Sorry for Your Loss

What Working with the Dead Taught me About Life

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Pub Date 21 Jul 2022 | Archive Date 6 Jul 2022

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Following Kate Marshall’s first year in the mortuary at a north of England NHS hospital, with each month exploring the people she meets, in life and death, as well as her own growing awareness of life behind the veil. 
Meet Mr X. Found in his apartment months after his death, Mr X has no relatives that can be traced. He is the longest-serving resident of the mortuary, having been there for almost a year while the search for his elusive family continues. The staff talk to him like an old friend, but Mr X is disintegrating and a decision has to be made soon.
Meet Mary Her baby girl has been lost in the 15th week of pregnancy, Mary’s last chance to have a child. Mary won’t allow Abigail to leave the mortuary until she has finished reading a book to her. She visits twice each day, sitting with her baby, reading to her, speaking to no one, until she finally opens up to Kate.
Meet Joe: A loving husband and father who has died suddenly of a heart attack. Joe is visited by his wife, his children – and his mistress. On the day that all his worlds collide, Kate witnesses how death can finally reveal the truth of years of lies.
Sorry for Your Loss is haunting, uplifting and informative, with many moments of laughter, and shows us that the way we approach death can make life all the more precious.

Following Kate Marshall’s first year in the mortuary at a north of England NHS hospital, with each month exploring the people she meets, in life and death, as well as her own growing awareness of...

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Featured Reviews

Sorry For your Loss by Kate Marshall

A very interesting read by Kate who works in a hospital in the mortuary dept. I was touched by her stories which showed great respect for our deadly departed ( or in her more amusing antidotes , the not so dear !)
She tells us what's it's like to work in an industry that the majority of us never give a minutes thought to .
It covers her career from before working there right up and including the covid pandemic.
From babies yet unborn to those aged over 100 , Kate and her colleagues treated those in their care with the love we would bestow on them ourselves.

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5 stars
Such a real look at this profession. Very emotional but much needed look at death. I highly recommend this to everyone.

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This was such an emotive read for me in many ways that I wont go into now but it was a beautifully written memoir and I can honestly say that I hadn't given much thought to the staff in hospital that have to care for patients after they have passed but now I certainly will. I think that this is a job that only certain people could do with such a high level of care compassion and sensitivity and that is palpable on the pages of this book. I cried and i felt heartwarmed. An amazing read.

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Although the cover is slightly unsettling- the stories included hold deep meaning about life. A unique approach that offers a lot to the reader. Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read an advanced copy.

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Weird, but very good book. Written in a comforting way, in an uncomfortable subject.

Thanks to author, publisher and Netgalley for the chance to read this book. While I got the book for free, it had no bearing on the rating I gave it.

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I read this in 36 hours. As a nurse with 30years experience it resonated. As a widow of almost three years, it resonated. As a 50 year old woman who lost her mum a year ago, it resonated.
This book was beautifully written and allowed the reader to connect on many levels. It brought across the varying levels of emotion that death hands us and it also showed so deeply, how death is accepted by the world. It is one of those taboo subjects.
While there is a morbid fascination on death, there is also a reluctance to address it. This book deals with it all. I was gifted a woman who knew what her job was, she knew working with death was for her. I was given a variety of characters in the friends & families that came for viewings and I was given a view into how it all collided together to make the world a better place.

Highly recommend this book.

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Every hospital / mortuary needs a Kate working for them. The warmth of this woman shines through this book. She treats everyone with dignity and care.
Kate talks us through her work as a bereavement Officer. From dealing with the deceased to their loved ones. There is even a little humour in the story. However, this is handled in a dignified way.
The heartbreaking stories are the ones with the babies. Kates compassion shines through.

The author also tackles the Covid issue. How with all the regulations in place she and others were unable to give the service they wanted and the deceased should get.

Thank you for opening my eyes to the job that countless unsung hero’s do.

Many thanks to Netgalley and the publisher for the opportunity to see an ARC.

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Kate Marshall’s memoir was never going to be a easy going read but wow is it a compulsive page turner! Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down.

It’s a rare glimpse into the unseen world of the hospital mortuary told through anecdotes about the “clients” Kate saw during the course of her work. There are a variety of cases covered and they were shocking, uplifting, poignant and grim at different terms. Its a little repetitive in places but I certain learnt a lot from reading the book. It’s a fascinating study of the spectrum of human emotion and behaviour when it comes to death. Definitely worth a read!

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‘Sorry for your Loss’ tells the story of Kate Marshall, who has spent the last year working at a mortuary. It recounts her experiences, particularly memorable patients and how the COVID-19 pandemic changed her job, and her perspective on it, forever.

I tend to engage with a lot of medical media (both fiction and non-fiction) and I think this was perfectly done. It is handled with the exact amount of sensitivity that respects the deceased & their loved ones whilst equally making for a compelling read.

I appreciate that the sections on the COVID-19 pandemic did not come until the end of the book; it allowed for readers to truly compare the before and after - and realising just what a loss these people faced by not being able to say goodbye to those they loved.

Kate, and all other medical professionals who worked tirelessly during the pandemic knowing they were putting themselves at risk, are heroes - and this book was incredible.

Thanks to NetGalley for the ARC in exchanged for an unbiased review xo

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This was a fascinating look into something I knew nothing about, the author was correct when she said that most of what we thought we knew came from movies and TV. Some of the stories were just heartbreaking. Many thanks for the opportunity to read this.

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Let me start by saying that I love medical books and I although this book is about the dead, it takes place in a hospital mortuary so I do believe this falls into the "medical" field. That being said and although this will sound strange given the subject matter, I really enjoyed this book. I found it to be extremely interesting reading the details that the author provided about what happens to our bodies after we die. I also found it comforting to read all the different reactions from the family members when they are invited in to view the bodies of their loved ones. There were even certain parts that made me laugh as although this is a serious topic, some of the reactions of people and the way the author wrote about them made it a little more light hearted. It was also interesting to me to read the differences in ways that death is handled in the UK as opposed to the US where I live. One part said that people are not embalmed in UK unless there is going to be an extended viewing of the body. Here in the US most bodies are embalmed regardless of viewing time.
In my line of thinking, books like this are important for people that like me are not only curious about what happens after you die, but help you to see that through it all we are all just humans and reactions will vary by every situation. Sometimes we think there is a right way that we should be reacting or right way of doing things or feeling when someone close to us passes. However, this book just shows you how every one in that situation reacts their own way and you never know how that is going to be until you are in the situation. I think its important to know you don't need to fit into some kind of mold of grief. Its perfectly ok to just feel what you are feeling and this book does a great job of showing you that.

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Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for providing this book in exchange for an honest review.
The stories the author shares in this book are told with gentleness and provide a glimpse into how the mortuary at this hospital operates. It's a fascinating book. Each day provides vastly different dead people with their own vastly different loved ones and their reactions to grief and loss.

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In Sorry for Your Loss, Kate Marshall recounts her experiences of her career and shares stories that range from heartbreaking to laughable to downright obnoxious. I would like to think that grief brings people together, but really it just shows everyone what a person’s truly like, and Kate’s recollections prove this to be true. Regardless of the actions of the people she worked with, though, Kate always maintained her professionalism, and the respect she and the other mortuary workers showed towards their ‘patients’ is truly admirable. I also enjoyed learning about the differences in the death process between the UK and the USA.

All in all, Sorry for Your Loss provides a respectful, honest, and interesting look at the work performed in a hospital mortuary. Additionally, Kate shares her thoughts about how death is viewed in most modern-day societies, and her observations are sure to make readers consider their own views on the topic

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I do not know what to write about this book.
The author pens down her experiences and the way of working at a mortuary in the hospital she works in. She takes a very subtle way of putting death in the forefront of the pages in a very gentle way for the readers. How the closed ones of a deceased person comes to closure or react to the sudden gap left is shown in the book. Different deceased person, different closed ones and different reactions and ways of comeing to terms with it.
Very profound and poignant.

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The hospital mortuary is not a place we think about when we think about care of our loved ones.
But Marshall - a mortuary worker - is someone who is there for us at the saddest times.
In this touching memoir she writes about the sorriest of circumstances: bereaved parents, unclaimed dead, suicides, but she does so with compassion.
We learn that death is very much part of the everyday, but that our dead should still be afforded the respect and love they deserve.
There are touches that break your heart: elderly ladies knitting and decorating ice cream tubs to look like tiny exquisite cots for pre-term babies who have died.
You really feel for Marshall - she has to move the heaviest bodies to accommodate new arrivals: a job the porters don’t want to do. And her writing on the pandemic is so sad as she and her colleagues struggle to provide the space and care needed, although relatives are no longer allowed into the mortuary to be with their family members.
Marshall is not afraid to give her own opinions and judgements but that makes for an authentic voice.
Recommended: a heartfelt and heartening glimpse into a world few of us see or acknowledge.

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I loved this memoir! Kate has a lovely style of writing and it is just like sitting with her while she reminisces, the book sometimes following a thought all the way through to the end but sometimes like a butterfly hopping from memory to memory, a piece of wisdom to a fact about how things work in the mortuary of an English hospital.
I am the same age as Kate with similarly aged children and my thoughts have turned more to my death since Covid has come to town. My parents have also aged rapidly over the last few years and how I honour them in death, mixing their wishes with my own is very poignant. Kate is absolutely correct when she says we need to talk about death more in our culture and normalise it. It has just occurred to me that while I have full funeral instructions for one of my parents, the other hasn’t even mentioned whether they want to be buried or cremated.
When we clapped for the NHS we didn’t think about Kate and her team, after all who thinks about mortuaries at all unless they are forced to, but this book has integrated them (in my mind) into the grand machine that is the NHS: a cog no smaller and less significant than nurses, doctors or any of the other health service staff.

Having read and not rated particularly highly, another hospital memoir that covers the period of the height of the pandemic I totally recommend this one to anyone and everyone.

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I think it was the sub title of the book or byline of the book “What working with the dead taught me about life” is what really caught my attention and made me want to learn more about the book.

Kate tells quite a few different stories of those whose bodies she dealt with and their relatives. As well as the differences, be it the age of the person who died, or the circumstances of how that person died and the effect it had on those mourning them, and the different way people mourn too.

The book really is an emotional read and I identified with some of the different families, through the different loved ones they lost and how they each decided how to handle that loss and the family customs, traditions and rituals they chose to do.

One story Kate tells is “Keith” a man who had lots and lots of tattoos of all the people he loved in his life. It made me both smile and tear up, when Kate revealed that Keith’s son had decided a tattoo of his dad on his arm would be a special thing to do and he proudly shows it to Kate. He has chosen to carry on the tradition his father’s tattoo, through beginning to have tattoos himself and the very first one being one of his Dad, to honour his memory.
I teared up at the losses of babies and the stories Kate told about them.

Kate explains in the book how she and the team she works with handle some of the things we don’t see when we visit our loved ones after they have died. There is no awful gory detail, Kate is very sensitive, matter of fact and I think truthful about what happens behind the scenes.

There were even points in the book when I laughed out loud, the strange things people want that belonged to their loved one. Who on earth would want their dead relatives false teeth, what on earth are they going to do with them. Kate then shares that there will be items like perhaps a handkerchief that still has the perfume/aftershave of the dead person still on it and she has asked relatives if they would like to take it away with them and they have just waved the offer away saying to just throw it away! Then she mentions what I would describe as the one-up-manship behaviour, who loved the person the most etc etc. Death really does seem to bring out the worst in some people! Some of the questions that Kate have been asked

My immediate thoughts upon finishing the book really sum up what I thought to the book. It really honestly was a quite fascinating, original look and description of Kate’s everyday work in a hospital mortuary. It mentions the horror, heartache, and heart-warming moments within Kates jobs. The book also includes how covid created even more heartbreak when loved ones were not allowed to say their final farewells to loved ones either before they died or afterwards in a chapel of rest. All the restrictions and new rules for handling the bodies of those who had covid meant much more extra work as well as more chaos for those working in the mortuary.

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Kate has a very funny yet very respectful way of dealing with death and the final moments a family gets to see their loved ones. I really enjoyed this book for its honestly, vulnerability, but also ability to make you laugh when you thinking about death. Very easy read. The only think that annoyed me was the typical format of the book because this is an advanced copy but it didn't hold me back from reflecting on final moments with loved ones and creating memories that last

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An eye-opening and fascinating read.

This book takes you behind the scenes at a mortuary in a Northern Teaching Hospital. The author isn't a pathologist; she doesn't do postmortems-she assists behind the scenes-e.g. with family viewings of bodies, removing pacemakers etc. The book is a month by month account, e.g. May 2019, June 2019, July 2019, August 2019 etc., which suits me as I like diary format.

Firstly she talks about working as a hoarder clearer. Some disgusting tales from there! I've seen the tv programme A Life of Grime with these sorts of scenarios, so it's interesting to read about someone who has worked in these circumstances. I also love watching things like Dr G Medical Examiner- and had been wanting to read a memoir of this type. This was very quick to read, riveting from the outset, and at times unbelievably disgusting. Things you just wouldn't imagine people do. Many yukky moments- but in a good way as this was all fascinating to read about.

A great read. I love learning what goes on behind the scenes and really enjoy these sorts of memoirs.

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This was a very unusual book for me to pick - it fascinated me to hear about Katie and her job in the mortuary. A fantastic insight of the job and the trials and tribulations she experienced on a day to day basis, Katie seems such a wonderful caring and compassionate person who obviously loved the job and cared for the deceased and their relatives. At times I held my breath with emotion, how she had to deal with difficult relations and the things she was asked to do and yet she still showed great compassion. The last few chapters that dealt with covid just reinforced how difficult peoples jobs were and yet the expectations and pressure placed on them when they had such despair and exhaustion themselves was hard to not feel great sadness. I felt this was a very emotional read but told with such great skill that it truly gave you an insight as to what an important job the mortuary plays in our final journey of life.

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This was a brilliant exploration into the after of death. I really appreciated the authors' focus on interacting with the families of the deceased. As someone who works in healthcare, there isn't much opportunity to follow-up and support the families of the deceased, since there are always more patients. Marshall reminds us of how defining grief is to the family.
I appreciated the lighthearted moments in between, with the overall message of appreciating life and living for today.

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Kate, thank you for giving a wonderful, heartwarming introduction about what happens behind the scenes when someone dies. I liked how you wrote about how you and your colleagues cared for the deceased. You showed warmth, sadness, humour and your own vulnerability within your story. I loved the respect and the support you showed family members. Moving onto the effects covid had on the relatives and their loved ones. Linda did so well bringing your memories to life. It made me feel emotional and I understood more about the impact on the staff who had to deal with the sadness of relatives and the loneliness of the person dying without someone they knew beside them.

This was the best book I have read in both the memoirs and the medical genres - I really will never forget this incredible story. Thank you both

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Thanks to the publisher and Netgalley for the opportunity to read and review this book. An honest and open account of the author's experience of working in a mortuary. Having recently lost my mother this gave me some peace to kno that staff working n thisnprofession care and respect the dead. A moving book.

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grief, grieving, nonfiction, England, memoir, memories, mental-health-issues*****

As a retired RN in the states, there are things that I needed to translate into practices where I live, but some things are the same because whether working in a care home or hospital, or even in the medical examiner's office, it's basically the same. Back in the days when I first became a nurse we had the same clientele and did the autopsies at the main government hospital, this is no longer true where I live. I was glad to see that there are such caring people to help the grieving and commiserated with all of the necessary negative changes in the systems as dictated by the invasion of Covid-19.
I'm not sure how the general public will react to the hard truths of life and death in a city, but those of us who have dealt with the dying and their families (or lack thereof) will hardly be shocked, but will empathize with the author and her co-workers in this (basically) thankless work. I was riveted to the end.
I requested and received a free e-book copy from Ad Lib Publishers, Mardle Books via NetGalley. Thank you

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Watson-Brown shared her experiences of working in a mortuary and readers are given the opportunity to read true stories of specific cases. She also outlines the emotional impact for herself and fellow mortuary employees. I’ve experienced a great loss recently, and this gave me some comfort in knowing that mortuary workers try their best to give our loved ones dignity and respect. 5 stars. Thank you to NetGalley and the publisher for the ARC in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

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