FALL 2023

We're All Gonna Die

‘How to Say Goodbye’ by Wendy MacNaughton

Bloomsbury Publishing, 128 pp

Oakland-based artist Wendy MacNaughton spent 2017 at the Zen Project Hospice in San Francisco, sitting with residents, listening to them reflect on death. She wrote down what she heard and drew what she saw. “Drawing is a way we can look closely at something we might otherwise be afraid to look at,” is one lesson in How to Say Goodbye. MacNaughton gave away the first edition of two hundred books, asking each recipient to pass it on to someone else when they needed it. The outpouring of stories from people whom the book helped prompted the new edition, which was published by Bloomsbury this past July.

While there is no one right way to say goodbye, at the Zen Hospice MacNaughton learned about the “Five Things,” pictured below, variations of which are shared by many groups and cultures.

“Death isn’t something to be hidden or shied away from,” MacNaughton writes. “Dying is our greatest reminder to embrace the present and to deepen our relationships. At the end, that is all we have.”




All drawings by Wendy MacNaughton, from How to Say Goodbye.

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