Study Guide

The Truth About Forever Death

By Sarah Dessen


I'd long ago learned not to be picky in farewells. They weren't guaranteed or promised. (1.35)

Macy compares saying goodbye to Jason at the airport (and not getting a decent kiss) to not being able to say goodbye to her father. Is dating Jason prolonging the pain for her? Reminding her of her dad somehow?

When my dad died, we all reacted in different ways. (1.58)

Some healthy, some not so healthy, it seems. But is there a right or wrong way to react to death? If Macy had reacted differently, would she really be okay by now? Could she have reacted differently?

I knew she blamed herself for his death, thought that maybe it was the added stress of Wildflower Ridge that taxed my dad's heart, and if she hadn't pushed him to expand so much everything would have been different. This was our common ground, the secret we shared but never spoke aloud. I should have been with him; she should have left him alone. Should, could, woulda. It's so easy in the past tense. (2.20)

Macy and her mom both feel guilty about Macy's dad's death. Is it possible that the reason they're not trying to cope is to punish themselves?

I'd never really allowed myself to mourn, just jumped from shocked to fine-just-fine, skipping everything in between. (3.52)

Didn't Macy's mom think that was weird? That she never showed any sadness at all? Well, in case you hadn't notice, Macy's mom isn't coping too well herself.

More than our old house, or our Wildflower Ridge place, the beach shack was my dad. I knew if he was haunting any place, it would be there, and for that reason I'd stayed away. (3.85)

We're pretty sure Macy's not talking about ghosts here. (We mean, come on, her dad would totally be a Casper-type ghost if anything.) Instead, she's probably just trying to avoid the memories that come along with the beach house.

"You know what happens when someone dies? […] It's like, everything and everyone refracts, each person having a different reaction." (5.107)

Delia's trying to commiserate with Macy, but in Delia's family, the reactions to death were much more positive. Why do you think that was? What was different about their family?

Maybe that's what you got when you stood over our grief, facing it finally. A sense of its depths, its area, the distance across, and the way over or around it, whichever you chose in the end. (5.118)

Grief doesn't just go away. It will always be there, but you can work around it, like Delia does. Is that more fruitful than blocking it off completely, like Macy and her mom do? Is one way better than the other?

"Mom," she said final, "I'm not trying to upset you. I'm just saying that it's been a year and a half…and maybe it's time to move on. Dad would have wanted you to be happier than this. I know it." (6.91)

Another advice moment from Caroline. But is there really a time limit on mourning? What does Caroline mean by "move on," anyway?

"[T]he truth is, nothing is guaranteed. […] So don't be afraid. Be alive." (7.211)

Kristy's philosophy is majorly inspires Macy—and us. How does Macy embrace this nugget by the end of the book?

"I'm tired of acting like nothing ever happened, of pretending he was never here, of not seeing his pictures in the house, or his things. Just because you're not able to let yourself grieve." (18.66)

Let's talk about Caroline. Is she the most mature of the Queen ladies? Or does she just have a different grieving process? What is it about her character or her situation that allows her to let herself grieve?