On My Own
By Diane Rehm
ANY PERSON WHO listens to NPR knows Diane Rehm as she has hosted her morning discussion show since 1979. She lives in Washington, DC where she is in the midst of and friends with many significant movers and shakers of American life. “On My Own” is a moving account of the illness and death of her husband John who suffered from Parkinson’s.
John came to the point where he wanted to die but could not receive assistance from medical professionals. He chose to not take food or water in a heroic action which ended his life in just 10 days at age 83. Diane shares her experience in supporting him in his decision and has since become a spokesperson for the “right to die” movement. She writes, “I rage at a system that would not allow John to be helped toward his own death.”
The main focus of this very personal account is her struggle to cope with life after John’s passing. In painful recounting she informs readers that she and John had a marriage with many conflicts but with a special closeness as well. She is willing to open herself to readers in an intimate and revealing manner. She testifies that her loss has caused her to not be able to concentrate on her work and her other relationships.
Diane Rehm writes, “Yet, I think for me the greatest apprehension was, how do I live alone? How do I start navigating the world from a changed perspective, that of living without a spouse?”
This is certainly the question many have asked, but she digs deep into her feelings in a way that will prove insightful for most readers. As a very social person her new life is difficult in that she feels so alone. How many others can testify to that adjustment?
For any person recently bereaved this autobiography will help by offering hope there is a way to survive the grief. She tells of a conversation with former newsman, Roger Mudd, on whether there is a heaven. Mudd said he believes there is. Rehm hopes there is the possibility of a reunion with loved ones.
Some of the more fascinating sections of the book are her emails written to her deceased husband. They become a way for her to express her emotions and keep him in the forefront of her memory. She writes, “Some part of me will grieve forever.”
This book is a thoughtfully written and deeply felt account of an experience almost all people have faced or will face.
Emerald Isle Books