Holding Space: On Loving, Dying, and Letting Go

Holding Space: On Loving, Dying, and Letting GoHolding Space: On Loving, Dying, and Letting Go by Amy Wright Glenn
Published by Parallax Press on November 14th 2017
ISBN: 194152978X
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And to hold space well requires a willingness to accept and integrate our own anger, regret, and sorrow. It obliges us to honestly apologize when our actions cause harm, and and to fearlessly own the darkest corners of our life’s stories. In doing so, we gain the capacity to be present for others as the journey.”

Wow, I just want to say Wow. The Author of this book is such an eloquent writer. I could quote her throughout my entire review. I love her thoughts on death and dying as many of her reflections and thoughts are similar to my own. She has a way with words and a way with people. She holds the hands of the living as their loved ones pass away.

The book begins with the Author telling the reader about her religious upbringing and how she arrived at her current religious/spiritual belief system. I enjoyed this part as I did when she shared how she must often put aside her own personal issues, beliefs, etc. in order to be present, to be mindful and to be compassionate to those who need her.

This is a memoir but also an instructional manual for those in assisting those during the dying process. I think this book would be perfect for those who work in hospitals, hospices, nursing homes, are social workers, member of clergy, and even families who are dealing with a terminal loved one or a sudden loss of a loved one’s life.

“We stand together in the presence of fear and death. We stand together in tears.”

As a hospital Chaplain, Amy Wright Green has been present with those suffering from loss. Her life is not entirely about loss. She is also a birth Doula. She witnesses birth, death and everything in between.Her book is her mindful approach, of having a compassionate presence and to accept death as part of life. Because that is exactly what it is. We are all going to die. That is a fact. Many like to walk around and ignore that fact. But we are all going to die, we will witness those we love pass away, loss will affect all us (if it hasn’t already). We need to discuss death. We should all discuss how death affects us and what we would like done upon our own death. It’s important and it helps those left behind.

I had to take a class on death and dying for my degree. It was a requirement. It was one of my favorite classes. Sound morbid? It was not. I found it to be a beautiful, insightful and deeply moving course. I learned how various cultures view death, their religious practices in regards to death and funerals, how to counsel someone who is dying as well as those who are losing or have lost a loved one. For my paper, I interviewed my Grandfather who was dying of Cancer. It was a deeply profound experience. My paper was read at his funeral and every member of my family requested a copy. I learned things about my grandfather, his thoughts on Cancer, his own experiences with death as a child, as a soldier during WWII and as an adult. We discussed his beliefs on death and what his expectations were. I feel blessed to have had that time with him.

I sat with my Grandmother while she was dying as did my entire family. When she was able we talked. Again, a blessing to be able to say goodbye. My son was also able to be there to say goodbye to her. I viewed this as an important part of his life. He was also able to say goodbye to his other great grandmother as well. Again, it was important for him to be there. I want him to know that death is part of life. That saying goodbye can be a beautiful yet sad time.

“Children have the right to mourn, bury dead fish and lizards, attend the funerals of those they love, and have their questions about death and dying answered in honest and age appropriate ways,”

I thought this book was quite beautiful. I love her insights, her experiences and her mindful approach to death and dying. We need to be present. We need to embrace the process. Death, like birth, affects us all. We cannot hide under a rock and hope it passes over us. We must acknowledge it with grace, dignity and compassion.

“Grief isn’t something to manage efficiently. It’s not an illness.”

In short, this is a memoir but it is also a beautiful look at how she assisted those during the death and dying process. She shows us how to take what is offered in this book, how to use it, how to hold space. This book is beautifully written and there were so many parts that I highlighted. Her writing and message are illuminating. I found her approach to be very comforting and calming. I appreciated how she talked with her child when their pet fish died. This book is extremely thought provoking, personal and insightful.

I received a copy of this book from Parallax press and NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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