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Reviewed by Tammy Ruggles for Readers' Favorite
My Mother's Way of Dying Well by Dianne Porter is a moving biography covering a myriad of emotions surrounding death and dying. One would think that a biography about losing parents wouldn't have humor and bright points, but this one does, without disrespecting the subject of death, grief, and loss. The author had no idea how her life would unfold after her parents died, but her journey is inspiring and well-told, with poignant phrasing and vivid imagery, including family photos. In a way, this memoir has the movement and pacing of a fictional novel with unexpected events, surprises, laughs, and tears. The dying process of a loved one can do many things: It can frighten you, stress you, bring up unresolved issues, bring you closer to that person, make you distant, show you what you're made of, or change you for the better or worse, among others. One of the takeaways I like is that during this time, you can learn to appreciate your own life and make decisions based on that. The idea behind the series of essays that Porter wrote while her mother was dying was that she wanted an honest account of someone experiencing impending death. You'll become acquainted with Porter's businesslike mother and sentimental father and a kaleidoscope of emotions in between.
The specifics of Porter's book will resonate with anyone who's been through loss and the things that go with it, like wills, planning a funeral, spreading ashes, etc. Though grounded in the personal experiences of the author, you will find yourself relating, and that is the value of this book. Porter's choice to be open is refreshing and can be disconcerting if it brings up mixed feelings you may have about your own family dynamics. Death and dying can bring out the best in people or the worst. Other personal things the author includes are lyrics to songs, her visions of Jesus, and her strengthened faith. But even though this true story is about death, it isn't a downer. If you're looking for the strength and wisdom to move on after suffering a great loss or know someone who is, My Mother's Way of Dying Well by Dianne Porter may be the right book at a time like this.