The Longest Goodbye: A Family’s Hope-Filled Journey Through Alzheimer’s

by Shelly Calcagno

Genres: Christian Living

ISBN: 9781649602039

116 pages

Price: $15.99

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Are we ever ready to say goodbye?

She looked out into the yard sprinkled with spring dandelions. “Yellow flowers,” she said, searching for her words. We knew something wasn’t right. That’s when things began to fall apart for our family, when our longest goodbye journey began—the defining before-and-after moment. And now, looking back, it’s been almost a decade of slow loss and drawn-out grief as we slowly let go of our beautiful mom. In the middle of it all, though, we have learned to look for hope and chase down joy, discovering that, in spite of our pain, there are always gifts to be found, even on the hardest of days.

Alzheimer’s disease affects almost fifty million people worldwide. It touches people across every walk of life. So, how do millions of people figure out how to love as they let go? The Longest Goodbye is a collection of stories and moments not just about the clinical side of memory loss–but the emotional heart journey. It is a story that shows how joy and grief are often intertwined and wrapped up together in the glorious mess of life.

The Longest Goodbye encourages readers to remember the ones they love while they are still here and to intentionally celebrate and live through the pain and hard days. It’s filled with tears, hope, and bitter-sweet moments all held together by the beautiful love of a mother and daughter holding onto a life filled with memories, while learning to let go and say goodbye.


“Losing a parent is one of life’s most difficult moments and, in some cases, a difficult season. Shelly’s heartwarming, poignant, personal account of her decade-long journey of saying goodbye to her mom who suffered from memory loss will be a source of comfort and hope to anyone going through a similar experience.”
Carey Nieuwhof
Bestselling Author, Speaker, and Host of the Carey Nieuwhof Leadership Podcast

“In The Longest Goodbye, Shelly gives us hope and help to navigate when a loved one faces memory loss. Shelly shares her decade-long journey watching her mother decline with Alzheimer’s disease. Through heartfelt stories and reflections, she gives her readers a glimpse into the pain of seeing a loved one slowly fade away while at the same time looking for hope-filled moments along the way. Shelly expresses how joy and pain can co-exist and where to look when everything feels lost. And most of all, her experience shows how the bonds of family and unconditional love carried her through. This book isn’t about the clinical part of the disease; it’s about the heart and how to hold on through all the seasons of memory loss.”
Kevin Scott
Author, Leadership Expert, and Co-founder of ADDO

“It’s much easier to write fiction than to share a hard, human story of love and loss for others to read. Shelly has brilliantly authored pages that share the hard and the good of loving someone fiercely, while losing them slowly to Alzheimer’s. Shelly is both honest and honoring with her words as she draws the reader into the journey of the one thing she feared most—her mother’s diagnosis and slow decline due to Alzheimer’s. Shelly’s words paint a stunning picture of a brave and tender response to human suffering. Be moved in the reading of this beautiful remembrance.”
Cathie Ostapchuk
Author of Brave Women, Bold Moves
Co-Founder and Lead Catalyst for Gather Women
Host of The Strong Way Podcast

“In The Longest Goodbye, Shelly invites her readers into the journey of her mother’s battle with Alzheimer’s disease. From the strong bonds of their special mother and daughter friendship to becoming a stranger to the mother who cannot remember, Shelly writes with the honesty and insight of a daughter processing the frozen grief of Alzheimer’s and the long thawing of emotion, awaiting death’s second chill. If you or someone you know is dealing with the pain of losing someone before they are gone, this book is a companion on your journey. Written as a friend who understands and with the wisdom of a faith holding on to hope, this book is for you.”
Matt Tapley
Lead Pastor, Lakemount Worship Centre

“Shelly leads her readers through the stages of saying goodbye to someone who is still physically present as they live with dementia. Woven throughout the book are firsthand stories of how her family wrestled through the realization that life was going to look different and how God met them in the joy and in the pain. Shelly beautifully describes her deep assurance she is still known, seen, and loved by her mom. What a gift this journey will be to so many others as they navigate Alzheimer’s disease with their loved ones. Shelly’s words will be comforting, relatable, and hope-giving to others walking this same road.”
Melissa McEachern
Chief Operating and Content Officer at Crossroads Christian Communications


Shelly Calcagno lives in the beautiful country of Canada. She studied English Literature at Brock University and Religious Education at Master's College and Seminary. She followed that with 20 years of pastoral church ministry to children and families. Shelly loves to write, speak, blog and has self-published a children's book, Tini's Tangles. In 2020 she started a pandemic-launched podcast called, A Space for Grace.

Shelly has written and produced several animated series for children, as well as family and children’s curriculum. Shelly co-hosted from 2013-2016 on 100 Huntley Street – Canada’s longest running daytime talk show where she produced lifestyle and faith segments. Shelly loves being creative and taking on DIY projects, especially if they involve mason jars and chalkboard paint! She is passionate about legacy and bringing ideas to life. Shelly is married and has two awesome young adult children.