Life Support

Invitation to Prayer

By (author) Judith Cohen Margolis

Hardback - £17.95

Publication date:

30 May 2019

Length of book:

96 pages


Penn State University Press

ISBN-13: 9780271083735

In this meditative, heartbreaking, and unexpectedly comforting book, artist and essayist Judith Margolis tells the story of her mother’s illness, decline, and death through thoughtfully written vignettes, poignant drawings, and poetic, prayerful affirmations.

As her mother fights a series of health crises and faces the end of her life, Margolis documents her anxious concern and her father’s turmoil while juggling responsibilities and her own distress. The resulting narrative, told with quiet intensity and candor, bears witness to contentious deliberations over medical decisions, the difficulties of patient care, and the complicated dynamics of family. In this book, designed to imitate a traditional Jewish prayer book, Margolis reminds herself and others caring for a dying parent to “pray”—pray for clarity, pray to stay centered, pray to forgive oneself—as a way of acknowledging and embodying the turbulent emotions involved. Both the form of the book and Margolis’s rendering of the traditions involved in a family death ground Life Support firmly in the Jewish experience, providing a spiritual layer to this honest, realistic narrative that all readers will find inspiring and relevant.

Life Support: Invitation to Prayer is a unique testimony to the power of creative response to infirmity and careful documentation during times of personal loss, as well as a loving tribute to family, spirituality, and grief.

Life Support exemplifies the genre of graphic medicine. Spare and raw, we are thrust into the physicality of health and illness, bodies and fluids, as well as emotions deep and intense. She offers us feelings, ugly and unrepentant at times, with moments of grace at others, and in the process of the work, reveals a healing balm, years in the making.”

—Joel L. Kushner, Director, Kalsman Institute on Judaism and Health