Heart Work: A Family Pilgrimage Inspired by Sibling Grief
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A Family Pilgrimage Inspired by Sibling Grief
Aimee died at the age of fourteen after an eight-year bout with leukemia. Her younger sister and only sibling, Molly, was just ten at the time. Sixteen years later during an autumn visit to her childhood home in Indiana, she proposed to her parents that together they attempt much deeper and riskier therapeutic work on her sister’s death. And possibly film much of it. The result was a years’ long heart pilgrimage for the Gandour family and a return of Aimee to their fold. Written from the perspective of the mother of both the deceased and surviving sibling, the memoir Heart Work takes us by the hand and leads us through her family’s and her own journey. It offers a rare and intimate developmental perspective on a family living with life-threatening illness and death. Much of it is based on actual data including diaries that the author kept on each of her daughters from birth; taped conversations between family members and Aimee’s hematologist; journaling and notes from therapy and interviews; and writings from each of the siblings as children. Even though the author writes from a bereaved mother’s point of view, she enlightens us psychologically along the way and leaves us with deep questions to ponder. Heart Work is the story of one family in the Midwest but it touches on multiple themes that will resonate with parents and surviving siblings, as well as those who have cared for and supported them.
Author: Mary Jane Gandour