I drew a comic memoir called “A Death in Chicago” about my father’s final year. It’s a personal story but also shows a time of momentous change in the way we think about death. Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, who started that change with her book, On Death and Dying, appears in the story, as she did in our lives.
This fall, “The Intima,” an online journal of narrative medicine, published the comic.
Here is the link to the memoir: “A Death in Chicago”
More about “A Death in Chicago”
“The Intima” also published a lovely essay by Jonathan Garfinkel about “A Death in Chicago.”
He wrote, “Pat Arnow’s touching account of the death of her father illustrates the power of graphic memoir, showcasing both her talent as illustrator and writer. There is something simple and intimate in the story she tells, as Arnow lets us into the private moment between father and daughter, father and family, and we witness his journey toward death from cancer. The effect is incredibly moving.”
Here’s the link to Jonathan Garfinkel’s review: On Compassionate Storytelling in Graphic Memoir: Pat Arnow’s “A Death in Chicago, 1972: Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and My Family” By Jonathan Garfinkel
And here’s a link to Jonathan Garfinkel’s own excellent piece in “The Intima,” “Diabetes Diary.”
The blog from “The Intima” included an essay I wrote about another “Intima” story by Karen Dukess. It’s about her father’s dying and how different attitudes are now–and how some things never change in the process of death and dying.
“Karen Dukess writes…as if those choices were an everyday thing,” I said. “Well they are—now.”
“In this lovely memoir of a beloved father, it is striking to me how things have changed from when my dad faced terminal cancer in the early 1970s. Then the rule was maximum intervention no matter what the prognosis. No one would quibble with doctors. People died in hospitals.”
Here is the link to my essay: “Dads, Daughters, Death“
The Intima and the importance of Storytelling in Medicine
“The Intima” is devoted to the use of storytelling to bring compassion and better communications between caregivers and patients. People involved in the field include those who provide health care, who need it, and families and friends. It’s a growing field–you can get a master’s degree in narrative medicine! You can also study my favorite subspecialty, Graphic Medicine–or comics that have to do with health and illness. The field feels especially suited to my comics, because I tend to draw and write about death.
Here’s a link to this interesting journal: The Intima