anneli rufus
the farewell chronicles
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When someone in your life dies, you expect to feel sad. And you're expected to feel sad. Hallmark sympathy cards and sad songs tell you to grieve, then straighten up and get over it.

But life and death are a lot more complicated than that. Sometimes we feel a lot of other ways along with sorrow. Or we feel them before sorrow. Or after. Or even instead of sorrow. Out of the blue surge these other feelings -- nasty, sticky, messy ones. A rush, say, of bittersweet relief. Or regret. Revulsion over horrible things you saw or heard that, no matter how hard you try, you can't forget. Self-absorption. Terror. Greed. Sometimes you feel a forbidden jolt of joy. And sometimes, shock of shocks, you feel nothing at all.

Remember just being glad the wait was over?

Remember that buzz in your gut when you first heard about the death of your ex, or the death of your cousin who used to call you a Hobbit? Remember when the last person on earth who knew your darkest secret passed away?

Remember how you'd lie awake at night wishing you hadn't mocked his mullet, wishing you'd phoned her more often, wishing you'd kept some of your promises?

Remember how you laughed at the funeral?

Remember how your aunts fought over the jewelry?

Remember how, after your loved one died, you kept looking around at everyone else and wondering why all those jerks were still alive?

"Wry humor and brutal candor couched in gorgeous prose."

-- Library Journal

It's so startling. We never had a clue. No one ever warned us about these feelings. And they shock us. They shame us. The sad songs and sympathy cards convinced us long ago that there is both a "right" way and a "wrong" way to mourn, and that our way is all wrong. So we lash out at ourselves, using the names we are sure society would call us if it only knew:

Unfaithful. Unfilial. Unfeeling. Infantile. Cold. Cruel. Selfish. Insane.

In a culture that avoids talking about death in the first place, our nasty, sticky, messy but all too true responses have become the ultimate taboo. We're too freaked out over what they might reveal about us to ever really face them.

The Farewell Chronicles breaks that silence. Drawing on dozens of true experiences, mixing real life into the bigger picture, it navigates those weird frontiers, those borderlands that are so far away yet always so near. Never trying to Hallmark-card you, The Farewell Chronicles revisits those moments when everything suddenly changed. Those moments when you realized that there are such things as never and forever. Before and after. Then and now. Those moments, some of the most astounding you'll ever know, that lurk just one breath or one heartbeat away from your ordinary daily walking-around, eating-hotdogs life. Those moments when you realized that no two deaths are ever alike, and that every death is, for the living, a wake-up call.

2009 anneli rufus