SECOND EDITION AVAILABLE SOON: February 2018
First, my apologies. Due to circumstances beyond my control, Killing Mother became unavailable a few years ago. A new edition is on its way, thanks to Carol’s gentle nudging, and Emily’s kind comments a couple of weeks ago.
It’s been hard to go back and read through the book again, for the first time since before the Colonel died. I had barely made peace with my mother’s death when my father descended into dementia and that came with its own stresses. It’s been over a decade of loss, and I’m finally feeling like I’m getting my life back together. Losing parents, whether you’re close to them or not, can have huge ramifications for a person, depending on how sensitive you are, how resilient, your social and family support network or lack thereof, and many other factors.
But it’s been educational, and thought-provoking, and maybe even a little bit restorative. I wish for all caregivers that they cultivate self-compassion even if they find themselves short on compassion for others. Living with dying is hard. Even just living is hard sometimes, for everyone. Mindfulness meditation has helped me take care of myself.
Progressive Supranuclear Palsy is a rare brain disease affecting only a few thousand people in the U.S. each year; yet, the trajectory of the illness compares with other terminal or degenerative diseases in its overwhelming challenges and everyday triumphs. Killing Mother, one family’s story of coping with this grim disease, narrates a universal struggle as it paints a loving portrait of an ordinary woman on her unique journey toward the only certain ending.
Being a caregiver for a parent can be full of contradiction, devastating and uplifting at the same time. Writing by turns with tenderness, frustration, and humor, the author chronicles in riveting detail the last year of her mother’s life with PSP. Observation and insight blend with revealing dialogue and helpful tips to weave a compelling memoir of profound personal breakthroughs in the face of imminent death. For patients and caregivers alike, this book is sure to encourage reflection, inspire forgiveness, and guide them on their own journeys to find support, clarity, and compassion during a deeply difficult transition.
PSP is a multi-system atrophy disease, with symptoms and characteristics that resemble some other more common degenerative diseases such as ALS, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s. Each of these diseases has its own set of distressing symptoms, and each patient’s experience and timeline with each disease is unique. But the struggles that patients and caregivers face, and their coping strategies, can be surprisingly similar with any terminal disease. Killing Mother speaks to anyone setting out on the life-changing exploration of a degenerative disease.
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Rita H. Clagett is a writer, photographer, and naturalist who lives in a solar adobe home in western Colorado. She grew up in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., where she returned to help her mother on her final journey with Progressive Supranuclear Palsy. A published and performing poet and essayist, Rita brings a lifetime of observation and writing skills to bear on her chronicle of her family’s struggle to cope with this rare, terminal brain disease. Her writing has appeared in a variety of local and regional publications, including The High Country News, The Denver Post, and The Montrose Mirror.
A graduate of The College of William and Mary with a degree in Anthropology, Rita’s career includes jobs as a state and national park ranger, conservation educator, field ecologist, landscape designer, and now freelance writer, photographer and videographer. An ardent student of both human nature and wild Nature, her insightful writing explores connections and reflections between the two worlds.