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Good Grief

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What to expect

‘The most life-affirming book ever written about death.’ Sandi Toksvig

‘One of the most powerful and helpful books about grief that you will ever read.’ Anita Anand


‘Grief is more than the price of love. It is love. We must learn not just to live with it, but to make it welcome.’

Mother and daughter Anne Mayer Bird and Catherine Mayer were widowed within 41 days of each other on the eve of the pandemic, then locked down alone. Their profound isolation was broken just once a week, when Catherine visited Anne to care for her, at distance and in a mask. Together they found ways to navigate their loss and the startling questions and challenges that confronted them.

In this memoir, Catherine also investigates the possibility that her husband, renowned musician Andy Gill, contracted Covid-19 when his band, Gang of Four, toured China in late 2019. Her main focus, however, is not on death, but on life and love. This is a captivating account of lives well lived, moving and spiked with black humour. It is interwoven with letters Anne wrote to her husband John to tell him of the astonishing and heartrending events since his death and her small triumphs in living independently.

In sharing their insights and experiences, Catherine and Anne aim to help those who have lost or will lose people or who wish to know how best to support others in such circumstances. They also celebrate love—for John and Andy and each other.

‘We are extraordinarily lucky, my mother and I. We have each other and we have this room.

‘In this living room, we are learning to embrace the things we can’t touch, each other and the lovely dead.’

Critics Review

  • ‘One of the saddest things I’ve ever read but also the most powerful. It’s made me want to cling tight to the people I love while acknowledging their mortality and mine too.’ Marian Keyes

    ‘The most life-affirming book ever written about death.’ Sandi Toksvig

    ‘One of the most powerful and helpful books about grief that you will ever read.’ Anita Anand

    ‘A perfect book, specific and personal, but spot on about the universal nature of grief and how we grieve. Every page sings and, though often heart-breaking, it’s genuinely an utter pleasure to read.’ Kate Mosse

    ‘Every life has a start, a middle and an end. Everyone prepares for the first two events, but are we doing what we can to prepare for the end? Catherine and Anne generously share their experience of widowhood knowing that they can help others prepare and cope with grief. An important book on a very important subject.’ June Sarpong

    ‘Fantastic book, full of beautiful honesty’ Rio Ferdinand

    ‘Smart, upbeat and brimming with fortitude’ Observer

    ‘Exceptionally insightful . . . would be very helpful to anyone who has lost someone dear – or who knows someone who has. Which is all of us.’ Maggie Alderson for the Lady

    ‘A powerful read’ Bella

    ‘A celebration of life’ i

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