Reviews

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Reactions from Readers and Reviewers

With a loving heart, Linda Campanella shares the story of the loss of her mom, Nan Sachsse, to brain cancer. Campanella sensitively chronicles the family’s commitment to helping Nan live fully and joyfully for whatever length of time she had ahead of her. Not specifically meant as a guide, this memoir does indeed offer a wealth of ideas about how to make the best of a difficult time.

Alexandra Fix, Women’s Lifestyle Magazine

Calling it her own type of therapy, Campanella’s book is like a comforting touch from a friend — who doesn’t know exactly what to say to you when you are going through grief, but just wants you to know that he or she is there.

– Rebecca Holland, Macon Books, examiner.com

The intended audience for this book is broad — any healthcare professionals or lay community member caring for someone who may be in the later stages of an illness. As an oncology nurse, I consider this an important read to help understand the thoughts, feelings, and experiences that patients and caregivers endure. As a daughter, it also is inspiring to see how others made the last months of life memorable and peaceful for a parent or loved one. (…) It may be difficult for some families to imagine the cooperation, support, and presence that the author was able to have. Sharing what did work may, in turn, help others.

Jan Tipton, MSN, RN, AOCN (Review published in Oncology Nursing Forum, July 2013)

Thank you, Linda, sincerely, for sharing your book on my show last week. You, and it, are amazing! I truly feel your book needs to be read by anyone, as it is a life stage that we all will experience. You are a gifted writer!

Mary Jones, host of “The Mary Jones Show” (WDRC-AM1360), Connecticut

CLICK HERE to listen to Mary Jones’ on-air conversation with the author, 9/30/2011

 …its message is eternal and the memoir about learning her mother had terminal cancer will resonate with many who have had time to bid goodbye to a beloved parent while ensuring their last days would be filled with as much joy as possible.

Alan Caruba, Editor of Bookview.com and Founding Member of National Book Critics Circle

Linda’s story is a gift of love…to her mother, to her family and to us. It demonstrates how to have ‘no regrets’ and it shows us all what we can do to ease both ourselves and our loved ones when the time comes….as it comes to all of us eventually. I will tuck this book away until I need it.

 – Jill Graves, Silver and Gray book reviewer

While this book is poignant in its pain and heart wrenching in many of its parts, it is first and foremost a celebration of an unending love between a daughter and her mother as well as a life lived well. It matters little whether you are facing a similar situation as the one the author faced, or if you are simply looking for some solace at a later date, this is one book that you would want to  have at hand when the need arises. Sentimental, but not soppy; sad, yet incredibly filled with joy; and above all filled with dignity and strength. When All That’s Left of Me Is Love is an unforgettable book.

Olivera Baumgartner-Jackson, Mississippi (for Reader Views 10/11)

While Campanella’s book contained heart break and grief, it also offered me, a daughter whose own mother was diagnosed with small cell lung cancer in August of 2010, much needed comfort and perspective. While I have so often felt powerless when confronting my mother’s cancer, Campanella has reminded me of my families’ strength and essential proficiencies. We are masters of loving, and as we weave our love throughout each and every moment that we’re together, we can create a sacred container which honors life and offers healing even in the absence of cure.

Tammie Fowles, psychotherapist and life coach, Maine

I loved many different things about it.  Of course I loved the portrayal of Nancy and the gift she gave of unbounded love and courage along with how it was reciprocated by all of you. … I especially loved your theological reflections, along with the way you captured good pastors doing their job, both Rev. Miller and the hospice chaplain. So often we are caricatured as ridiculously pious and out of touch, clinging to formulaic and rigid beliefs and nonsensical practices but you captured the best of us at work, and for that I thank you.

– The Rev. Gary DeLong, Maine

So many of my friends have lost parents this past year and I know my time will sadly come also. Your book will give me the courage I need to face that time.

Sharon W., Connecticut

I’m about two thirds of the way through your book and enjoying it immensely. It couldn’t be more timely, as I start hospice volunteer training later this month. But I’m also the daughter of two elderly parents (both in their 80s). Your book has prompted me to think much more about the remaining time we have together – focused on living and no regrets.  I’m really sorry for your loss, Linda. Your mom was a very special person, a quiet warrior for love and hope. If I have half her grace and strength when I am faced with my end, I’ll be happy! Thanks for recording your story. It really has me thinking … and feeling.

     – Holly Winters, Connecticut

Your book is a moving, beautiful tribute to your mother-daughter relationship and is sure to be an inspiration to others who go through the slow leave-taking at the end of life.  She was so fortunate to have you to memorialize that process for your father and others.  It will be a great comfort to them.

Susan Aller, Connecticut

I am impressed with your use of language. You deftly paint, with words, a world many of us have difficulty expressing. Cancer diagnosis, grief, strength, friendship, and support are now regular demands in our life. I am always looking for ways to understand the desperation of these truths.

Carey S., Virginia

I can’t believe how much your journey mirrored ours. My mother was given months to live, but we ended up having a bonus year with her. It was a year that I will cherish forever. What a profound experience to be with her the last week of her life. The loss is still raw, but reading your book helped a lot. I am buying copies for my siblings! Thank you for writing it and sharing your experience so publicly.

Betsy F., Connecticut

Your book is truly extraordinary. I have to confess I approached the reading of it apprehensively, afraid that I would feel like a voyeur observing someone else’s pain and grief while remaining disconnected and somewhat embarrassed by my intrusion into something so deeply personal and private, and that consequently I would find the book maudlin.  Instead, you have identified universal themes that touch us all and have woven them into your own experience in a way that allows you to express your love and grief while at the same time relating to a larger audience.  It’s really beautifully done.  Since theme dominates over chronology it is much more richly textured than a traditional diary would be. You effectively establish the enormity of your grief before introducing other voices and memories, and I think that build-up is very important. When your mother’s voice first appears via e-mail, for example, it is stunning – reinforcing your description of her but also strangely soothing and calming the reader.

The book is a wonderful guide through a profoundly sorrowful process. By sharing your experience so openly you have provided a subtle template for those who are going through a similar experience as well as for those who wish to write about it. And for those of us who have already been there, you have touched a chord. Your experience was in so many respects similar to my own long goodbye to my mother, though the circumstances were somewhat different.  You touched my heart in dozens of different ways and I know that it will be the same for everyone who gets to read the book.

Julie Bazenas, Connecticut

You are a skilled and finely tuned writer, Linda, and the book skirts cheap sentimentality to which it could easily have succumbed.  Your sense of humor, and Nan’s, rescued the text from that.  What a gift all of you gave your Mom and yourselves – focusing on living while dying (the Hospice philosophy as you well know) – and the gift of a year much treasured.  I loved the fact that she died in her own home – another great gift.  This morning as I was reading the chapter on birds, dawn broke (it was about 4:30 a.m.) and birds began the Hallelujah Chorus as they do in the trees just outside of my window.  They probably always sang so lustily, but this morning they sounded positively boisterous!  I won’t ever hear them again without remembering Nan.

Valerie Smith, Massachusetts

It is a wonderful book! I laughed, cried and thought very hard throughout, as I felt your journey and lived my own mom’s passing and the endless grief that you so perfectly recorded.  You are a great writer, Linda, and it took a lot of courage and fortitude to share your and your family’s story…. so full of emotion.  As painful as it was reading certain parts, the book is awfully “good” reading … such an odd and potent mix.

Ken Mason, Connecticut

I finished your story two weeks ago, but I haven’t been able to find, nor do I think I have found, adequate words to express my feelings. I was deeply touched in so many ways and on so many levels. I found the book simultaneously sad, happy, uplifting, and thoughtful.  I know I will re-read it some time in the future.  I remain beyond amazed at the depth of sharing you discovered as a family; what a gift!  You received many gifts – from one of the hardest losses a child can bear – that I am sure you cherish.  One of the outcomes is the gift you are now giving to others by sharing your experience.  Thank you.

Carol Persson, Massachusetts

I have spent the past two days consumed with reading your wonderful, beautiful, inspiring and so well-written book. First of all, I cannot express how emotional and touched I felt with reading every page – and how many boxes of tissues I consumed. Yes I cried a lot – and for a range of reasons. Linda, you write so beautifully and capture the feelings of the moment as well as the larger picture of the universe that enveloped Nan, and you provide such an intimate picture of how you and your family worked so closely together to create an atmosphere that was busy, happy, peaceful, positive, sensitive – and oh so loving.  What a gift you have given your Dad – just as you wanted. And what a tribute you have given your Mom – just as you wanted.

– Bobye List, New York

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