In a deeply personal and moving book, the beloved NPR radio host speaks out about the long drawn-out death (from Parkinson’s) of her husband of fifty-four years, and of her struggle to reconstruct her life without him.
With John gone, Diane was indeed “on her own,” coping with the inevitable practical issues and, more important, with the profoundly emotional ones. What to do, how to react, reaching out again into the world—struggling to create a new reality for herself while clinging to memories of the past. Her focus is on her own roller-coaster experiences, but she has also solicited the moving stories of such recently widowed friends as Roger Mudd and Susan Stamberg, which work to expose the reader to a remarkable range of reactions to the death of a spouse.
John’s unnecessarily extended death—he begged to be helped to die—culminated in his taking matters into his own hands, simply refusing to take water, food, and medication. His heroic actions spurred Diane into becoming a kind of poster person for the “right to die” movement that is all too slowly taking shape in our country. With the brave determination that has characterized her whole life, she is finding a meaningful new way to contribute to the world.
Her book—as practical as it is inspiring—will be a help and a comfort to the recently bereaved, and a beacon of hope about the possibilities that remain to us as we deal with our own approaching mortality.
Rehm (Finding My Voice), a popular National Public Radio host and author, has dedicated this heartfelt memoir to her husband, the late John Rehm, and the book speaks powerfully to those who have lost a loved one and found the strength to carry on. Rehm describes her 54-year marriage to John, a successful attorney, in honest terms. She was clearly in love with him and in awe of him, but she also admits that the marriage was not perfect. At times, her husband withdrew into silence, and the couple considered divorce. On the whole, as Rehm describes, the union was one in which love and mutual encouragement played significant parts. She writes that after her spouse was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease and began to slowly decline in health, they grew even closer; she crawled into his hospital bed to tenderly read him poetry. Eventually John was severely disabled, angered and disheartened by a system that disallowed physician-assisted death in such cases, and he made the decision to end his life by refusing sustenance. Rehm is now closing in on 80, and nearing her retirement from radio. The seasoned broadcaster explores the many changes and challenges that come when a spouse dies; she shares feelings of guilt, loneliness, fear, and worry as well as acknowledging her strengths and newfound independence. Rehm's forthright memoir, which probes the process of loss, grief, and renewal, will find a wide audience with fans of her show as well as many others facing this profound passage.