After years of my mother pestering me to read Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, I finally got around to it this past week.
Before I begin my actual review, I just want to put it out there that I have personally struggled with the death of a loved one, and if I had read this book earlier it would have helped my healing so much more than just fighting through my pain. While I am an avid reader, there are few books that have made me so emotional in a way that I felt in my heart, very few books hit home the way this one did. While my grandfather was not sick for very long (he passed away 3 weeks after his diagnosis), and while I don’t personally know anyone with ALS (my initials, fun fact), watching someone you love become weaker and dependent – that is something that is universally hard, regardless of the illness.
Death is a hard subject for people to deal with and talk about, we are at the point in society that we can prevent death to an extent, and prolong life that even 100 years ago wouldn’t have been savable. While death is a natural part of life, we have now become so uncomfortable with thinking and speaking about death, that when the time comes that a loved one passes away, we are confused and emotional – often not being able to handle the situation properly. The same thing happens when someone becomes ill, we refuse to talk about that the illness may take them away from us, that if they die quickly we are unable to deal with it.
When Mitch sees his favourite college professor Morrie Schwartz on Nightline talking about his ALS, Mitch knows he has to go visit him before he passes. The two then set up ‘their last thesis’ and agree to meet on Tuesdays where Morrie would talk to him about life and death, and Morrie would help Mitch understand and accept death, while he was coming to terms with his own.
Through the 14 visits in the book, we get an insight into the final lessons that Morrie instills onto Mitch: topics ranging from regrets, feeling sorry for yourself, death, family emotions, money, forgiveness and saying goodbye. While it is very clear in the early lessons, Mitch is very uncomfortable with the idea of his dear professor (whom he calls ‘Coach’) being sick and heading towards his deathbed, by the end of the lessons, he is becoming more comfortable with talking about it, and accepting the inevitable – Morrie would not be with him much longer.
While I have had people in my life pass away, I had been fortunate enough to make it until 22 years of age before someone so close to my heart passed away. I had no idea how to handle myself. I came home to Manitoba from University in Nova Scotia only to arrive in the hospital a few hours before my Grandpa passed away – I am so grateful that he waited for me to get there. That being said, I missed almost 3 weeks of school because I couldn’t handle going back, and I was fortunate enough to have understanding professors. In hindsight, I should have gone back to my everyday life sooner, but I hadn’t dealt with a death this closely before, and I haven’t since. I spent my days back home staying at my grandparent’s house, taking care of my Grandma. Instead of tending to my own needs I tended to hers, while noble, wasn’t very productive to my own mental health.
After a few weeks I finally received a definite deadline from my professors, and I went back to Nova Scotia to my responsibilities and way too needy boyfriend at the time. Life went on but I hadn’t really taken care of myself. We’re at 5 years later and I have to say, it took me a very very long time to come to terms with my grandfather’s death – he meant the world to me, and I’m sitting here crying right now while writing this, I miss him a lot!
Tuesdays with Morrie is a book that I honestly believe everyone should read. Death is uncomfortable and sad, but it isn’t avoided. We should be able to discuss death, and we shouldn’t ignore the fact that the people around us may pass away before us, or that we may pass away before them. Spending quality time with the people around you and being able to say when your time comes that you lived your life in a way that puts you a peace to leave it, because you have no regrets – that is what Morrie was trying to teach Mitch. I loved this book and when I finished the last page and closed the book, I sat in bed and wept. I highly recommend this book to anyone, especially those who struggle with a loved ones death or illness.