Dream New Dreams: Reimagining My Life After Loss

Dream New Dreams: Reimagining My Life After Loss

by Jai Pausch


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Now in paperback, a remarkably frank, deeply moving, and inspiring memoir by Jai Pausch, whose husband, Randy, wrote the bestseller The Last Lecture while battling pancreatic cancer.

"Jai is such a giver that she often forgets to take care of herself," Randy Pausch wrote about his wife. "Jai knows that she'll have to give herself permission to make herself a priority."
     In Dream New Dreams, Jai Pausch shares her own story for the first time: her emotional journey from wife and mother to full-time caregiver; and then to widow and single parent, fighting to preserve a sense of stability for her family while coping with her own grief, and running a household without a partner. Jai paints a vivid, honest portrait of a vital, challenging relationship between two strong people who faced a grim prognosis and the self-sacrificing decisions it often required. As she faced life without the husband she called her "magic man," Jai learned to make herself a priority to create a new life of hope and happiness—as she puts it, to "feel a spark of my own magic beginning to flicker."
     Dream New Dreams is a powerful story of grief, healing, and newfound independence. With advice artfully woven into an intimate, beautifully written narrative, Jai's story inspires the readers who made The Last Lecture a bestseller, as well as those embarking on a journey of loss and renewal themselves.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780307888518
Publisher: Crown Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/14/2013
Pages: 240
Sales rank: 1,119,600
Product dimensions: 5.10(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.70(d)

About the Author

JAI PAUSCH became an impassioned advocate for pancreatic cancer research and caregivers following the death of her husband. Previously, she was director of electronic publications at the Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science. She is now a member of the National Board of Directors of The Pancreatic Cancer Action Network and the National Comprehensive Cancer Network Foundation.

Table of Contents

Foreword ix

1 Living the Dream 1

2 Shattered Dreams 12

3 Face the Problem 25

4 Shuttling Between My Husband and My Children 38

5 Help! I'm in Over My Head 58

6 The Toll of Caregiving 67

7 Cancer Blindsides Us Again 76

8 The Magic of the Last Lecture 85

9 Unique Challenges Caregivers Face 100

10 Decisions 122

11 Talking to Children About Cancer and Death 130

12 Grieving 140

13 The Year of Firsts 150

14 Untethering Our House from the Past 161

15 Single Parenting: My New Frontier 170

16 Taking Care of Me 180

17 Magic: Lost and Found 190

18 To Date or Not to Date 199

19 Giving Back: Pancreatic Cancer Advocate 208

20 Dreaming New Dreams 217

Resources 226

Acknowledgments 227

Reading Group Guide

1. Which aspects of Jai’s story resonated with you the most? How did her observations compare to your own experiences with loss and grief?

2. With gratitude, Jai describes the support network of family and friends who helped her manage her family’s many day-to-day needs. What does her story tell us about the importance of community, and the humbling process of asking for help? Who are the strongest members of your support system?

3. One of the Pausches’ most difficult crossroads arose when Randy opted for treatment at Houston’s MD Anderson Cancer Center. This meant Jai had to become a long-distance mother, leaving her two sons and infant daughter in the care of others. (Were her struggles amplified by the fact that she is a woman?) Meredith: this was more about making a difficult choice between two compelling and competing sets of needs, and less because she was a woman. Can we recast?) Is there a difference between the way women and men experience the obligations of caregiving?

4. What does Jai’s story reveal about grief through the eyes of children? How did Dylan, Logan, and Chloe experience their father’s love and loss in unique, individual ways?

5. Jai describes her marriage as one that encouraged open lines of communication. How did she and Randy handle anger? What solutions did they come up with to resolve the loss of control they both felt after his diagnosis?

6. Randy was diagnosed with cancer j just three months after Jai gave birth to Chloe. What special struggles did this present for Jai, nurturing a new life while facing her husband’s mortality?

7. Jai mentions the fact that some might see Randy as too controlling in his approach to finances, his medical treatment, and her life as a widow. Yet she sees his detailed spreadsheets and instructions as signs of how worried he was about her well-being. What is the difference between concern and control? How did the Pausches adapt to the power struggles all married couples experience?

8. What was Dr. Reiss’s role in helping Jai find strength and clarity? Which people in your life have sustained you emotionally during difficult circumstances?

9. In the aftermath of Randy’s death, Jai experiences a range of sorrows and fears, but she also admits to finding new freedoms. How did she regain some of the magic   in her life? How was her healing enhanced when she became part of a network of caregivers and cancer-research advocates?

10. As Jai debates whether to date again (Dylan lobbies hard for a new dad) she struggles with the process. What do these scenes say about the experience of solitude versus partnership?  

11. Many of Jai's dreams for her family were never fulfilled, yet she has embraced  the future, traveling to Europe with her best friend, Tina and finding new love.  Discussing the book’s title, explore your own lifelong dreams and any new ones that replaced them.

12. Dream New Dreams inspires us to find hope, regardless of the challenges we face. What did Jai discover about moving forward after loss? What does she teach us about reimagining the future while cherishing the past?

13. Jai talks about the extra demands caregiving placed on her life and how her support network stepped up to help her and her family. What ways have you seen people in your life support a caregiver? What acts were well received and appreciated? Sometimes the best of intentions cause unintended harm. Have you witnessed or experienced situations were someone was trying to help, but ended up doing more harm than good hurt? 

14. Randy lived 23-months with pancreatic cancer—-much longer than the majority of people with the disease.  As medical science finds ways to slow cancer's growth and patients battle diseases for longer periods of time, what are the implications for the loved ones who care for them and for our society in general?

15. Jai describes the process she went through to reinvent herself after becoming a widow with three small children. When have you had to make major life or career changes?  How did you decide which new direction to take with your life?

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