While my new book, YOU’D BETTER NOT DIE OR I’LL KILL YOU, covers both my experiences as the wife of a man with a chronic illness as well as those of mothers of ill children and children of ill parents and has my slightly (OK, not-so-slightly) irreverent tone, Diana Denholm’s excellent guide cuts straight to the thorny issues faced exclusively by wives with a seriously ill spouse in a refreshingly practical, no-nonsense style.
And oh, are there thorny issues. Diana, a psychotherapist in Florida who lived everything she writes about during the ten+ years her husband suffered one medical crisis after another, gives women permission to feel angry, guilty, depressed or bewildered, and provides step-by-step guidance for how to communicate those feelings to the ill spouse. Many women assume it’s simply their “wifely duty” to handle the 24-7 task of caring for their husbands, even as they wish they could slip out the back door and make a fast escape. What’s so liberating about her book is her straightforward, non-judgmental way of saying, “It’s perfectly normal to feel the way you do, and here’s how to handle it.”
She lists questions to ask and resources to seek, shares anecdotes from other wives who’ve been in the caregiver role, suggests methods of giving self-care – all with a therapist’s comforting voice. I can see why the book has garnered praise from both mental health professionals and the CEO of AARP.
As women outlive their men in more and more marriages, the book is sure to become essential reading.