Harper Collins

10 December 2020
(UK, Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa)
July 2021
(USA and Canada)


‘Grief is more than the price of love. It is love. We must learn not just to live with it, but to make it welcome.’

Mother and daughter Anne Mayer Bird and Catherine Mayer were widowed within 41 days of each other on the eve of the pandemic, then locked down alone. Their profound isolation was broken just once a week, when Catherine visited Anne to care for her, at distance and in a mask. Together they found ways to navigate their loss and the startling questions and challenges that confronted them.

In this memoir, Catherine also investigates the possibility that her husband, renowned musician Andy Gill, contracted Covid-19 when his band, Gang of Four, toured China in late 2019. Her main focus, however, is not on death, but on life and love. This is a captivating account of lives well lived, moving and spiked with black humour. It is interwoven with letters Anne wrote to her husband John to tell him of the astonishing and heartrending events since his death and her small triumphs in living independently.

In sharing their insights and experiences, Catherine and Anne aim to help those who have lost or will lose people or who wish to know how best to support others in such circumstances. They also celebrate love—for John and Andy and each other.

‘We are extraordinarily lucky, my mother and I. We have each other and we have this room.

‘In this living room, we are learning to embrace the things we can’t touch, each other and the lovely dead.’


“A perfect book, specific and personal, but spot on about the universal nature of grief and how we grieve. Every page sings.” Kate Mosse
“The most life-affirming book ever written about death.” Sandi Toksvig
“A most powerful and helpful book about grief.” Anita Anand
“One of the saddest things I've ever read but also the most powerful. It's made me want to cling tight to the people I love while acknowledging their mortality and mine too.” Marian Keyes
“Fantastic book, full of beautiful honesty on such a dark subject.” Rio Ferdinand

“Every life has a start, a middle and an end. Everyone prepares for the first two events, but are we doing what we can to prepare for the end? Catherine and Anne generously share their experience of widowhood knowing that they can help others prepare and cope with grief. An important book on a very important subject.” June Sarpong