Scattering Ashes: A Memoir of Letting Go

Scattering Ashes: A Memoir of Letting Go

by Joan Z. Rough

NOOK Book(eBook)

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When her alcoholic and emotionally abusive mother’s health declines, Joan Rough invites her to move in with her. Rough longs to be the “good daughter,” helping her narcissistic mother face the reality of her coming death. But when repressed memories of childhood abuse by her mother arise, Rough is filled with deep resentment and hatred toward the woman who birthed her, and her dream of mending their tattered relationship shatters. Seven years later, when her mother dies, she is left with a plastic bag of her mother’s ashes and a diagnosis of PTSD. What will she do with them?
Courageous and unflinchingly honest, Scattering Ashes is a powerful chronicle of letting go of a loved one, a painful past, and fear―a journey that will bring hope to others who grapple with the pain and repercussions of abuse.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631520969
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication date: 09/20/2016
Sold by: Barnes & Noble
Format: NOOK Book
Sales rank: 1,103,542
File size: 3 MB

About the Author

Joan Z. Rough is a visual artist, poet, and nonfiction writer. Her poems have been published in a variety of journals, and are included in the anthology Some Say Tomato, edited by Mariflo Stephens. Her first book, Australian Locker Hooking: A New Approach to a Traditional Craft, was published in 1980. Her blog can be found at

Table of Contents

Preface 1

Chapter 1 Mourning Dove 5

Chapter 2 The Beginning of the End 11

Chapter 3 Living in a Construction Zone 15

Chapter 4 Summer Heat 24

Chapter 5 Family Dynamics 28

Chapter 6 Just Fine 33

Chapter 7 Mom's Story 38

Chapter 8 Traveling Companions 45

Chapter 9 My Train Wreck 53

Chapter 10 And Then… 58

Chapter 11 Living with Cancer 64

Chapter 12 Finding Common Ground 72

Chapter 13 Waiting 79

Chapter 14 Help 85

Chapter 15 Breaking the Chain 91

Chapter 16 The Second Time Around 100

Chapter 17 The Ghosts of Christmas Past 104

Chapter 18 What's Next? 111

Chapter 19 Moving Day 116

Chapter 20 Settling In 120

Chapter 21 Meeting the Minds 126

Chapter 22 Seesaw 134

Chapter 23 Negativity and Narcissism 144

Chapter 24 Spring 151

Chapter 25 Finding My Own Way 160

Chapter 26 The First Burial 166

Chapter 27 The Heart of the Matter 172

Chapter 28 The Face of Denial 178

Chapter 29 The Second Burial 187

Chapter 30 Finding Compassion 192

Chapter 31 Letting Go … Again 198

Chapter 32 Changing Lanes 204

Chapter 33 Cancer and Joy 211

Chapter 34 Visiting the Past 217

Chapter 35 The Final Burial 225

Epilogue 233

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Scattering Ashes: A Memoir of Letting Go 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
missmickee-bookreview More than 1 year ago
The stages of aging and eldercare with added complications related to emotional/mental illness and addiction are tremendous difficulties and challenges faced by many families today. In "Scattering Ashes: A Memoir of Letting Go" gifted author/storyteller Joan Z. Rough didn't want her elderly mother living in a facility. Instead, she and her husband Bill remodeled their newly purchased larger home with a nicely designed apartment to accommodate her mother. It becomes apparent that despite Joan's love for her mother, skills and knowledge, the reality of her experience wouldn't follow in the direction of her cherished notions and optimistic intentions. When Joan and Bill moved from Vermont to Virginia, her brothers viewed their move as abandoning the family. Holiday family gatherings were tense and confrontational. The troubles within the family were traced to PTSD that likely passed down from their father who had served in WWII returning "shell shocked". Joan's mother didn't fare any better raised by a mentally unstable parent, which likely led to her alcoholism. With such a history of family dysfunction, the abusive cycle continued into the next generation. Unable to find acceptance and peace in her family of origin Joan would suffer herself from PTSD, depressive and anxiety conditions. It seemed no one in her family appreciated her sacrifice to care for her mother. There was a toxic undercurrent of hot anger and hostility between Joan and her mother throughout most of the story. (From the book) "There are times when I absolutely hate the woman. Her incessant negativity takes me down with her, and I wonder how much longer it will be before she dies. Will she ever realize that I've been a good daughter even though I didn't meet all her wants and wishes?" Going against her doctors orders, Joan's mother in her 80's was unable to quit smoking or drinking alcohol; making her extremely difficult to deal with. Although there were frequent vacations, hired help/nursing care available to assist, services from numerous therapists were needed, there was a noticeable absence of significant storyline involving Joan's adult children. Bill was highly supportive, yet their marriage suffered on occasion. Eventually Joan would reconnect more with her art and creative expression, beading, photography, painting and writing. None of these things could erase the pain associated with trauma and loss, instead, she would discover through her creativity and mother-daughter life story, a direction leading towards healing acceptance and forgiveness. With special thanks and appreciation for my complimentary signed copy for the purpose of review.
Beccabee06 More than 1 year ago
As someone who has cared for several elderly family members, I knew that Joan Rough’s book would be interesting and informative. I never imagined how compelling this story would be. Despite their rocky relationship over the years, despite her mother’s history of alcoholism and emotional abuse, Joan invited her mother into her home to care for her during her final years. With unwavering courage, the author tells the story of this journey, examining the difficulties she encounters with honesty and vulnerability. But this is not just the story of a difficult mother/daughter relationship, it’s also the story of the author’s journey to forgiveness and self-acutalization. Telling her story with clear, concise prose, Joan invites the reader into her family and into her heart as she creates a personal pathway toward healing. I was fortunate to have a close and loving relationship with my mother, yet Joan Rough’s memoir reminds me that even in the best of situations, healing after a parent’s death is a very personal but necessary process, and that one can come out happier and healthier on the other side.