Books to Read as Your Mother Lay Dying

Everything you can’t say about love and loss can be found in the pages of a story.

D. A. Langley
Human Parts
Published in
11 min readApr 2, 2024

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Photo by cottonbro studio: https://www.pexels.com/photo/woman-sitting-on-floor-reading-book-2925308/

I’d like to think I have a decent grasp on the basics of life and death, but all I know is that my mother is going to die. Soon. The nursing home has transitioned her to “hospice” care, and hospice means Mom will be made comfortable as her body shuts down in the coming weeks, days, or hours.

My mother’s imminent passing is not a shock. Our family, once a jovial band of down-to-earth folk, has struggled with her early-onset Alzheimer’s diagnosis with the alacrity of elephants weeping over the loss of their matriarch. It’s too soon, too immense, all we can do is sway.

Packing, I don’t think about how desperate I am to be by her side. I think about books.

Standing in front of my massive bookcase, peace radiates from the colorful spines and stacked pages. The bookshelf is an industrial masterpiece of canary yellow shelves screwed into black iron pipes. Made by my partner, a man good at math and wooing a woman obsessed with bibliomania, it’s a symbol of knowledge and comfort.

I’m grateful for friends who’ve shared their condolences, especially those who’ve been touched by dementia and know the process is like having paint thinner applied to your…

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D. A. Langley
Human Parts

Relationship coach, BossMom, and ghost writer wrapped in a 1950s apron. www.dearsweetandlow.com