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Jane Brody's Guide to the Great Beyond: A Practical Primer to Help You and Your Loved Ones Prepare Medically, Legally, and Emotionally for the End of Life Hardcover – February 17, 2009


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Random House; 1 edition (February 17, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400066549
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400066544
  • Product Dimensions: 9.7 x 6.4 x 1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #331,837 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. In her inimitably straightforward, informative and intelligent manner, New York Times health columnist Brody (Jane Brodys Good Food Book) gives pragmatic direction to a concerned yet reluctant readership in this essential travel guide for the journey toward the inevitable. In pointing out that there is a difference between sensibly learning to accept death and surrendering, she reminds us that our attitude about living colors our approach to death. Thoroughly outlining all attendant demands and details for facing ones end, Brody provides facts and support for families and patients, and makes it appear entirely possible to go with grace. With bulleted lists itemizing what needs to be done and how to do it, short portraits and anecdotes throughout, Brody covers the importance of preparation; the necessity of an advance directive and why a living will is not enough; funeral plans; living with a bad prognosis and dealing with uncertainty; caregiving; hospice; communicating with doctors; assisted dying; organ donation and autopsy; and legacies. An instructive, inspiring and reassuring work full of compassion and humor (along with several cartoons from various New Yorker illustrators), this volume belongs on every familys bookshelf. (Jan.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Review

Advance praise for Jane Brody’s Guide to the Great Beyond

“We’re all going to die some day, so we might as well do it right. Jane Brody, a master of information and storytelling, does that in her wonderful and enjoyable new book. This is for everyone who doesn’t like the subject–and for everyone else as well. ”
–Betty Rollin, author of Last Wish and Here’s the Bright Side

“Jane Brody teaches us how to go smartly into the good night, holding our loved one’s hands, heads held high.”
–Dan Shapiro, Ph.D., Arnold P. Gold Professor of Medical Humanism, Penn State College of Medicine

“I didn’t think it could be done, but then Jane Brody has always accomplished the impossible–she has demystified and given us real control over the thing we fear the most. This book is a gift to all her fellow humans.”
–Diane E. Meier, M.D., director, Center to Advance Palliative Care, Mount Sinai School of Medicine

“This is more than a ‘primer.’ It is a must-read for anyone dealing with his or her own end-of-life issues or those of a loved one. Brody leads us on a journey we would rather not take by explaining things we would rather not think about –with compassion, caring, and an understanding that death is an inevitable part of life for which we must prepare.”
–William D. Novelli, CEO, AARP

“At long last we have a comprehensive, humane book about end-of-life care. This is not a ‘pop’ book but rather a thoughtful, science-based, honest discussion of a topic people want to avoid–and do so at their own risk. While it is facile to speak of a ‘good death’ it is all too easy to mis-plan and end up experiencing a bad one.”
–Robert N. Butler, M.D., president and CEO, International Longevity Center

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Customer Reviews

4.2 out of 5 stars
5 star
18
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2
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See all 27 customer reviews
I liked one cartoon in particular.
Julie Neal
Brody provides checklists of things that patients and family members may want to ask doctors and nurses that make this book practical and very useful.
Jeanne M. Hannah
We read it together over a period of time.
Colleen Hamilton

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Julie Neal TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 24, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Jane Brody has written many sensible books on improving the quality of life. Now she has added to that list with a book about improving the quality of death.

The subhead says it all: A practical primer to help you and your loved ones prepare medically, legally, and emotionally for the end of life. This book is full of invaluable advice that anyone can use, whatever their age. Death is the end of the story for everybody, so it makes excellent sense to learn about it and make decisions. The better your plan, the better likelihood the end of life will be the one you'd pick.

The tone of the Guide to the Great Beyond is compassionate and upbeat. Although there is plenty of science and hard-nosed legal advice, there are also cartoons and personal vignettes. I liked one cartoon in particular. A doctor stands in front of a patient and says "Before I go over your test results, can we agree no one lives forever?"

Included is a six-page prototype of a living will that readers can copy for their own use.

Other good books by this author include Jane Brody's Good Food Book, Jane Brody's Nutrition Book, Jane Brody's Good Food Gourmet, Jane Brody's Good Seafood Book and Jane Brody's Allergy Fighter.
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16 of 17 people found the following review helpful By Erik Engquist on February 28, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Here's the starred review from Publishers Weekly (January 2009):

In her inimitably straightforward, informative and intelligent manner, New York Times health columnist Brody (Jane Brody's Good Food Book) gives pragmatic direction to a concerned yet reluctant readership in this essential travel guide for the journey toward the inevitable. In pointing out that there is a difference between sensibly learning to accept death and surrendering, she reminds us that our attitude about living colors our approach to death. Thoroughly outlining all attendant demands and details for facing one's end, Brody provides facts and support for families and patients, and makes it appear entirely possible to "go with grace." With bulleted lists itemizing what needs to be done and how to do it, short portraits and anecdotes throughout, Brody covers the importance of preparation; the necessity of an advance directive and why a living will is not enough; funeral plans; living with a bad prognosis and dealing with uncertainty; caregiving; hospice; communicating with doctors; assisted dying; organ donation and autopsy; and legacies. An instructive, inspiring and reassuring work full of compassion and humor (along with several cartoons from various New Yorker illustrators), this volume belongs on every family's bookshelf.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Jeanne M. Hannah on April 5, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I have just finished reading this extraordinary book, a book so remarkable that I am making a list of all of the people with whom I will share it.

Most people my age have experienced many losses in their life. For me, those losses have included my grandparents, parents, and my dear sister Kay who died of cancer at the age of 47. Many of the vignettes and insights shared by Jane Brody resonated with me. Brody shared her personal experience of her mother dying in 1958 of complications of ovarian cancer only weeks before Brody graduated from high school. What she described was not much different from the experience of my nephew Kris and my niece Trisha. More than ten years after Kay's death, Kris said to me, "Aunt Jeannie, I don't understand why you knew that Mom was dying and no one even told us." It wasn't that Kris and Trisha weren't right there. It's that no one, not even Kay, could or would admit that she was dying. Had she told me? No. I only knew because I was in daily communication with Kay and my intuition picked up on what was not said to me. Brody encourages me to believe that we can and should learn to talk about death openly.

Brody's wise advice and advocacy is reflected in this note: "From the start, consider the finish." Her comment reminds me of an old saying: "Nobody gets out of here alive." That is not to say that Brody destroys the idea of hope. In fact, she advises hope with a healthy dose of reality. Brody has provided a wonderful guide to help families negotiate the pitfalls from a time of diagnosis through those inevitable experiences of grief.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Gary A. Klein on July 4, 2009
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
My mother-in-law is dying of cancer and old age (she is 90). My mother is 88 and just moving from her home to an independent living apartment. I bought copies of this book both for myself and for my wife and siblings and all have given me feedback about how useful Brody's discussions and insights are. It is particularly useful concerning "the nitty gritty" concerning DNR and the variations on what DNR means, as well as on the symptoms exhibited during the last few months of life. I did not find everything useful or applicable, but for issues of concern to me and my family she provided very clear and very useful information. And I will certainly be re-drawing my own medical instructions to better address the issues she explicates. A useful and highly recommended book.
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