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I enjoy speaking to book clubs because I love the wide-ranging discussions that result after smart, engaged people have read my book.

I was invited to a book club on Tuesday night, a book club that’s been going 40 years strong! Amazing.

My book prompted the women to think about when they had a first intimate knowledge of death. One woman had a grandma whose daughter died due to complications after having rheumatic fever. The woman grew up hearing the story from the grandma, and the sadness that was ever-present in her life. Another woman said she didn’t go to a funeral until she was in college–all of her relatives lived to be quite old.

Another woman said that she had an aunt who had cancer, but this was back in the days when the word “cancer” was rarely spoken. In fact, everyone EXCEPT the aunt knew about the cancer. This was also back in the days when doctors told the husbands of female patients the diagnosis, but not the patient herself. So crazy to imagine this today. The woman at the book club said she carried great guilt for keeping that secret from her aunt.

One woman had a sister who died in infancy, and the sister was never talked about again.

I think most everyone might have stories similar to this. Do you have one about silence, illness, and grief?