Traveling Solo

A Life Well Lived, A Death Well Planned

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Pub Date 21 May 2024 | Archive Date Not set

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“This is a beautiful book, rich in humanity, wisdom, and humor. It is going to help a lot of people.”—Anne Lamott

After years of battling a mysterious illness, Diana Williams chose to end her life. This extraordinary and intimate memoir, written in the months before her death, bravely explores the profound question: How much suffering is enough?

For three decades, Williams relentlessly pursued a cure for the symptoms that plagued her: grinding exhaustion, night sweats that drenched the sheets, brain fog that made her forget her own address, and throbbing headaches and chills that left her bedridden for days. Dozens of specialists diagnosed her with everything from multiple sclerosis to Lyme disease to toxic mold exposure and prescribed grueling, expensive, and ultimately, ineffective treatments.

Hope vanished with each failed therapy, and her symptoms grew worse. Rather than face a life of increasing pain and disability, and after deep contemplation, Williams chose assisted dying at the Swiss nonprofit, Dignitas.

Traveling Solo raises questions millions of people ask, too often in silence: What makes life worth living? How much can one person bear? Most of all, should we afford humans the choice to end their lives on their own terms?

More than a chronicle of one woman’s battle with illness, this is also a story of a family coming to terms with a heartbreaking decision, as well as an ode to abiding friendship.

Published posthumously, Traveling Solo was written to inspire meaningful conversations and compassion for those who choose to die rather than endure continued suffering. It offers a candid portrait of the fragility of life and the preciousness of beauty when one’s days are numbered.

“This is a beautiful book, rich in humanity, wisdom, and humor. It is going to help a lot of people.”—Anne Lamott

After years of battling a mysterious illness, Diana Williams chose to end her life...

Advance Praise

“Diana Williams has written an amazing book about her life’s often harrowing journey, her loves, her joys, her trials, and her decision to die with dignity at the time and place of her choosing. It’s a beautiful book, rich in humanity, wisdom, and humor. It is going to help a lot of people.” —ANNE LAMOTT

“Traveling Solo is a candid exploration of a life of suffering and a planned death. Diana boldly lived life on her own terms—both in how she lived and in her decision of how to end it. This is a timely book as the issue of taking control of one’s final days is debated around the world.” —DIANE REHM, award-winning journalist, author of When My Time Comes, and host of the podcast On My Mind

“It takes a lot of courage to live your life on your terms. Diana’s story is more than a portrait of one woman’s final days; it’s a raw and revealing look at the complexity of love, life, and death.” —MEL ROBBINS, New York Times bestselling author and host of the award-winning Mel Robbins Podcast

“Brimming with acuity and uncommon beauty, Traveling Solo is a testament to the strength of the human spirit. It shows that surrender does not mean defeat: it means standing in the indomitable fullness of our power.” —ANITA HANNIG, author of The Day I Die: The Untold Story of Assisted Dying in America

“An extraordinary, tender, and honest account of the profundity of meeting life and death.” —REV. JOAN JIKO HALIFAX, Abbot, Upaya Zen Center

“Diana Williams has written an amazing book about her life’s often harrowing journey, her loves, her joys, her trials, and her decision to die with dignity at the time and place of her choosing. It’s...

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ISBN 9798891380516
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Featured Reviews

This is a difficult read about a woman who had been suffering with a debilitating illness (MS) for many years, and then decided to end her life. Dignitas is a Swiss organization that does not require an individual be terminally ill to end one's life. After pursuing all available treatments, the author connects with Dignitas and, as per their legal protocol, makes arrangements to go to Switzerland and end her life. Her recollections and emotions all the way are poignant. There is no commentary or input from family members or friends. Her own exploration of her right to die in the face of insufferable circumstances is the subject of this book.

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This poignant memoir delves into the journey of living with an undiagnosed chronic illness, navigating through suffering, and finding solace in surrender. Diana's struggle with debilitating symptoms, futile medical treatments, and the search for understanding highlights the challenges of unseen illnesses. Diana says “Not for the first time I wished I had a visible, bleeding wound that people could see, and that would elicit understanding and sympathy”

Despite the sadness, her story is laced with humour and love from supportive family and friend who are understanding, compassionate, empathic and by her side through decades of difficulty pain and distress.

Facing relentless suffering, conflicting medical opinions and no answers, Diana turns to Dignitas for assisted dying, realizing that surrendering can bring peace and strength. Her narrative prompts reflection on society's approach to death and the need for compassion in end-of-life decisions.

Diana's hope to shift cultural attitudes towards death and dying resonates strongly, advocating for the right to die with dignity. Diana says “Deciding to end one’s life is a personal choice. It should also be a human right” Her bravery in taking control of her final days serves as a powerful testament to the importance of autonomy in such decisions, I think Traveling Solo will inspire meaningful conversations, and I hope in the future more people will be able to have a dignified death.

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Thank you NetGalley for allowing me to read this ARC in exchange for an honest review

Title: Traveling Solo

Rating: ★★★★

In "Traveling Solol" author Diana William delivers a poignant and beautifully written narrative that chronicles the life of a woman who defies the odds in the face of chronic illness and misdiagnosis for over three decades. Through her struggles, triumphs, and ultimate decision to take control of her destiny through assisted suicide, this book offers a compelling exploration of autonomy, resilience, and the complexities of living with chronic illness.

The protagonist's journey is nothing short of inspiring. From the initial despair of being misdiagnosed to the relentless pursuit of answers and treatments, readers are taken on an emotional rollercoaster as she navigates the challenges of her condition. Despite the countless setbacks and moments of doubt, her unwavering determination shines through, painting a portrait of strength and resilience that is both admirable and deeply moving.

What sets this narrative apart is its unflinching portrayal of the protagonist's decision to end her life through assisted suicide. Through thoughtful prose and raw emotion, the author delicately navigates the sensitive subject matter, presenting it not as a defeat, but as a powerful assertion of autonomy and agency over one's own body. The decision is portrayed not as an act of weakness, but as a courageous choice made after careful consideration and reflection—a testament to the protagonist's unwavering resolve and unyielding spirit.

The writing itself is exquisite, with lyrical prose that captivates the reader from the very first page. The author has a remarkable ability to evoke a wide range of emotions, from heartache and despair to hope and triumph, making for a deeply immersive reading experience. Each sentence is imbued with meaning and depth, inviting readers to contemplate the complexities of the human experience and the fragility of life itself.

While "Traveling Solo" is undeniably a heartbreaking read, it is also a profoundly empowering one. Through the protagonist's journey, readers are reminded of the importance of self-determination and the inherent value of every individual's lived experience. It is a story that lingers long after the final page is turned, challenging readers to reconsider their own beliefs and perceptions surrounding illness, autonomy, and the right to choose.

In conclusion, "Traveling Solo" is a beautifully written and deeply affecting story of courage, resilience, and the power of self-determination. With its compelling narrative and thought-provoking themes, it is a book that resonates on a profound level, leaving an indelible mark on the reader's heart and mind. Highly recommended for anyone seeking a powerful and thought-provoking exploration of the human experience.

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Don't you wish you could understand the meaning of the term "dying well"? This book gives every reader all the information they need in preparation for the final life.

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I found this book both interesting and informative, on the subject of assisted dying. I could really sympathize with Diana, when she was continously being forced off by doctors, but never seeming to to get better.
A very emotional book, and very well written.

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The author tackles a very timely and personal subject in choosing to end her life. I respect her journey and her ultimate decision. It was a thoughtful review life and struggles. I will be thinking about this book for a long time.

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In this memoir, the author explores her experience having a long-term chronic illness and the journey that eventually leads her to decide on choosing to die with assistance at Dignitas, a Swiss organization that performs medical aid in dying. Ms. Williams' experience in the medical system seeing multiple medical providers and unscrupulous charlatans while undergoing numerous medical procedures at their behest did get a little repetitive at times but then again-- imagine how much more frustrating it must have felt to experience that as opposed to simply reading about it. I enjoyed the descriptions of life outside of the illness as well. The discussion of medical aid in dying/assisted suicide is one that is near and dear to my heart, as a family member is currently considering it as an option, so I was eager to read another person's experience with the same organization. I understand where Ms. Williams was coming from and I wish her peace in her death. I'd recommend this book for anyone curious about assisted suicide or who doesn't understand why one might want to seek it.

Thank you to Netgalley for the ARC.

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The title is misleading, but also apt. When I first requested this book, I initially thought it was about loving solo travel and how to do it safely. Upon actually reading the book's description, I felt misled, however, as I devoured this book, I found that Diana Williams is truly traveling alone. Her pain, her anguish, and her medical maladies put her on an island. Her family can't understand, doctors can't narrow it down, and her friends just can't relate, causing Diana to feel adrift as her world gets smaller and darker.

Diana Williams is a testament to why people should continue to be the shepherds of their own ship, rather than society dictating the life path they should follow. Amid the continuing controversial debate about life, i.e. abortion and assisted medical suicide, Diana demonstrates that no matter how bad things can get, it can get worse with no end in sight. As a familiar saying goes, "I'm here for a good time, not a long time", and Diana tried her best to have a good time for as long as she could, but in the end, life became an endless rollercoaster of false starts that she just didn't want to continue on with; it is hard to have unrelenting hope in the face of uncertainty when it comes to your health and ability to take a step each day. You should be free to release yourself from the cycle, rather than continue on.

When I first finished the book, I was a bit annoyed with Diana, to be honest. She began to get on my nerves as the chapters got closer and closer to the end. I'm not sure why I felt annoyed with her, or why I continued to ask, "how can she afford to live in this expensive city, in this big house when a few years ago she was so worried about finances??" I took a few days to think it over and see if I was still annoyed with her or if it was just my mood at the time, and found it was my mood and the sudden circumstances I was in. Upon reflection, maybe my mood was reflective of Diana as she began to get more and more aggravated with the medical professionals and get-healthy-quickly schemes that seem to abound and bombard those desperate for a respite from their pain. I am not sure, but I am curious to learn how others felt about Diana at the end.

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This book will leave you feeling lots of emotions. As you travel the life of Diana Williams you will respect her desire to end her life with assistance. She wanted only the best for her family and her health was declining. A must read for anyone experiencing diseases in their family.

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