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A Kiss Before You Go: An Illustrated Memoir of Love and Loss

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After the loss of his wife in a tragic accident, beloved artist Danny Gregory chronicled his grief in the medium he knows best—the pages of his illustrated journals. This intimate volume reproduces these journal pages in a stirring visual memoir of Gregory's journey towards recovery. Uniquely sincere, and by turns tender, raw, and hopeful, Gregory's idiosyncratic text and After the loss of his wife in a tragic accident, beloved artist Danny Gregory chronicled his grief in the medium he knows best—the pages of his illustrated journals. This intimate volume reproduces these journal pages in a stirring visual memoir of Gregory's journey towards recovery. Uniquely sincere, and by turns tender, raw, and hopeful, Gregory's idiosyncratic text and illustrations capture the darkest and lightest moments of his "year of magical drawing." Gregory's process reminds us that creative expression offers its own therapy, and that living each day to its fullest may be as simple as putting pen to paper. Anyone who has experienced loss will take solace in this refreshingly candid look at grieving, while art lovers will marvel at the artist's beautiful celebration of the power of creation.


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After the loss of his wife in a tragic accident, beloved artist Danny Gregory chronicled his grief in the medium he knows best—the pages of his illustrated journals. This intimate volume reproduces these journal pages in a stirring visual memoir of Gregory's journey towards recovery. Uniquely sincere, and by turns tender, raw, and hopeful, Gregory's idiosyncratic text and After the loss of his wife in a tragic accident, beloved artist Danny Gregory chronicled his grief in the medium he knows best—the pages of his illustrated journals. This intimate volume reproduces these journal pages in a stirring visual memoir of Gregory's journey towards recovery. Uniquely sincere, and by turns tender, raw, and hopeful, Gregory's idiosyncratic text and illustrations capture the darkest and lightest moments of his "year of magical drawing." Gregory's process reminds us that creative expression offers its own therapy, and that living each day to its fullest may be as simple as putting pen to paper. Anyone who has experienced loss will take solace in this refreshingly candid look at grieving, while art lovers will marvel at the artist's beautiful celebration of the power of creation.

30 review for A Kiss Before You Go: An Illustrated Memoir of Love and Loss

  1. 5 out of 5

    Kateri Ewing

    I have met Danny Gregory three times now. Well, not physically met him, but encountered him through his art and words. He's that kind of writer though; I feel like I've known him as a friend all of my life. The first time we met it was inside of his illustrated memoir, Everyday Matters, where he chronicled his life, in words and drawings, when his wife survived a tragic accident, but was left a paraplegic. He shared his wisdom of how drawing his days saved him. The second time we met was in his b I have met Danny Gregory three times now. Well, not physically met him, but encountered him through his art and words. He's that kind of writer though; I feel like I've known him as a friend all of my life. The first time we met it was inside of his illustrated memoir, Everyday Matters, where he chronicled his life, in words and drawings, when his wife survived a tragic accident, but was left a paraplegic. He shared his wisdom of how drawing his days saved him. The second time we met was in his book, Creative License, a fascinating exploration of how we can all bring more creativity to our daily lives, as well as a pretty darn amazing tutorial on how to draw. I still keep this book nearby every day, and dip into it during long soaks in the tub at least once a week. It is a trusted and inspiring friend. Our third encounter was when I discovered An Illustrated Life, his anthology of the intimate pages from artists' journals. This book holds fathoms of inspiration and knowledge about keeping track of our days through art and words and I highly recommend it to anyone seeking to make daily journaling a lifelong habit, or who appreciates the art that artists make that may never be meant for the public eye. I've connected to Danny in other ways. I keep up with his Web site and his Facebook page, his photos on Instagram and also on Goodreads. I've witnessed him go through the painful loss of his wife, Patti; raising his son, Jack and seeing him off to college. I've rejoiced as he began to send his rays of light back out into the world after what seemed like a long silence. He shares his life in such an unflinchingly honest way, and is a deep well of comfort and hope in a world that can deal out tragedy when we least expect it. He is one of those souls that makes my life richer, even though we have only ever met on the page, and on the screen. When I discovered that Danny had a new book coming out, I was over the top excited. When I found out what he had chosen to write about, it placed an ache in my heart and also encouraged it to soar, all at once. His new book, A Kiss Before You Go, is an illustrated memoir of the unbearably painful loss of his wife, the love of his life, and how he faced it, and slowly came back to himself, by drawing what was right in front him and real, and writing down the words that were still coming from a place of darkness and grief. As a woman who has fought through deep losses of her own, I found his words so very, very true. This is one of the most beautiful books I have ever, ever read. And the drawings...vibrant, melancholy, intense, beautiful, dark & light-filled, and very much alive. (One of life's mysteries: how can something like this book, that is so full of goodness, truth and beauty, so full that when you open it and swim in its pages you could travel fathoms and fathoms and miles and miles across every ocean and sky, only cost $11.87? Find this book. You will treasure it.)

  2. 5 out of 5

    David Schaafsma

    I thought this was good, though not among the best graphic memoirs detailing grief and recovery that I have read. Does this sounds callous? I don't mean it to be so. I think I might have felt differently had I had a long experience getting to know Gregory and his wife, as others seem to have had. In his first illustrated memoir, Everyday Matters, he chronicles his relationship with her, and then focuses on how she survived falling off a train platform, getting run over by no less than three cars I thought this was good, though not among the best graphic memoirs detailing grief and recovery that I have read. Does this sounds callous? I don't mean it to be so. I think I might have felt differently had I had a long experience getting to know Gregory and his wife, as others seem to have had. In his first illustrated memoir, Everyday Matters, he chronicles his relationship with her, and then focuses on how she survived falling off a train platform, getting run over by no less than three cars, and left paraplegic. And she had just recently given birth to their child! So, there's plenty of opportunity for pathos, for the reader. And for Gregory, an opportunity to use his art to help him heal from the trauma and to honor their story. And the art is good, colorful, pen and watercolor splashes around his handwritten text. There's so much text that I have to call this an illustrated adult picture book rather than a graphic novel. Though even with picture books I prefer to have far fewer words. Especially if an artist is the teller. Let the images speak more! I prefer spareness and more open, reflective space. That inexpressible grief thing. Gregory's pages are crammed full with expression, too crammed. In this one, A Kiss Before You Go (a heart-string-pulling title, and didn't literally occur) yet ANOTHER horrific accident ends Gregory's wife's life. The book moves from horror to hope, as we expect it to and want it to, of course. It's about his healing through art. Yet I want more complication, more complexity. This is a pretty straightforward grief story. Overall, because of the splashy color I thought it was pretty good, though not great, not as deeply affecting as others I have read, or as others have experienced it. Partly it's all that text that seemed rather familiar. But I feel we as readers never establish a relationship with her, so she feels quite distant from me, really. I mean, as with funerals I have to attend for people you don't know well, I sometimes get sad when grief memoirs call up my own grief, but this story did not really do that very much for me. It did for others, if you skim the reviews and see the high rating.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Joy Murray

    A Kiss Before You Go is one of the most honest and immediate books on the grieving process I've read. There is almost an imperative in society to get over it but this journal instead honors the loss and is honest about the painful process of getting one's balance back. There is uplift, but there is a profound respect for the way grief reshapes us and hones our perspective. The illustrations are stunning. As in his other books, the story is handwritten. Gregory often uses a dip pen and the entries A Kiss Before You Go is one of the most honest and immediate books on the grieving process I've read. There is almost an imperative in society to get over it but this journal instead honors the loss and is honest about the painful process of getting one's balance back. There is uplift, but there is a profound respect for the way grief reshapes us and hones our perspective. The illustrations are stunning. As in his other books, the story is handwritten. Gregory often uses a dip pen and the entries are published as they are written. The written words are art. There is a haunting page where he is writing in white ink on a blue background about the day of Patti's death. The nib of the pen seems to have split halfway through the entry, or is he retracing every word. The letters and words seem to be falling apart, or like they have ghosts. The entry ends with "Nothing seems real." He paints an interpretation of Hokusai's classic the Great Wave with a hand form reaching out of the water in the undertow. It's a powerful rendering of the way grief comes in waves and "flattens" you. The drawings of his son and their dogs crackle with love and energy. But this book doesn't flatten you. The honesty of it is refreshing and the beauty of life is evident on every page. The book itself is well bound and opens flat so you can enjoy the two page spreads. I always look at books without their jackets because I like to see how they are bound and I'm always hoping for a surprise. This one has a lovely watercolor blue cover and a white ink drawing of kissing figurines. And the back of the paper cover has a collage of pictures of Patti. It underscores how she lived fully and celebrated each day. Do your eyes and your heart a favor, and read this book. If you'd like to see a more detailed review, please visit joycorcoran.com

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mara De Guzman

    ***5 Heartbreaking Lovely Inspiring Stars!!!*** My best friend bought this for me as a gift during his vacation in California. Out of nowhere, he went and asked me if I have read this book. I initially thought he was the one reading this and wanted to ask my opinion about it, and I said no but I searched it on Goodreads and read good reviews about it. He said "well okay then, I'm buying this for you." Just like that. So when he gave this to me last week when we met up for coffee, I told him, "dude ***5 Heartbreaking Lovely Inspiring Stars!!!*** My best friend bought this for me as a gift during his vacation in California. Out of nowhere, he went and asked me if I have read this book. I initially thought he was the one reading this and wanted to ask my opinion about it, and I said no but I searched it on Goodreads and read good reviews about it. He said "well okay then, I'm buying this for you." Just like that. So when he gave this to me last week when we met up for coffee, I told him, "dude, I read this is a memoir and it made readers cry. You know how much of a crier I am when reading books." And of course him being a guy just told me that it would be cool. Okay. When I got home, I decided to brave reading it because: 1. The cover was cute. 2. The title was beautiful. 3. The pages were colorful and so artsy. 4. I just felt like reading something short and take a break from all my alpha males just for a few minutes. Even though I sort of prepared and told myself that this is going to be an emotional one, it was not enough. At page 23, I was crying my heart out. "I am taken aback to see her here, just hours after I'd kissed her goodbye and gone to work. It is midmorning and here we are. She has a tube in her mouth, her eyes are closed, her super-still body is draped in a sheet. I hold her hand and look at her. What happened? I ask her. What did you do? What is this? What do we do now? Nothing seems real." I know this is a memoir, therefore a sad and heartbreaking true story of a love found and love lost and it might be awkward to some reading a rather gushing review about such an emotional book but here I am, saying how much I loved it. I don't rejoice what happened to Patti, what I loved about this book is how Danny Gregory wrote it. How he illustrated and expressed his thoughts about loving and losing Patti was very heartfelt and just very real, it was impossible not to be moved by it. It was lovely. It was painful. It was inspiring. "My new life will be bright. Because you light it."

  5. 5 out of 5

    Parka

    (More pictures on my blog) A Kiss Before You Go is a heartfelt memoir by Danny Gregory. The pages are from sketchbooks he kept after losing his wife to an accident in 2010. He shares with with us what it is like to lose someone you love. I read the book with a heavy heart. You can feel his emotions through his handwritten words and the beautiful watercolour sketches. There are his personal thoughts, anxiety and turmoils. It's an intimate look at how his life has changed. The heaviness also comes fr (More pictures on my blog) A Kiss Before You Go is a heartfelt memoir by Danny Gregory. The pages are from sketchbooks he kept after losing his wife to an accident in 2010. He shares with with us what it is like to lose someone you love. I read the book with a heavy heart. You can feel his emotions through his handwritten words and the beautiful watercolour sketches. There are his personal thoughts, anxiety and turmoils. It's an intimate look at how his life has changed. The heaviness also comes from having read his earlier book Everyday Matters that's about life after his wife's subway accident. That was published in 2003. This is a beautiful and moving memoir. It takes tremendous courage to write about loss, especially when you have to relive it.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Natasha

    This is one of the most touching, beautiful books I have ever read. I have read three of Danny Gregory's other books and love his writing and illustration style, but these illustrations are taken to a whole new level. There is a vibrancy, and feeling of raw emotion, and the book took my breath away. I read passages in tears, and marvel at the bravery of Danny to share his journey through grief in such an honest and poignant way. To share moments of his life with the world at large, and to do it This is one of the most touching, beautiful books I have ever read. I have read three of Danny Gregory's other books and love his writing and illustration style, but these illustrations are taken to a whole new level. There is a vibrancy, and feeling of raw emotion, and the book took my breath away. I read passages in tears, and marvel at the bravery of Danny to share his journey through grief in such an honest and poignant way. To share moments of his life with the world at large, and to do it with such honest dignity. This book is a monument to Patti and her life well-lived and real, and to their love, well-lived and real. On another matter entirely, the paper in the book feels beautiful as well. Solid and real. I will be thinking about this book for a long time to come I suspect.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Nancy

    I bought this book to help me in processing my grief after the loss of my husband two years ago. I first ordered it for my Kindle, but quickly revalued that the format did not display well there. So I ordered the book. When I received I sat down and immediately went through it cover to cover - identifying strongly with almost every page. That has been several months ago, but every time I pick it up and open it to a random page, it still speaks to me. Thank-you, Danny Gregory, for sharing. I feel I bought this book to help me in processing my grief after the loss of my husband two years ago. I first ordered it for my Kindle, but quickly revalued that the format did not display well there. So I ordered the book. When I received I sat down and immediately went through it cover to cover - identifying strongly with almost every page. That has been several months ago, but every time I pick it up and open it to a random page, it still speaks to me. Thank-you, Danny Gregory, for sharing. I feel more in touch with my own feelings through your words & art.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Jayne Lamb

    Gregory's visual memoir - describing how he coped with the unexpected death of his wife Patti - shows that a book doesn't have to be a gigantic, Gravity's Rainbow style doorstop to be really touching and tragic. It's a slim book (readable in one sitting), illustrated and handwritten in his distinctive style. Moving, sad and inspiring, sometimes on the same page. Trying to avoid cliche, but you really will want to pay special attention to the people close to you after reading this, and realise th Gregory's visual memoir - describing how he coped with the unexpected death of his wife Patti - shows that a book doesn't have to be a gigantic, Gravity's Rainbow style doorstop to be really touching and tragic. It's a slim book (readable in one sitting), illustrated and handwritten in his distinctive style. Moving, sad and inspiring, sometimes on the same page. Trying to avoid cliche, but you really will want to pay special attention to the people close to you after reading this, and realise that nothing petty is important in the big picture.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth A

    This visual memoir covers the year after the author's wife dies. Danny writes about the highs and lows, the dark and light, the transcendent and the mundane, that is life after the loss of a loved one. The text is accompanied by drawings that are personal and draw you in, and I'd suggest reading this in print form. The colors are rich, the size perfect, and the paper stock wonderful. Such a wonderful legacy for his son.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Karen

    I didn’t even know I was going to read this book today. I ordered it with some Christmas money, knowing it was a book to keep on your shelf as it is an illustrated journal about a man’s grief over the loss of his wife. The package came an hour ago and I opened it just to take a peak, 45 minutes later I have read every word, and cried. I feel like I know he and his son and I have so much hope for them both.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Marian

    This book was read in the period of 90 minutes. I must re-read it to review it better. The art is beautiful, poetic in line and color, full of pain and beauty. His words echo it. It wasn't just touching - it was intimate - without being too invasive. It was a window not a door to his experience. There was something so composed about the book - the art, the language, the arc, the pace - that it maintains boundaries even as it tells of Gregory's boundless sadness.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Camila

    The artwork is loose-lined, vivid and compelling. And aside from that statement, I don't think I can rate this book in any fair way; it feels so sincere that it seems un-composed, un-structured, un-planned. I hope I'm not selling the artist short if I call this a cri di coeur rather than a crafted piece. Reviewing it would be like evaluating the prosody of someone's diary, or the narrative arc of a grieving process. So in short: emotionally sincere and visually lovely.

  13. 5 out of 5

    Thomas

    Danny Gregory has created a format all his own, to tell a story that's just as personal. His art is human and vulnerable, his observations those of a man who is open and sees the world through both his eyes and his heart. This book is a great gift to all of us, and no doubt to his wife Patty, his son Jack, and to himself. Thank you Mr. Gregory.

  14. 4 out of 5

    NZBook Girl

    Heartbreaking in that you know from the beginning that it's written by a man grieving for his wife, but overall it's the life force of the wife that comes through most of all. Beautifully illustrated in watercolours that capture their environment and all the main characters. Makes you want to get out there and live a better life.

  15. 5 out of 5

    Lori

    After the loss of his wife, Patti, artist Danny Gregory used his illustrated journals to chronicle his path through grief. His illustrations are amazing...evoking emotion through the use of colour and font and subject matter. It is a very intimate book, jarring at times but also honest and heartbreaking.

  16. 5 out of 5

    Kathy

    It took me a little while to finish this book because I needed to be in a certain frame of mind to read it. It is, perhaps, the sweetest book that I've ever read. Kind of like an adult "picture" book. It is a celebration of a relationship and the year after its tragic end, how the remaining partner moves through that time to recognize how he's changed and how he will go forward.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Jeanne

    This book is a touching exploration of the grieving process... the messiness of it, the gifts of remembrance... without being depressing or morose. And Danny's paintings add breathing space to the words and add life to his portrayal of his wife. I look forward to reading more of this honest author.

  18. 4 out of 5

    Lswinakur

    Danny Gregory's journals are all lovely, but the text in this one touches the heart. This is a beautiful volume.

  19. 5 out of 5

    Robin

    So good, cried like a baby.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Margaret

    A Powerful, honest and gentle record of grief.

  21. 4 out of 5

    Leslie

    Such a beautiful book (words and art) about loss and grief. It portrays a real example of how people deal when faced with something so heavy and life-altering. Love this book.

  22. 4 out of 5

    Sandra

    Read for book club. Beautiful, sad, but somehow uplifting.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Alexis

    Read for book club. I bought a copy, if anyone else in the book club wants to borrow it.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Jamie

    What an intensely illustrated and honestly written memoir of the year following the death of his wife. It's amazing how we find ways to go on in spite of shockingly unexpected losses.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Moni Smith

    Oh my goodness. That just broke my heart into a million pieces. What a beautiful homage to his soul mate.

  26. 5 out of 5

    Andy Renals

    This is a deeply moving book. It is painful, personal and profound. I encountered Danny Gregory’s work during the initial stages of the UK CoVid19 lock down in April 2020. I found myself watching a YouTube video that was a recording of a live stream that Danny had made a few days earlier. Danny has a style, a style that takes a pause as he reflects on this thoughts, this book then is a mirror of his thinking and feeling at the time he was grieving deeply for the loss of his soul mate Patti. Dann This is a deeply moving book. It is painful, personal and profound. I encountered Danny Gregory’s work during the initial stages of the UK CoVid19 lock down in April 2020. I found myself watching a YouTube video that was a recording of a live stream that Danny had made a few days earlier. Danny has a style, a style that takes a pause as he reflects on this thoughts, this book then is a mirror of his thinking and feeling at the time he was grieving deeply for the loss of his soul mate Patti. Danny expresses himself through his sketching as well as through his words. Have a look, have a read. Pick up a pen or a pencil, express yourself. It is cathartic.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Christie

    So sweet. This is one of those books that reminds me why I read. Gregory’s love and loss is laid bare on the page and it’s beautiful. While I am sure that writing and illustrating this book helped him with his grief, i feel like having read it I was right there for him as well. After reading some great graphic novel and memoirs in the past couple of years, I’m trying to be open to reading more. I’ve gotten a few from the library that I could tell right away were not for me, but I’m happy with th So sweet. This is one of those books that reminds me why I read. Gregory’s love and loss is laid bare on the page and it’s beautiful. While I am sure that writing and illustrating this book helped him with his grief, i feel like having read it I was right there for him as well. After reading some great graphic novel and memoirs in the past couple of years, I’m trying to be open to reading more. I’ve gotten a few from the library that I could tell right away were not for me, but I’m happy with this new to me genre.

  28. 5 out of 5

    Emmy Williams

    I know Danny Gregory from Sketchbook Skool. After a while I realized that I had his book ‘creative license’ on my book shelf. I was surprised then excited. I went to the library and found more of his books and requested all of them. As for this book it was like a guilty pleasure of reading someone’s journal. Art journal no less. It was sad and honest and truthful. I read it in one sitting and I liked it a lot

  29. 4 out of 5

    Mary Kenyon

    I wore my husband's watch too! I'd never heard that from another bereaved spouse until I read Danny Gregory's wonderful book. I had no explanation, either, but the heaviness of the watch band made me feel like my husband was near. Excellent book, despite the sad subject. Made me want to read more of his work.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Shandra

    I really enjoy Danny Gregory's art. This story made me tear up. It's about losing someone and I can deeply relate to it. Like your world is flipped upside down and the normal becomes a strange memory.

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