Publication Day Push: A Thousand Goodbyes – Ruth Graham

*I received a free copy of this book with thanks to the author and Rachel Gilbey at Rachel’s Random Resources blog tours. The decision to review and my opinions are my own.*

Blurb: If you liked Adam Kay’s book, ‘This Is Going To Hurt’, you’ll love the joyously life-affirming memoir, ‘A Thousand Goodbyes’. 

When Ruth Graham left the world of stand-up comedy to become a funeral celebrant, she’d imagined a less combative career.

Over a thousand services later … she knows better.

Probably her most demanding role to date, Ruth has needed every ounce of diplomacy, courage, humour and her wits about her to juggle the daily challenges. From grief-stricken families to amorous widowers through to plate-smashing, warring siblings and even a flock of stoned doves at a Rasta funeral. 

As the story unfolds we witness her new career developing into a
24/7 commitment. Will it break her?

Or will it be the spur she needs to get her own life in order?

Jaw-dropping, informative, moving and hilarious in turn, ‘A Thousand Goodbyes’ is a reminder that nobody is guaranteed a tomorrow; whilst encouraging everyone to seize their day. 

Ruth Graham tells the fascinating, moving and often funny story of how she chose the role of a funeral celebrant and the many anecdotes (hers and those of others) that resulted from her career choice.

We get the real insider information here on how the whole process works, and an awful lot of insight into the strange and sometimes unpleasant ways people can behave when bereaved. The author pulls no punches and shows us the good, the bad, and the downright obnoxious. But she does it all with a warmth, understanding and compassion that soften even the harshest portraits, reminding us that people can’t always be at their best when faced with their worst experiences.

The tone of the book is consistently light-hearted and humorous – I fully appreciate what a blessing it must be to mourners and celebrant alike, when the celebrant is able to keep their optimism as well as their composure – but never mocking. The deceased and bereaved are treated with a down-to-earth respect and humanity, rather than with sombre deference. Halfway through the book, I suddenly announced to my husband that THIS was how I would like to be remembered when I go and that he should arrange a secular celebrant for my funeral. (He was a bit concerned until I explained which book I was reading!)

In the conclusion, the author reflects on how Covid-19 changed celebrancy and the ways in which we approach loss and mourning. I found it deeply interesting to find that there were positives, as well as the obvious negatives, to some of the changes. But then, it appears that Ruth Graham can find the positives in most things!

This book is fascinating, entertaining, and very easy to read. I would recommend it to anyone who loves a light-hearted memoir which covers a career/subject that little is usually known about.

So now I sit in living rooms with families, posthumously getting to know their loved ones. I deftly avoid being drawn into family politics, even as they unfold around me. I drink tea and coffee of varying qualities, stroke pets, make small talk, comfort people and get them to the stage where they’re relaxed enough to laugh, cry, argue, disagree and support each other, even with a stranger in their midst.
I ask questions and scribble notes madly as the life stories, (sometimes mundane but more often than not, quite incredible), reveal themselves. And then, I go away to craft something inspiring that will celebrate the person’s life and reflect their and their family’s wishes.

– Ruth Graham, A Thousand Goodbyes

You can find more from Ruth Graham at her website here, or follow her on Twitter.

A Thousand Goodbyes is available on Amazon right now!

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