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The Long Goodbye

3.92  ·  Rating details ·  2,608 Ratings  ·  428 Reviews
What does it mean to mourn today, in a culture that has largely set aside rituals that acknowledge grief? After her mother died of cancer at the age of fifty-five, Meghan O'Rourke found that nothing had prepared her for the intensity of her sorrow. In the first anguished days, she began to create a record of her interior life as a mourner, trying to capture the paradox of ...more
Hardcover, 306 pages
Published April 14th 2011 by Riverhead Books
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This book wrecked me. I have trouble even saying that I recommend it, because its sheer brilliant intensity will tear you apart.

I am not a crier. I didn't cry at Old Yeller, I didn't cry at Romeo and Juliet, and while I didn't see Titanic, the odds are I would have been giggling at the end. And yet. And yet I was bawling over my cooking dinner by the second chapter of "The Long Goodbye." I finished it in a few hours, and there were precious few dry-eyed moments. Meghan's grief is so raw, so wri
Aug 08, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: nonfiction
This is possibly the most honest review I'll ever write. I read O'Rouke’s book as part of the TLC Book Tour and if I hadn’t had an actual deadline to read and review the book by, I’m not sure I would have made it all the way through it.

It was incredibly hard for me to finish this book, but that’s not because it wasn’t excellent, it’s because it hit too close to home. I saw too much of myself in the circumstances of Meghan's mother's death. My own mom was diagnosed with cancer, then after months
Mar 28, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: memoirs
At a time when our culture is open to just about everything, there is one taboo – the grief experienced upon losing a loved one. Or, as the author herself puts it, “If the condition of grief is nearly universal, its transactions are exquisitely personal.

It is one of those exquisitely personal transactions that lead me to this courageous and empathetic memoir. As I lose my own aging mother, little by little, I have entered a pre-mourning period that is often challenging for myself to navigate and
Feb 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I started reading this book about two weeks after my father died of lung cancer metastasize to bones, liver, brain.

Firstly, I will say that I bristled at some others' reviews about the worst thing being a woman losing her mother. I can tell you that losing a father is no less devastating. No less at all. My only disconnect w this book is when she talks about mothers being your entry point into life - I'm trying to come up with a similarly poignant descriptor for fathers. As a woman, your father
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Meghan O'Rourke's memoir of her mother's death and her grief following her loss is beautifully written, heartbreaking, and yet also (for me) healing in its honesty around the irrevocable and ongoing pain that death brings. Love does not end with death; grieving in some sense never ends although the pain grows less overwhelming and we are able to go on with our life.

The memoir brought back many memories of my own mother's death. Although it is many years, I still miss her. The pain is less but th
Aug 23, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-in-2011
I probably shouldn't have read this book just yet, but it caught my eye and I was interested in how this daughter dealt with the loss of her mother to cancer. She chronicled parts of their lives together, her mother's illness, and her adjustment following her passing. Poignant.

I want to preserve many of the passages from this book, thus the following:

Favorite Quotes:

"Nothing prepared me for the loss of my mother. Even knowing that she would die did not prepare me. A mother, after all, is your en
Seaside Book Nook
Apr 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I have never made margin notes or highlighted sentences since I was in college and certainly never did this to one of my "pleasure" books. I couldn't help it though, I was underlining certain sentences, making my own notes in the margin since this book was so relate able me. There were so many similarities between Meghan's memoir and my own experience that I felt she was writing the book for me. This book took me through a journey I never wanted to go through again; however, this time through t ...more
David Rohlfing
Oct 01, 2011 rated it it was ok
Sad to say expected better from a poet. In the first third of the book, I couldn't get past the fact that I really didn't like O'Rourke as a character in the story of her mother's illness and death. She seemed so petty and self-centered. The most thoughtful passages in the book were in the middle sections where O'Rourke was artfully weaving together many other writers' ideas about death, mourning, and grief with her own story. When the book turned more autobiographical again, I almost put it dow ...more
Apr 14, 2011 rated it it was amazing
First of all, you should know that Meghan O'Rourke writes like an angel.

I am a fan of the memoir, and of course I have read those two iconic journals of loss and grief, C. S. Lewis's "A Grief Observed" and Joan Didion's "The Year of Magical Thinking." Meghan O'Rourke's memoir of her mother's death is equally powerful, yet it is neither Lewis's raw howl of grief nor Didion's tearless restraint. Rather, it is a skilled surgeon's exploratory surgery on her own wounded heart. O"Rourke's eyes may be
Scott Axsom
Aug 18, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I came to this book somewhat accidentally, having just learned that my mother has cancer, thinking it might prepare me for the battles that are currently unfolding in her, and my, world. I was surprised to discover that, instead of chronicling the author’s mother’s fight with cancer, it deals instead with her mother’s death, and O’Rourke’s grief and, with some assurance, her surviving them. Thankfully, I don't expect to lose my own mother, indeed the odds in her instance are overwhelmingly in he ...more
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Meghan O’Rourke is the author The Long Goodbye: A Memoir (Riverhead Books, 2011), and the poetry collections Once (W. W. Norton, 2011) and Halflife (W. W. Norton, 2007). A former literary editor of Slate and poetry editor of The Paris Review, she has published essays and poems in The New Yorker, Poetry, The Kenyon Review, The Best American Poetry, and other venues. She is the recipient of the 2008 ...more
More about Meghan O'Rourke...
“Sometimes you don't even know what you want until you find out you can't have it.” 95 likes
“One of the grubby truths about a loss is that you don't just mourn the dead person, you mourn the person you got to be when the lost one was alive. This loss might even be what affects you the most.” 30 likes
More quotes…