Singing Mother Home: A Psychologist's Journey through Anticipatory Grief

Singing Mother Home: A Psychologist's Journey through Anticipatory Grief

Singing Mother Home: A Psychologist's Journey through Anticipatory Grief

Singing Mother Home: A Psychologist's Journey through Anticipatory Grief


What happens when an expert on grief is faced with the slow decline of her beloved mother? Like A Grief Observed by C. S. Lewis, Singing Mother Home offers the reader an inside look at the struggles of someone who is an "expert" in coping with loss. Donna S. Davenport was forced to rethink the traditional academic approach to the process, which implied that the goal of grief resolution was to end the attachment to the loved one. Instead, she embarked on a personal exploration of her own anticipatory grief.

This intimate narrative forms the core of her book. It is emotionally wrenching, but it also provides hope for those going through similar experiences. Just as Davenport used her family's tradition of singing to comfort her mother, readers will be encouraged to find their own sources of comfort in family and legacy. The book concludes with two chapters describing psychological approaches to grief and recommending further reading.


For most of the twenty-five years that I have known Donna Davenport, I’ve dreaded the day her mother died, for one couldn’t know Donna without realizing how important Dixie was in her daughter’s life. During these twenty-five years, Donna has been busy providing psychotherapy, teaching psychology at the doctoral level, and writing professional books and articles. More to the point, she possesses a finely honed intelligence, a dry wit, and a deep sense of compassion and understanding that she brings to bear upon those who know her. When I finally met Dixie, I began to see where it all began.

Dixie Davenport was a small and elegant lady. Her pride was mostly expressed in a firm, well-formed character, for she was indeed a person who quietly lived the values she espoused. Her pride was also evident in her dress. a few years ago, Donna and I took my elderly (and also elegant) Aunt Elizabeth and Dixie to the lake in northern New Jersey where Elizabeth grew up and I spent all my childhood vacations. It was a blazingly beautiful fall and the last two weeks the lake was open to visitors: a cool, quiet time with most of the summer folk gone. We had fires at night and spent the days walking in the woods, canoeing, and generally tramping around. Elizabeth kept taking me aside and making sotto voce comments about how beautiful Dixie looked and how well she was dressed. Everything matched. Everything was bright and beautiful. Dixie, with her petite, perfectly postured body and white, bobbed hair always looked like she had just stepped off a fashion runway. in my entire life, I’d never known my aunt to express the slightest insecurity about her appearance. But she did around Dixie.

Shortly after Dixie’s death, Donna spent the weekend at my house. Exhausted from the demands of shuttling back and forth between Dixie’s bedside in Dallas and maintaining a regular teaching and counseling schedule in Bryan, Donna slept most of the time. Finally she went out to her car and brought in boxes of lace and crochet and . . .

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