Grief, Loss, Death & Dying

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A Message from JakieReview - A Message from Jakie
A Spiritual Journey of Love, Death and Hope
by Michael Weinberger
Sentient Publications, 2006
Review by Dana Vigilante
Jun 13th 2006 (Volume 10, Issue 24)

When I read the back cover of this book I was, I must admit, somewhat apprehensive; after all the major premise of the book is a man's conversations with his newly deceased wife. Sounded a little hokey to me, but being a devout Catholic and an extremely spiritual person, I decided to give it a look.

I read this book, from cover to cover, in the course of a single evening. It was so good that I found it impossible to put down, and it was a shame to finish it so quickly.

Written by Michael Weinberger, a writer and producer in Hollywood, this story chronicles his deep devotion to his wife Jakie and their children. When Jakie is diagnosed with cancer at 45, Michael becomes her devout caregiver. However, Jakie eventually succumbs to the disease and Michael, beside himself with grief, loses his direction in life.

Suddenly, and without warning, a few days after her death Jakie begins to speak to Michael. Surprised, as well as trying to reassure himself that he's not going insane, Michael begins to record his conversations with Jakie. Again I must voice my own skepticism: I'm fairly sure that Michael's voice is the only one that can be heard on the recordings, no doubt asking Jakie question after question, but lacking a reply.

Jakie, according to the book, reassures Michael that the she is in a wonderful place that defies imagination. She goes on to explain that the courses we all take in life are for a reason, and that the amount of love we give to others here on earth will count once we leave. Michael hits the nail on the head when he draws the reader's attention to a Beatles lyric taken from the song Abbey Road, 'The love we take with us when we die is equal to the love we make while we're here'.

In other conversations Jakie tells Michael that the tears he is crying are perfectly normal and that his love for her has not gone unnoticed in heaven. She explains that she is in a constant state of awareness and beauty, and describes the transitional process, when her soul began to leave her body, in glowing terms (a process that, according to Jakie's account, sounds pretty damn good).

The chapters were easy to read, funny, tender, compassionate and sad. Some of the chapter titles are lines taken from Beatles' songs (It Was Twenty Years Ago Today, I Heard the News Today, Oh Boy and There Are Places I Remember, among others).

This book was excellent, and having lost more than a few close friends and family members in the past few years, it was certainly comforting. Written with candor, humor and a lot of tears, Michael Weinberger has done an excellent job. This was not your typical run-of-the-mill book about death, dying and grief written by someone in the medical field. It was exceptionally well-written by a grieving widower, who, with the help of his wife, showed the reader that life, indeed, does go on.

This book is a must-read for anyone who has ever loved and lost, as well as caregivers, hospice workers and those in the field of spiritual bereavement.

Reading this book was as comforting as a cup of hot chocolate on a gray winter afternoon.


2006 Dana Vigilante

Dana Vigilante is a hospice educator as well as an advocate for proper end-of-life care and a certified bereavement group facilitator. Currently writing a book based on interviews with terminally ill hospice patients, she divides her time between New Jersey and San Francisco.


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