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Into The Silence:
The Power of Stillness in
Living and Dying

Author: Judith M. Ashley
Biography & Autobiography / General
Publication date: August, 2007

First Edition copies:
$16.95 Paperback
ISBN: 978-0-595-44085-6
First Edition copies:
$26.95 Hardcover
ISBN: 978-0-595-68900-2


    I was by her hospital bed when the surgeon gave his prognosis of ‘about a year.’ Mother turned to me. Looking directly into my eyes she reached gently for my hand, and said with such simplicity, "Judith, I’m going to need your help."

    So begins the remarkable journey of two women.

    Judith Ashley had long ago emigrated from England to the United States. Her mother, Enid, still lived in Great Britain and was now dying of cancer of the bowel and liver. Separated by distance for virtually thirty years, Judith traveled back to England to fulfill a promise made two decades earlier—to be the primary caregiver throughout her mother’s last weeks of life. In more than fifty letters written to her husband living six thousand miles away, Ashley recounts—with love and unflinching candor—the conscious way in which her mother approached the last year of her life with dignity, intimacy, and grace.

    The letters also show how Ashley navigated her way through her own chattering thoughts and roller-coaster emotions to help her have access to an inner source of strength and keep her promise. A moving testament to the strong bond between mother and daughter, Into the Silence beautifully captures one family’s enduring spirit.


Into The Silence:
The Power of Stillness in Living and Dying
Judith M. Ashley

This is one woman’s story of looking after her 80-year old mother who was dying with metastatic bowel cancer. Her observations and feelings were recorded in a series of letters to her husband who was across the Atlantic. Her observations are astute and her assessments insightful. For someone trained in human resources rather than palliative care, I was impressed by her sense of being there for her mother—seeing everything from the patient’s perspective. For anyone who works in palliative care, this book provides a very good description of the physical and psychological demands of caring for a dying relative. And for anyone faced with that task, it will provide much support.

— Roger Woodruff, Director of Palliative Care, Austin Health Melbourne, Australia. Past Chairman, International Association for Hospice and Palliative Care (September 2007)

Into the Silence honors the life, dignity, and grace of the author's dying mother and, concurrently, inspires our soul to freely manifest our love, compassion, and acceptance of others as they are.

Into the Silence, building on an exquisite contrast between the insightful and the mundane, distills the wisdom of a family of “enlightened gypsies” to quote the term Judith’s son, Sándor, selects to portray her family. With a flowing style, Judith offers a testimony to her quest to achieve higher consciousness in the present moment, and her capacity to just be there in support of her mother finding closure with life.

Judith, through her letters to her husband, HB, speaks directly to us about mindfulness, her philosophy of life, and her challenge to surrender to what is.

— Dr. Francois W. Sauer, CEO of Trans Am Group, promoting economic development between Canada, US and Mexico. (October, 2007)

“Many of us are finding ourselves, or may yet find ourselves, taking care of an aging parent in the final stage of their lives. The experience can be many things, some of them beautiful, others less so. But what is it, in the final analysis, that makes it all worthwhile and filled with as much joy and love as possible? Into The Silence, a fascinating book by Judith M. Ashley, helped me understand the answer to such questions yet more deeply. In caring for her dying mother, Judith Ashley learned something essential and profound about giving compassionate care.”

John Robbins, author Healthy At 100; and Diet For A New America. (November, 2007)

“Into the Silence” will be a life-altering book for all who read it. It is a beautiful story about the love
between a mother and a daughter, and about dealing with death. It also taught me how to deal with
life. As I was reading, I asked myself about how I want to be remembered and what kind of legacy I
want to leave behind. I learned that you can go through tremendous suffering and still maintain your
dignity and humanity. It also makes you really evaluate what is important in your life. I learned that
I need to simplify my life. At the end, I think that most of us will realize that so much of what we
once deemed important was trivial. As Ashley states, “…I contemplated on what creates a full life,
and I think it is the stillness in which we can dwell in every moment, even while attending to the
necessary structure of everyday life.”

Excerpt from review by Paige Lovitt for Reader Views (12/07)