Seo agus Siud May 2018            

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Two Book Reviews

I heard a conversation on the radio one afternoon that mentioned this book, so I decided to investigate it! Compiled and edited by Orlaith Carmody, whose Mam is a past pupil of Monaghan, this book is a very positive and uplifting look at loss, other peoples losses. Orlaith decided that the format of writing a personal letter to the one who has gone, would be the most real way of capturing the feelings around their loss and allowing some well-known people, from the worlds of media, sport, and  arts, to express what loss  meant to them.

This book which was ‘unput downable’ gave me new insights into the Holocaust, insights that were both frightening and hope filled. Whatever happens to us, we can find a way to survive and even thrive. Her parents were killed by the Nazis, and not only did Edith survive, but she became a Doctor and Psychologist, working closely with survivors of abuse, and others who have experienced trauma and painful life events. Through her words of comfort and compassion, Edith captures perfectly the essence of some of the deepest struggles that we all can face, but also the hope that can be found within such struggles.

The words that Edith’s mother spoke to her on their journey to Auschwitz are echoed throughout this book. “We don’t know where we are going, we don’t know what is going to happen, but no one can take away from you what you put in your own mind”… Too often we can create prisons within our own minds, and contribute to our suffering by how we respond to the conditions of our lives. In confronting our suffering, Edith reveals how freedom becomes possible.

Edith does not proclaim that moving out of this pain towards hope is an easy undertaking. She openly shares her own deep struggles on her journey towards healing and wholeness. There are many beautiful quotes in this story, which resonate deeply with the reader, as “Our painful experiences aren’t a liability….they are a gift. They give is perspective and meaning, an opportunity to find our unique purpose and our strength”.

Though parts of this book are so difficult to read as they echo from the heart of evil, I thoroughly recommend it and believe it offers all of us an opportunity to gain a new perspective by demonstrating our capacity to heal, find hope and meaning within our lives.

                                                                               Méabh Ní Uallacháin

This heart-warming collection of personal essays, explores grief, and how it expresses itself, and how it impacts on us months, years and even decades after the event. Widowed herself at 28, Orlaith’s first husband Kieran Gleeson passed away following a three and a half-year struggle with a brain tumour. She wanted to honour his memory and celebrate the work of the Hospice, by this gentle and real book.

I was moved by a section from the letter of Josepha Madigan TD, to her youngest sister Edwina…

“Today is your funeral. We throw sunflowers into the deep clay abyss of your grave. Your coffin lies on top of Dad’s coffin, both of you victims of cancer’s brutal and prolific appetite for destruction. We mourn your loss acutely. Our mother is as strong as an oak tree but my heart bleeds for her. For your husband, I wish him nothing but warmth, happiness, and love for the rest of his days. We cry, we reminisce, but mostly we grieve.  Alone but together.  Grief is selfish and lonely. No one can do it for you nor take it away from you. It is tears at least once a day, a solitary sadness that never leaves you.  I thank God that I have known you and Dad, to have been inspired by you both and to have loved and been loved by you”…..

This beautiful and thought provoking book draws together a diverse collection of experiences from those coming to terms with loss. It can be bought from Our Lady’s Hospice, Harolds Cross, Dublin 6W RY72 ..Phone 014911072…….. or email at …

                                                                             Méabh Ní Uallacháin

And finally the “I am standing on the shoulders” video shown at Dromantine can be viewed again by clicking on the image below.

Without You, Living with Loss by Orlaith Carmody

The Choice: Embrace the Possible by Edith Eger

This is truly a beautiful book full of hope, truth, and wisdom. It is written by 90 year old Psychologist Dr Edith Eger, who at the age of 16 was sent to the concentration camp, Auschwitz, along with her father, mother and sister, their Hungarian family being herded into a truck full of Jews. Only Edith and her sister Magda survived the horrors of Auschwitz, being one of the 70 people out of 15,000 from her village to survive.  This book is an account of their time there, how her life has unfolded since her liberation from Auschwitz, and the journey of healing and growth that she has since undergone. It is a captivating life story broken up into three parts-Prison, Escape, Freedom and Healing.