I’m trying to look brave but I’m still crying over the chapter when the Golden Retriever Maggie dies, although it is a beautifully written chapter. I’m not being biased when I say The Space Between: A Memoir of Mother-Daughter Love at the End of Life is an excellent book with an uplifting message about the power of love to heal. I highly recommend you read it and post your review on Amazon and Goodreads.
A stunning, honest book about a mother and daughter at the end of life. Even as a Bereavement Care Specialist, Virginia Simpson was unprepared for the challenges and emotions inherent in caregiving. The Space Between offers hope to us all that despite struggles, misunderstandings, and hurt feelings, when two people are honest and never give up, love can heal even the most contentious relationship. This is a must-read: Touching, insightful, painful, and uplifting.
—Claire Bidwell Smith, author of The Rules of Inheritance
The Space Between is a moving evocation of grief therapist’s Virginia Simpson’s emotional bond with her aging mother, Ruth, and a poignant, clear-eyed account of her journey as Ruth’s caregiver during the last years of her life. In warm but unsparingly honest words, Simpson traces the many painful threads of her relationship with her mother–their shared grief over her father’s untimely death, their conflicts over the abuse Simpson had suffered at the hands of her brother, and their fear and resentment as the balance of power, tipped by Ruth’s failing health, inexorably shifted from mother to daughter. Just as honestly, she captures the deep underlying love, admiration and respect that she and her mother felt for one another–love that they found ways to express even in the midst of their pain. Some scenes in this book will inspire a shudder of recognition in readers who are or have been a parent’s caregiver; others recall the sense of mystery that attends the end of a parent’s life, and the grief that follows. Simpson’s memoir offers a testament to love’s enduring and transformative power throughout our lives and in our closest family ties.
—Diane Guernsey, Executive Editor, Pulse–voices from the heart of medicine (www.pulsevoices.org)
A beautiful, searingly honest book about the exhausting, yet rewarding, experience of being an end-of-life caretaker. Virginia Simpson was her mother’s primary caretaker for the last ten years of her mother’s life and, in scenes that will be familiar to daughters and mothers everywhere, the two of them argue, rehash the past, clash and forgive one another and ultimately reach a place of deep love and healing. A must-read for daughters and mothers at all phases of life. Moving, insightful and uplifting.
—Zoe FitzGerald Carter, author of Imperfect Endings: A Daughter’s Story of Love, Loss, and Letting Go (Simon & Schuster).
The Space Between spoke deeply into parts of my soul and psyche: the bereft, sometimes angry, daughter; the grief expert who was struggling with caregiving; the little girl who ached for an emotionally available parent; the adult daughter who learned forgiveness and compassion. Virginia Simpson’s vulnerability and transparency will walk you into spaces we often hold private; ones that when spoken aloud, unite and free us.
—Susan Salluce, MA, CT, author of griefINK and Out of Breath
I found so much to connect with in Virginia Simpson’s poignant memoir of loving and caring for her mother, Ruth, during her final years. By exploring her own conflicted thoughts and feelings, Simpson gives tacit encouragement for other adult children to do the same. The Space Between shows us that growing older requires bravery and determination, as does caregiving. When we’re willing to speak honestly about the challenges on both sides, it can put us on the path towards a deeper connection with our parents, and our true selves.
—Judith Henry author of The Dutiful Daughter’s Guide to Caregiving
Many of us will face the confusion and heartbreak of helping elderly loved ones through their last days. In “The Space Between,” Dr. Virginia Simpson, an acclaimed bereavement care specialist, not only shares her own journey, but also focuses a lens on her difficult and evolving relationship with her aging mother. An empowering memoir, The Space Between is filled with insights and wisdom about this most human of experiences.
—Lynne Morgan Spreen, author of the award winning Dakota Blue
In Virginia Simpson’s memoir, The Space Between, we’re invited into the intimate story of a mother and daughter in the waning years of their relationship, marked by misunderstandings often experienced by adult mothers and daughters. We follow her as she attends her mother’s end of life journey. Despite Simpson’s career and expertise with death and dying, she finds her mother’s decline painful and illuminating in ways she couldn’t imagine. As we walk in her shoes, we discover how conscious tending and moment-by-moment compassion create transformation and healing for them both, allowing them to say goodbye with love.
—Linda Joy Myers, President of the National Association of Memoir Writers and author of Don’t Call Me Mother
The Space Between is a thought-provoking and moving recollection of the final journey a daughter takes with her mother when forced to face the inevitability of mortality. It is about bridging the gap between generations, ones capacity for love and forgiveness, and personal courage that can be summoned when needed. It is a tale of two women who are headstrong, intelligent, prideful, gracious, forgiving, and bonded by typical mother-daughter love: exasperating, exquisite, eternal. It is an intimate journey of shared lives and history. I was touched by their vulnerability that ultimately led to emotional healing.
—Kathryn Mattingly, award winning author of literary suspense novels Benjamin and Journey, and short story collection Fractured Hearts.
Finally, a memoir of a mother and daughter’s love at end of life. The Space Between is a beautiful story that promises to stimulate a conversation about a daughter’s role during an aging mother’s end-of-life experience and the significance of compassionate healthcare professionals during that time.The strength of The Space Between is that even though mothers and daughters may feel guilt, self-doubt, shame, frayed, worried, scared, frustrated, drained, overwhelmed, or humiliated, at the end of life, all they want to feel is love.
—Barbara Rubel, MS, BCETS, author of But I Didn’t Say Goodbye
The Space Between is an unflinching look at end of life, and in particular, the final days of one mother-daughter relationship. The tables turn on Bereavement Specialist Virginia Simpson when she is cast as caregiver for her mother and must reflect on her life’s work from a new and highly emotional vantage point. A poignant read.
—Lynne Griffin, author of the novels Girl Sent Away, Sea Escape, Life Without Summer, and the nonfiction parenting guide, Negotiation Generation
Reviewed by Carol Hoyer for Reader Views (12/16)
“The Space Between” by Virginia A. Simpson is a book that resonates with me in dealing with my mother’s health and stubbornness to remain in control. As I read Simpson’s journey with her mother, all I could say is “Yep, yep, yep.” She must know my mother.
Simpson’s book is very well written. With such compassion and love, it is a real tribute to her mother and all they have gone through. The subject of her book is never an easy one–death and dying of a parent. Having already lost her father suddenly from a massive heart attack[when she was 12], Virginia finds the situation with her mother a reversal in roles. After her father died, her mother became bitter and angry, and now Simpson finds herself in the same position.
The author describes the turbulent relationship she and her mother had from childhood and how she always felt her mother didn’t love her but valued her [half-brother] more. When her mother became very ill with breathing problems, Simpson was unable to find a caregiver for her so she ended up moving her into her home.
Many readers will find they experience every emotion while reading this beautiful story. I laughed, cried (a lot), and got angry. Readers will also find they are so caught up in the journey they won’t be able to put the book down.
Simpson discusses the lack of support from medical and support organizations, and their attitude of, “It’s just another old person dying.” Simpson is a professional in the field helping others deal with grief yet she can’t handle her own emotions or prepare herself for her mother’s death. As the sole daughter, she is held to higher standards and that seems to put a lot of pressure on her.
As the author states “Mother-daughter relationship are complicated.” The ups, downs, arguments, and anger that occur set up distance between them and then in the next moment they love each other again ignoring all previous crises.
Throughout the 32 chapters, she describes how it is to be the sole decision maker of someone’s health and life decisions but at the same time, shares memories of growing up with her mother as a child and adult. “Yes,” the author says, “even as adults we are growing up.”
“The Space Between” by Virginia A. Simpson is very moving, and she does not lecture or give advice. This is her journey about being a caregiver for her mother in the last years of her life. This journey will remain with readers long after the reading is done.
Reviewed by Viga Boland for Readers’ Favorite
Anyone who has ever had to take on the onerous task of being chief caregiver to parents, once they have become incapable of fully looking after themselves, will fully relate to Virginia A. Simpson’s memoir, The Space Between. In my own late adult years, I faced this same challenge with my mother, for about the same length of time as “Ginnie” did, and like the author, I nearly fell apart at the seams with the load I had chosen to carry. And yet, just as Virginia found, that load brought about one of the best times in my entire relationship with my mother. It was a time when, at last, we came to know so much more of each other than we had during all the The Space Between our mothers’ healthy days and subsequent decline, a time when honesty mattered more than keeping face and always being strong.
This is the story that Virginia A. Simpson shares in The Space Between. With the help of Joyce Myers of the National Association of Memoir Writers, Simpson has “gone deep”, where one should go when writing a memoir. By doing so, by baring her innermost thoughts, fears, and regrets about her past relationship with her mother, and through this chance that life has now given them both, they get to know and understand each other so much better. Virginia discovers the real reasons why her mom was the way she was and why she, in turn, became who she is. And the most important thing they each discovered was that all along, they had indeed truly loved each other, but too many things had gotten in the way of expressing it. That was exactly what I had experienced with my mother.
I am a huge believer in the importance of writing memoirs. It is stories like The Space Between that puts into print what everyday people live with and feel. The world wide web can fill us in on what we need to know when we become chief caregiver to someone we love. But it is memoirs like The Space Between by Virginia A. Simpson that will tell us how it really feels to step into that role.