My Grandfather's Blessings: Stories of Strength, Refuge, and Belonging

Remen, Rachel Naomi

Primary Category: Literature / Nonfiction

Genre: Collection (Essays)

Annotated by:
Donley, Carol
  • Date of entry: Dec-06-2002
  • Last revised: Jan-14-2010


This is a collection of stories from Dr. Remen’s own life and from her practice as a pediatrician and psychiatrist. She works with many cancer patients and others who are terminally ill as well as with the chronically ill. Her stories record patients and their families finding what is authentic and meaningful in their lives when they have been forced deeply into their own vulnerability. She also speaks from her lifelong struggle with Crohn’s disease.


In a world that values individualism and self-sufficiency, we often lose our ability to be compassionate, to appreciate connections with others, to bless and be blessed. This remarkable collection gives many narratives of people transforming their suffering into wisdom, of serving the wholeness in each other, of enjoying their connectedness. Remen points out the differences between fixing, which many doctors do well, and serving, which is a mutual belonging. One of many remarkable stories describes a woman struggling after her mastectomy to have any sense of wholeness; instead of reconstructive surgery, she chooses to have tattooed flowers all along her mastectomy scar.


Riverhead Books

Place Published

New York



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