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Phantom Limb

About the Book

Phantom Limb

"Do you know what I do when I leave my parents' apartment? You must never say another word about this, but I get into my car, roll up all the windows and I scream." So says the author's cousin, speaking with self-aware humor of the difficulties faced by a grown child at the end of her parents' lives.

Phantom Limb, a story of a family across generations, is a book for anyone going through the last years and loss of their parents -- or, indeed, any great loss that survives in memory.

The book takes its title from the situation of the author's mother who, having lost a leg, continued to feel pain as though the leg were still present. The author suggests we all have the condition of phantom limb: someone no longer with us remains a part of us. The question is: do we hold the memories, or try to rid ourselves of painful phantoms?

Phantom Limb is a book in which ordinary people live through critical tests of body and spirit. When she learned her daughter had cancer, Sternburg's mother said, "I am a lioness and you are my cub." Years later, successfully recovered, Sternburg sets out to help her mother's pain. Along the way, she uncovers new thinking about the relationship of mind to body, about the nature of memory and the of the brain. A poignant story of discovering the depth of love between grown child and parent, Phantom Limb provides a structure for life choices. In its resolution, the book offers a vision that links us all in the struggle to make peace with the physical and emotional phantoms of the past.

Phantom Limb charts a journey every adult must make.

Phantom Limb
by Janet Sternburg

  • Publication Date: April 1, 2002
  • Hardcover: 148 pages
  • Publisher: University of Nebraska Press
  • ISBN-10: 0803242964
  • ISBN-13: 9780803242968