...more
Jessica
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Space Between is a realistic analysis of family dynamics, mother and daughter relationships, including troubled teenage years, to the pivotal point when you realize a role reversal has taken place and you become the caregiver. This very poignant love story grows stronger as life changing circumstances are mitigated by Dr. Simpson who takes her ailing mother into her home to provide care for her and must then decide how to face end-of-life options. An excellent read for any daughter (or son) ...more
Mary
Apr 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This May Sarton award winning memoir is a must read for anyone who cares about the complex and multi-faceted feelings that accompany the role reversal of taking care of a parent at the end of life. While Dr Simpson is a bereavement counselor, this book is a very personal story, filled with moments of terror and tenderness. All of us can relate to the complications and resolutions of issues long- built and worn heavily. It is lovely to see that, in this story, the love wins out and the hard-fough ...more
Betty Hafner
Dec 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This lovely book moves readers through the years when Simpson, a psychologist specializing in grief work, has to come to terms with her own mother's decline, dependence on her, and eventual death. As with most of us, issues from the past complicate the process, and Simpson struggles with the confusing mix of love, resentment, need to please, and anger she feels. The uplifting end is impressively written. It would be a terrific choice for a support group or book club with women of a certain age w ...more
J.A. Wright
May 31, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I aspire to be the type of person/daughter Virginia is, and I'm so glad I read her memoir before my six-week visit with my elderly, ill and very stubborn mother. Virginia's words let me know it was okay not to worry so much about the little things, to be gentle and try to find something okay about every situation. I had a great visit with my Mom and even though she called me by my sister's name the entire six weeks, I didn't feel the need to correct her or even mention it. The Space Between is a ...more
Carol Lackey
Jun 03, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A beautifully written memoir about the deep love and respect shared by a very special mother and daughter. The book reads like a novel and is hard to put down! Ms. Simpson is both brave and vulnerable -- a real person dealing with the issues of her mother's end of life and their complex and extraordinary love. Everyone reading the book will see part of themselves and their family -- it's both poignant and positive and a great learning experience.
Bella Mahaya Carter
Oct 27, 2017 rated it it was amazing
This heart-felt, unflinching memoir informed me about death and dying while helping me reflect on my relationships with my own mother and daughter. It kept me company as I relived my mom’s death, which brought her back to life for me. I felt very connected reading this—and happy to be in such capable hands. Virginia Simpson is a lovely soul, who mines her subject with mastery, compassion, and grace. I didn't want the book to end. Beautiful.
Evelyn
Nov 09, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This is an important book for all of us to read as we travel this path of life and death. Going between times Virginia Simpson paints a clear path to follow at this profound time in all our lives, witnessing our parents death. She helps us find the meaning, humor and humanity in it all. It is a universal life story told so well here.
Mary
Jan 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing
The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life delivers just what it promises. It’s full of love in many forms – the love that rolls its eyes, the love that holds hands, the love that asks questions, the love that opens its doors and the love that closes them. Some of the unusual aspects of the book include Dr. Simpson’s honesty about the gaping difference between her professional knowledge about grief and bereavement and her ability to help clients on the one hand, and h ...more
Laurel
May 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
In this poignant and astonishingly lucid memoir, Simpson chronicles the arc of her difficult relationship with her mother. Grievances laid bare are not easily resolved. I was taken in by the internal wrestling of the author as she made me feel every emotion along with her. There is a certain rawness to this book which renders it particularly believable. I found I was putting myself in Simpson’s shoes over and over again - and I’m afraid I was not measuring up. The Space Between is fascinating re ...more
Beth (bibliobeth)
May 07, 2016 rated it really liked it
First of all, many thanks to the author and publishers of this emotional memoir, She Writes Press, for providing me with a free copy in return for an honest review. I've got quite a strong relationship with my own mother and when I read the synopsis of this book, I knew I was going to be in for quite a heart-breaking ride. Well, I wasn't wrong. This is a fantastic piece of non-fiction that explores the author's own relationship with her mother as she faces chronic illness and the thing most peop ...more
scott pitman
rated it did not like it
Mar 15, 2017
Dupi
rated it it was amazing
May 19, 2016
Bob Burdt
Nov 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Space Between eloquently captures the experience of being a caretaker. The book reads like a novel and once I started reading, I couldn't put it down. This book offers hope to everyone that difficult relationships can be healed when two people are willing to keep,the lines of communication open. This is a must read.
Luke ( LUCI ) Peterson
rated it it was amazing
Nov 16, 2017
Grace Sutherlin
rated it really liked it
Apr 16, 2017
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