Eight days later, Hazel gets a call in the middle of the night to tell her that Augustus has died. Hazel tells her parents and Isaac the news and then falls into deep pain, “every second worse than the last” (p.262), trying to cope with the loss of someone who so made up her life recently and feeling as if without him even their memories are less real. Comparing the pain on a scale to anything else she had experienced throughout her three years with cancer, Hazel calls this the ten she had been saving. She calls him and gets his voicemail. She looks at his Facebook, once again appalled by the misguided and self-centered posts she finds. She writes a biting response to one post but gets no comment back from anyone. Finally, she crawls onto her parents’ laps and lets them hold her for hours.
Hazel doesn’t really want to attend the funeral with everyone else who once knew him but she knows she has to. She watches other people go up to his coffin then does so herself, hugging his parents. Leaving her oxygen tank behind with her father and fighting for strength on her way up, she goes to his coffin, observes him in the same suit he wore to Oranjee so recently, kisses his cheek and tells him that she loves him and “Okay,” and finally tucks a pack of cigarettes into the coffin with him.
The ceremony begins and in response to some words said by the preacher she hears, “What a load of horse crap, eh, kid?” (P.271.) Hazel spins around and is shocked to find Peter Van Houten sitting there but tries to ignore him. Isaac delivers a eulogy different than the one from the Last Good Day but still touching. Some other friends of Augustus say some words and then it is Hazel’s turn. Instead of delivering a speech like she or he would like she gives one full of Encouragements that will make the other people in the funeral happy thinking that “funerals, I had decided, are for the living” (p.273). His sister speaks, his brother-in-law plays a song by Hectic Glow that Gus had liked, and then the pallbearers take out the coffin.
Hazel doesn’t want to go to the cemetery, pleading with her parents that she is tired, but they make her go. Afterward, Peter Van Houten asks Hazel’s family for a ride back to his rental car. He tries to speak to Hazel again with fluffy language and allusion but she shuts him down, accepting a sip of his whiskey and then asking him to leave the car. She has quiet evening, eating a bit to appease her parents and then sleeping for a while. Later, Hazel’s father comes into the bathroom to talk to her and they talk about life and love, he making her feel a bit better.
A few days later, Hazel goes to Isaac’s house. They play blind video games again, trying to get the game to do funny things like hump cave walls. They pause after a while and talk about Gus, Isaac telling Hazel again that he truly loved her. However, a bit of new information comes up when Isaac mentions that Augustus had potentially actually been working on a sequel to An Imperial Affliction for Hazel.
Hazel gets into her car to drive to Augustus’s house and look for the sequel only to find Peter Van Houten creepily waiting in the back seat of her car. He apologizes, waxing poetic about a child saint and finally breaking down in tears about ruining their trip, saying they were too young. All at once, Hazel realizes Van Houten has had someone important in his family die. She asks him if he had a child and he admits that yes, he had a young daughter who died of leukemia, just like Anna in the book. He’d been separated from her mother but spent time with her trying out experimental therapies at the end, eventually having to explain to her that she was going to die. When she did, he promised her that he would meet her soon in Heaven - he says that that was 22 years ago now. Hazel tells him to go home, sober up, and write. He agrees, but when she leaves him on the curb on the side of the road she sees him contemplate his bottle and then take a sip.
Hazel gets to Augustus’s house and talks to his parents a while, letting them feed him. His sisters and their families are still around providing noise in what would otherwise perhaps be too quiet of a house. His parents allow her to go down to his room though they haven’t been able to go down themselves yet. Hazel looks through the documents on his computer, searches for a journal in his room, and rifles through his copies of An Imperial Affliction and Infinite Mayhem (yet another sequel to The Price of Dawn). Not finding anything, she lays down in his bed, soaking in his smell. Finally she goes back upstairs where his parents apologize but say that he probably wouldn’t have had the time or energy to write anything secretly.
Three days later, Gus’s father calls to say they did find a journal. Though there’s nothing written in it, a few pages are ripped out of the front. Hazel decides to check in the room where Support Group is held and picks up Isaac early so that she can search the room. Finding nothing, Hazel is testy at Support Group but receives some realistic support from Patrick who asks her why she decides to live and not die; Hazel doesn’t have a real answer but thinks to herself that she feels as if she owes a debt to the universe and to everyone else who doesn’t get to be alive.
When Hazel gets home she immediately gets embroiled in a fight with her mother about eating that night. She finally brings up the thing she heard her mom say back when she had her “miracle” about not being a mother anymore and tells her parents that she wants them to have a life outside of her, especially after she dies. Her mother admits that she’s been taking online classes in social work. Hazel is ecstatic at this news, imagining her mom being like Patrick at Support Group and crying with happiness. Her mom says that she has actually been studying for a year, doing her readings and essays late at night and in the car waiting for Hazel to come out of classes and such. Hazel and her parents watch TV together as they often like to, stopping momentarily when Hazel asks if they will stay together when she dies with them promising that they will.
The next day, Hazel gets a call from Kaitlyn in the morning. Kaitlyn asks about being love and they talk briefly until Hazel has a realization - Augustus may have sent the pages from the front of his notebook to Peter Van Houten. Hazel gets off the phone quickly and emails Lidewij. She gets a response from Lidewij that afternoon saying she hasn’t been back since quitting on the day of the awful meeting but that she will go look through Van Houten’s mail. Hazel refreshes her email all night, thinking of her time with Augustus, until her mother comes in and announces that it’s a very special holiday - Bastille Day.
Hazel and her parents go to the park to celebrate and after watching children play for a while Hazel consents to go see Gus’s grave. Hazel does not feel much being there but puts a little French flag in the earth mounded there. At home, Hazel finds an email from Lidewij with four attachments. She says that Van Houten was very drunk when she arrived but she found Gus’s letter and made him read it. Van Houten instructed her to send it to Hazel without any additions.
The letters are written in a large slanting hand but are undeniably the familiar voice of Augustus. Gus had written to Van Houten to ask him to write a eulogy for Hazel based on things Gus thinks but feels he is not a good enough writer to arrange well. He acknowledges that it is silly and animal-like to have wanted to mark anything as his before he died. He calls Hazel a real hero for paying attention to the world and describes the time she was in the ICU and was assured by the nurse that he hadn’t seen her, revealing that he actually had. He ends by calling her beautiful and noting once more that “You don’t get to choose if you hurt in this world, old man, but you do have some say in who hurts you. I like my choices. I hope she likes hers” (p.313). Hazel finishes off the story by directing a final comment to Augustus, telling him that she does like hers.
A striking choice on the part of Hazel (and Green) in this section is that of preparing a new eulogy, different from the one she would and did give directly to Augustus. Hazel justifies this by saying that funerals are for the living, coming to terms, with a somewhat sardonic tone, with one of the major issues of the Facebook posts she found on Caroline's and then Augustus's walls. Isaac's, too, is different, but not as falsely Encouragement-filled as Hazel's and definitely more personal. It may be the case that, though Hazel justifies her choice as about making a speech for the living, she is also trying to keep private her love with Augustus as she feels the memories and feelings already slipping away.
Hazel's interactions with Peter Van Houten in these last five chapters show her acceptance and even besting of the at times unpalatable reality of adults and authors as merely human. Though Hazel calls Peter Van Houten her third best friend in the first chapter of the book, she now has a much more mature ability to distinguish an author from their work and even a person's sadness from their vice, as when she realizes that he had a daughter who died. This quality shows a coming of age in Hazel and also reminds the reader, as in Green's Author's Note, that books stand on their own apart from the reality of the author's life.
Hazel's joy at the knowledge that her mother has been taking online classes to get a Masters of Social Work is incredibly cathartic both for the protagonist and the reader. Hazel has felt pressure ever since her diagnosis over three years before to be her parents entire lives, worrying that they will be destroyed at worst and perhaps divorced at best once she is out of the picture. It is very mature of Hazel to be proud and supportive of her mother's plans, even if they will likely be put into effect once Hazel dies, and her tears may mingle some sadness still with the overwhelming joy and relief.
Green book-ending (that is, starting and beginning his story) with the Hazel's mother celebrating minor holidays demonstrates that life goes on, changed in some giant ways and yet unchanged in others. Hazel's mother, a large influence in her life, has taught Hazel to be able to be happy and see the good in small things like celebrating holidays together, and this gives Hazel the ability to feel pain for the loss of Augustus but also prepare to move on with her family and her life.
Augustus's letter seems to demonstrate some ability in his last days to accept both that he will not make much artificial claim on the world and that it was a somewhat foolish, animal-like desire. Though he and Hazel have argued often about this, from his removed vantage he is now able to acknowledge that her point of view is superior, even perhaps in the pursuit of making an impact on the world, just as Isaac once said about his video game strategies. The letter gives Hazel some closure, knowing firstly that there is not and never will be a sequel to An Imperial Affliction and more importantly coming to terms with the pain and joy (and maybe joy in the pain, as the Encouragement goes) that she and Augustus caused one another.