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So Far Away: A Daughter's Memoir of Life, Loss, and Love Paperback – November 18, 2011


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Product Details

  • Paperback: 224 pages
  • Publisher: Vanderbilt University Press (November 18, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 082651796X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0826517968
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 0.7 x 8.9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 11.2 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,681,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

"Grief is an individual process and dependent on situations, personalities, and relationships, but Hartmann offers personal discoveries that feel universal. Many readers will find familiar themes and emotions. SO FAR AWAY is a gift for anyone struggling to come to terms with death or depression."
--ForeWord Reviews

"This is a powerful book"
--The Gerontologist

"Real and engaging while unique and provocative, So Far Away is an absorbing memoir with touching moments and challenging moral choices to consider."
--SeniorCare101

"So Far Away is a powerful memoir of two very different end-of-life journeys that will speak to everyone who has been parented, and who has considered their personal wishes and hopes for their final years."
--Luxury Reading

"Hartmann demonstrates considerable courage in sharing her story with the world and her book is a gift to families dealing with the daily challenges of caregiving for their elderly loved ones."
--Journal of Women and Aging

"For me, part of the brilliance of So Far Away is that, wrapped up in the exquisitely well-described uniqueness of Hartmann's story about her parents and herself, are substantial insights about anticipatory grief, grief following a parent's death or decline, parent-child relationships at the end of life and after parents die, the links of personal grief to marital relationships, what can be accomplished by writing about parents and parent death, depression, and much more. And although the book is only about one family from one family member's perspective, it offers fascinating insights about families in many areas, including lies and secrets in families, family communication, and what might be called 'relationship traps.' Another part of the brilliance of the book is that the author tunes in so well on her own thoughts and feelings, that it becomes a stimulating book about the psychology of fear, guilt, anger, love, duty, neediness, independence, memory, and obliviousness."
--Paul C. Rosenblatt, University of Minnesota, author of four books on families and grief

"An emotionally powerful memoir that beautifully captures the life-changing journeys of her parents' final years."
--Booth Gardner, former governor, State of Washington, and a leader in the Death with Dignity movement

From the Inside Flap

A tale of two very different end-of-life journeys and the daughter who survived them

More About the Author

Christine Hartmann was born in Ohio and grew up in Delaware. She spent part of her junior year studying in Nepal and graduated with a B.A. in German literature. For the next nine years she pursued her love of teaching in rural Japan. After returning to the U.S. to study clinical social work, she earned her Master's and Ph.D. Having held a number of research positions, she nows works at the Veteran's Health Administration and also holds a faculty appointment at Boston University. Learn more at her website: www.chartmannbooks.com.

Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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This poignant and well-written memoir is surely destined to be a classic.
Barbara Blair
SO FAR AWAY has "soothed the ragged tears of my heart," and for that I sincerely thank Christine Hartmann for having the courage to share her story with us.
Judy Croome
This memoir shows the emotional ups and downs, and how we the children will come away a bit scarred yet carried by our love.
Amazon Customer

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Lydia TOP 1000 REVIEWER on December 10, 2011
Format: Paperback
I struggled with this memoir. Granted, I should have known I'd struggle with it - the subject matter was just so hard.

Christine Hartmann is a strong woman. I don't know that I could have done what she did. She builds the story over a period of about ten years, but the psychological impact her mother had on her lasted longer than that. Can you imagine? Living with the knowledge that your mother plans to die by suicide? I can't.

This book inspired a good, heartfelt talk between me and my parents which essentially started with, "Look, I know you don't want to lose your dignity as you get older, but I'm here to help you as you age. I like you around, and I don't want to lose you before your time." And that was something that needed to be said. I know I would not have the strength to hug my mother, who is perfectly healthy, and walk away with the knowledge that I won't see her again.

I really struggled with Christine Hartmann's decisions throughout the book, and I was glad to see that, toward the end, these decisions are finally challenged in a way that they needed to be. I wont' give more information then that, but I do feel that it's vital to know that there is a reason to keep reading - even though the subject matter seems to drag you down deeper and deeper into this horrible muck.

I admire Hartmann as well - for putting this story down on paper. I hope it helps to heal her, and I hope the bad memories fade over time until all she can remember are the good ones.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Judy Croome on December 22, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
If I could give this memoir 10 stars I would. If you are in a care-giving situation for your parents, buy, beg , borrow or steal a copy of this book. It will comfort and guide you through the loneliness of losing your parents while they are still physically alive.

SO FAR AWAY has had me crying - no, sobbing - inconsolably for the past two days as I read it. I am drained and exhausted and utterly relieved that I am no longer alone in my journey of grief. That there is a way through this loss; there is even life at the end of this seemingly endless road that has drained all my energy, my enthusiasm and my optimism, turning me ever more isolationist and remote from real life.

What makes this book special is that Dr Hartmann's life, losses and love are mine too. Reading Hartmann's story allowed me to cry for her that which I cannot yet cry for myself: the loss of my hero, my "pardner," my beloved Dad.

I could cry, too, for the fading of that strong light that was the hallmark of my courageous Mom, her joie de vivre overshadowed now by the endless day-to-day caring of the physical body that houses the lost soul of her husband and my father.

Hartmann's compassionate, endless caring, the relentless journey to understand both herself and her parent's emotional wounds fill this memoir and made me realise that I too carry a deep private grief and double loss inside me.

She reminds me what I had forgotten: that this cycle of life, too, can be a path of mutual love and respect between special parents and a daughter they had, despite their own wounds and private griefs, always surrounded in love and support.

The subtitle of this book is that it's a "memoir about life, loss and love.
Read more ›
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Blair on November 28, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This poignant and well-written memoir is surely destined to be a classic. The author deals with the painful topic of her mother's planned suicide in an honest yet loving way. This book is full of life lessons and ultimately is the story of the author's triumphant and beautiful human spirit and the painful process with which she comes to terms with her tragic loss and the knowledge of that impending loss for many years.

The fact that the author is willing to share her story to help others deal with grief and loss is a measure of her great compassion for others, something all too rare these days. This is truly a book of the heart. This book is a must read for every therapist and grief counselor. It is a genuine way forward for all those who suffer the insufferable.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By NJN on November 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
This is one of those rare memoirs that not only shares a very personal experience, providing a catharsis for the author, but also draws the reader in to thinking about their own life and relationships. This is a thought-provoking commentary on parent-child relationships, the passage to adulthood, planning for the inevitability of death, and coping with the aftermath of a parent's passing. Few adult readers would not find something to relate to in this interesting and moving memoir. Don't let the heavy subject matter scare you off; this is ultimately a very satisfying work that provides a positive affirmation of life.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Keith M on November 12, 2011
Format: Paperback
It was an engrossing read and an emotional roller coaster ride. Initially I thought I wouldn't be able to relate to the events and experiences because they seemed so unique to the author and her parents, Irmgard and Hans. But as I continued, I felt like I learned a lot about being prepared for parents' passing, about letting go, saying good bye, and finding peace in that momentous transition. Hartmann's writing is excellent, and she has an impressive ability to convey what it was like to go through those years.
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