By: Linda Campanella.
At some point in our lives, we all will have to deal with the death of a parent. For some, a parent’s death comes suddenly and is a total shock; we have no time to prepare or to say good-bye. For others, the shock is delivered in the form of a terminal diagnosis. Rather than being sudden, death is anticipated; the sense of boundary-less living is snatched away, and the goodbye is a long one.
But a terminal diagnosis does not terminate life; death has not come yet, and there is more living to do. Linda Campanella came to that realization 48 hours after getting the unexpected and devastating news that her 73-year-old mother had terminal cancer. Initially her thoughts raced ahead to the time when her mother would no longer be alive, but Campanella managed to pull herself out of this premature grief; realizing that her mother’s life was not over yet, she resolved that whatever time was left for and with her mother should be spent living, not dying. She, her siblings, and her father committed themselves to ensuring her mother would live fully, and joyfully, for the rest of her life, no matter how much, or how little, time was left.
How they went about injecting living into dying, and the many good moments and memories they created even while facing heartbreaking loss, are chronicled in When All That’s Left of Me Is Love: A Daughter’s Story of Letting Go. This honest and revealing memoir, which recounts Campanella’s last year with her mother and her first few months as a mother-less daughter, is filled with insights and inspirations that will help anyone jolted into confronting the inevitability and sudden imminence of death.
Although the book is not a how-to guide, it does provide many wonderful examples of little things that make a big difference – from lipstick, earrings and pocketbooks, to keeping old routines while creating new family traditions (like Happy Hour), to using a calendar as a tool for looking forward and making plans, to giving gifts of pottery or finding comfort in poetry. Campanella has provided a moving and unforgettable story of a daughter’s undying love for her dying mother. At the same time, her book is a portrait of a dying woman’s courage, grace, and gratitude and of her family’s unwavering determination to enjoy life while anticipating death. It is a heartwarming account that will gently move those who have experienced loss beyond their profound grief to a place of deep gratitude.
Although it is a story born of death, When All That’s Left of Me Is Love, is above all, an uplifting tale of living, loving, believing, and letting go. It will move and inspire not only those who face or fear death but also those who love and embrace life.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Linda Campanella calls herself an accidental author. She says her book, When All That’s Left of Me Is Love, essentially wrote itself in the weeks of intense grief following her mother’s death. Campanella says chapters poured out of her at all hours of the day and night, flowing directly from a broken heart to a blank page. She finished the manuscript in less than two months-in time to give it to her father for Christmas, his first without his wife and sweetheart of 52 years. It is a story she never wanted or expected to tell, but now that it’s written, she is happy to keep her mother’s legacy of love and her joyful, generous spirit alive through its pages.
Campanella currently resides in West Hartford and grew up in MA. She is married to her high school sweet-heart, Joe, who is an architect. They have three sons in their twenties and an adorable, one-year-old mini-goldendoodle whose unconditional love is no substitute for her mother’s but does make Linda feel good.
- Not Guilty! Learning to Let Go of Guilt and Blame.
- How to Talk to Your Child About Death
- Can a Mother Be Her Daughter’s Best Friend?
- The Wisdom of Grief: Help Your Daughter Deal with Death
- Mothers Shouldn’t Try For Perfection: Perfection creates an impossible ideal.