In Loving Memory
- English singer-songwriter and ‘The Beatles’ legend Paul McCartney, 78, has switched gears in the most inspiring way; publishing a cookbook with his daughters in honor of his wife Linda McCartney who lost her battle with breast cancer over 20 years ago.
- McCartney confessed that he had cried for a year over his wife’s death. The late activist and trailblazing photographer’s cancer had metastasized to her liver after treatment had initially seemed to work well.
- A leading expert tells SurvivorNet what grief can be like for many patients and their loved ones after a cancer diagnosis.
Linda McCartney’s Family Kitchen: Over 90 Plant-Based Recipes to Save the Planet and Nourish the Soul is out June 29, and will include more than 90 recipes, along with some other McCartney family faves like pulled jackfruit burgers, pad Thai and pecan cookies. This will not be the late animal activist’s first foray into the publishing world, as she authored her own cookbooks in the ’90s such as Linda McCartney on Tour: Over 200 Meat-Free Dishes from Around the World.Read More
“Years ago, before anyone had woken up to the idea of environmental and health and animal welfare issues, Linda was blazing the trail with vegetarianism, telling people about it and promoting it,” the Liverpool-born rocker wrote in an Instagram post with two of his girls, designer Stella, 49, and photographer Mary, 51. “In the book there are family photographs and stories from those days, and of course lots of great, beautiful tasting healthy recipes.”
Paul and Linda also share a son, musician James, 43, and have another daughter, artist Heather McCartney, 58, from Linda’s previous marriage who Paul adopted. The icon had a fifth child with ex-wife Heather Mills, daughter Beatrice, 17.
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McCartney is currently married to Nancy Shevell, a 61-year-old American businesswoman.
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Paul and Linda’s Story
Linda McCartney died from breast cancer on April 17, 1998 at 56 years old. She and Paul got married in March 1969 in London. They worked together musically, and released the album Ram together in 1971, forming the band Wings later that year. They were nominated for an Oscar for their song Live And Let Die, the 1973 Bond film theme song.
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“Both my mum and Linda died of breast cancer. We had no idea what my mum had died of because no-one talked about it. She just died,” McCartney said in a BBC interview. “The worse thing about that was everyone was very stoic, everyone kept a stiff upper lip and then one evening you’d hear my dad crying in the next room. It was tragic because we’d never heard him cry. It was a quiet private kind of grief.”
The artist, who has amassed 22 number one hits over the span of his career, said he cried for about a year, on and off. “You expect to see them walk in, this person you love, because you are so used to them,” he said. “I cried a lot. It was almost embarrassing except it seemed the only thing to do.”
McCartney recalls memories of his New York-born late wife as a “trailblazing photographer” who had a deep love for Scotland’s outdoor beauty. Linda was also the first woman to have a rock photography credit on the cover of Rolling Stone with her 1968 portrait of Eric Clapton for the magazine; she snapped the Manhattan music scene of the 1960s.
Linda’s Breast Cancer Battle
Linda was diagnosed with breast cancer in 1995, but it had metastasized, or spread.
She had treatment after first getting diagnosed and it had appeared to have gone well, according to a family spokesperson at the time of her death via Variety magazine. ”But unfortunately in March it was found that it had gone to her liver.”
Two days prior to her death, Linda was out in nature riding horses with her love in Santa Barbara, a picture-perfect image to hold on to for her family.
”The blessing was that the end came quickly and she didn’t suffer,” the spokesperson said. Paul McCartney asked that instead of flowers, people could honor Linda with a donation to cancer research or animal welfare charities — or simply ”go veggie.” Linda McCartney even had her own line of vegetarian foods.
Dealing with Grief
A cancer diagnosis is an overwhelming life event for the patient and their loved ones; life seems to come to a screeching halt.
“Grief comes in waves. It often gets better over time, but at certain days, it can look like depression,” Dr. Scott Irwin from Cedars-Sinai Medical Center tells SurvivorNet. “And other days, people look perfectly normal and can function. They’re grieving the change in their life, the future they had imagined is now different.”
Dr. Irwin speaks of the benefit of cancer support groups. “Talk therapy really is the way to deal with these emotions,” he says. “It’s about meeting the individual patient where they are and their feelings, how they’ve always dealt with their body image, what the body image changes mean now in their lives and their relationships, and how they can move forward given the new reality.”
Keeping a Loved One’s Memory Alive
Losing a parent is extremely shattering, but it is important to look for a way to keep their spirit alive. Not everyone has the means to publish a cookbook like the McCartney family, but there are other ways to honor someone’s legacy in your own meaningful way. Looking at old photographs, or reminiscing over some of your favorite memories can be just as powerful, and sometimes feelings of loss can inspire other forms of creativity.
Camila Legaspi, 23, struggled with finding her identity after the loss of her mother as a teenager. “When I was in high school, I was totally the girl whose mom had died,” she shared with SurvivorNet. Legaspi was able to start over again after graduating from high school and starting college. “Instead of being defined by my mom’s death, I actually took this sadness and let it motivate me. I learned that it’s okay to be sad sometimes. It’s okay to carry sadness with you, it’s not always a bad thing. It makes you who you are and it gives you a story to tell, and it helps you teach other people to cope with their sadness.”
She regained her sense of self in the spirit of her mother. “My mom was a very creative person, so I was actually able to take this very creative part of her and use that to define me instead of her death,” she said. “My outlet for it became writing, and writing for my school magazine, and publishing creative works on what had happened to me. I’ve learned to have it impact me in a positive way and not just be a sad story … ”