The Caregiver’s Tale: Loss and Renewal in Memoirs of Family Life is divided into three parts. The first section, “Care Situations,” provides the cultural context of illness and disability and focuses on four common family care situations: cancer, HIV/AIDS, mental illness/chemical dependence, and dementia. The second section of the book, “Care Relationships,” highlights patterns of caregiving, including caring for children, sibling care, couple care, and parent care. The third section of the book contains well over 100 annotations of memoirs of caregiving, each approximately a half-page in length.


The usual thinking that caring for a seriously ill or disabled family member is a stress-filled ordeal is challenged in The Caregiver’s Tale. A licensed clinical social worker, the author examines phenomena she’d observed in over 30 years of practice: sources of strength for caregivers, how their views on family and the meaning of life changed over the course of caregiving, and how the wisdom of caregiving can be used to sustain others facing the same challenges.

Her examination includes annotations of over a hundred published memoirs of caregiving that reveal that caregiving is a life-transforming experience, a journey from “loss to renewal.” These annotations, most of them written in English from Western cultures from mid-20th century on, focus largely on the work of well-known writers. A useful chart is included that helps readers to determine what is most interesting or valuable to them at the intersection of care situations and care relationships, such as memoirs of HIV/AIDS involving child care, or dementia involving parent care.


Columbia Univ. Press

Place Published

New York


2006 (paperback)

Page Count