STRATFORD, Conn. – In a culture where death is seen as the ultimate failure, where suffering is to be avoided at all cost, and assisted suicide is increasingly the answer, what is there left to say about end of life issues? And, what’s love got to do with it?
Perhaps it’s counterintuitive, but once we recognize that love and suffering, forgiveness and dying emerge from the same inner place, a place of radical surrendering of self, we can begin to view end of life issues differently. As authors Lynch and Mariconda say, “If we learn to suffer well, we’ll learn to love well. To forgive others and life. And when we do these things well, we’ll die a joyful death.” As contemporary as it is mystical, as practical as it is inspirational, After the Diagnosis…A Guide for Living takes the reality of dying and death beyond simple acceptance to a place of true transformation. It is also a must-read for caregivers who often become the silent victims of a loved one’s disease. Why not learn to walk this shared journey together in a life-giving way?
Book Information: The Reverend Thomas F. Lynch and award-winning author Barbara Mariconda’s book, which Kirkus describes as “An expansive, richly sympathetic book about the last and least-understood phase of life” was honed from Lynch’s 46 years as a Catholic priest pastoring a large multi-cultural parish. A trained family counselor by trade, Fr. Tom spent a lifetime “walking families to the door” as he describes the final phase of living. Upon meeting 74 year old Lynch, a jovial Irishman with a mischievous smile, a twinkle in his eye, and a down-to-earth nature, one is often surprised by the way he can suddenly see into the depths of the hearts of those he ministers to. Co-author Mariconda describes him as something of a Shaman, a man uniquely at home in the spirit world. This gift has taught him much through the years, and Mariconda brings his insights to life through anecdotes of the many people he’s ministered to, making it “real.”
The book took a full seven years to complete. The journey was not always an easy one. While Lynch was pastoring a church of 3,000 families, Mariconda was designing and publishing educational resources and four novels for middle grade and young adult readers. Add to that their varying perspectives – Lynch, a male and a cleric, Mariconda a female lay person. Both authors are strong-willed, opinionated, and passionate people who butted heads many, many times during the creative process. “I’d insist on “A,” Mariconda recounts, “he’d insist on “B” and we’d hash it out for as long as it took to get to an expansive and inclusive “C.” The result is a book that is candid and conversational, addressing the difficulty of facing grown-up challenges, often through the lens of one’s naïve, grade-school faith. The pair tackles the really tough questions, “Why did this happen to me? What happens to me when I die? Will I go to heaven? What was my purpose in life? Where is the hope in this?” And they ask the reader to consider the following: “When suffering empties you, what will you fill that space with? Yourself? Or with God?” The first choice results in tremendous anxiety and a compulsion to control, the latter in the freedom of surrender and the discovery of your true self – of who you are in God.
This is a book that is as much about living life to the fullest as it is about the path of suffering, dying, and death, and the way that love and mature faith can bring freedom and joy to every aspect of the journey.
As the most Reverend Frank Caggiano, Bishop of the Bridgeport, CT diocese said, “In a world that misunderstands the mystery of serious sickness, Father Tom Lynch and Barbara Mariconda have masterfully narrated a path that offers healing and hope for anyone who is seriously ill. Through their keen insights, personal stories and spiritual wisdom, After the Diagnosis: A Guide for Living provides its readers with all the tools needed to seek personal healing and to understand suffering as a catalyst for a renewed life filled with zeal, purpose and an appreciation of the present moment as a gift. I highly recommend this book for anyone who has received a diagnosis of serious illness and wishes to seek healing and hope. I also commend it to anyone who desires to learn how to live life fully, one day at a time.”