Tempe businesswoman Joyce Anne Ware Longfellow writes a book to inspire others to engage in conversations with their loved ones on the topic of death and dying.

In Joyce Anne Ware Longfellow ’s family, death of a loved one was not something that was openly discussed.

“In my family we didn’t talk about death. I doubt that anyone knew any other way to deal with it, so we simply didn’t face it or talk about it,” Joyce Anne said.

That approach seemed to work until 1994 when her father became ill and Joyce Anne spent three “traumatic, gut-wrenching” days with him prior to his death.  She took what she learned from the experience with her father to approach her mother’s last days in 2001 differently. With her mother, Joyce Anne was able to spend more quality time, working through issues and “finishing well.”

In response to these experiences, Joyce Anne Ware Longfellow, a 1991 honors graduate of Arizona State University and a Tempe resident, has authored her first book titled “I Could Never Say Goodbye – A Daughter’s Journey to the End of Life with Dad & Mom.” The book is based on Joyce Anne’s recollections and journal entries. She wrote the book over seven years, from 2002-2009, in addition to working as chief operating officer and co-owner of Children’s Dental Village, a Tempe-based dentistry and orthodontics practice for children and teenagers. The book now is available at www.amazon.com, Barnes & Noble Booksellers, Changing Hands Booksellers in Tempe, and at www.icouldneversaygoodbye.com.

The book is a chronicle of Joyce Anne’s love for her parents, how she came to understand them in their last days together, and how she opened lines of communication about dying among herself, her parents and other family members. In the book she describes how she created “ceremonies of dying” such as sharing family stories with her parents, siblings, and grandchildren, bathing her parents in their final hours, honoring their last wishes, and arranging for memorials.

“I decided to write about it because I couldn’t find many memoirs with personal stories like mine that offered support, understanding and comfort regarding death and how to handle it,” Joyce Anne Ware Longfellow said. She also realized that her story could help others who were struggling with how to cope with the illness and impending death of loved ones.

On the back cover of her book, Joyce Anne Ware Longfellow writes, “I invite you behind the veil of secrecy our culture has erected around death with the hope that my story will inspire you to engage in meaningful conversations about dying and that it will enable you to create a different way for you, your family, and the generations to come.”