on December 8, 2001
This book is a welcome breath of fresh air in a world that seems to pretend that death never happens. It does, and this book reminds that denial will cheat us from what matters in life. My experience as a physician reminds me every day that death is an essential part of life. The book is filled with moving stories about people's confrontation with death and lessons to help us lead a richer life.
on September 21, 2001
A powerful and positive call to action that inspired me to "make death part of life".
Like most Americans, I come from a family in which the very thought of death is always put off until it's much, much too late. Ms. Morris's book changed all that for me. It defanged the "death monster" and turned it into a facet of life that I will think about, talk about and prepare for with my family and friends in a manner that will ease the passage of the dying invididual as well as those who love that person.
I never thought a book about death could be so life-affirming!!
on October 16, 2001
I bought this book because I am starting to volunteer at a convalescent home. I recommend it for anyone who is going to comfort the terminally ill.
The book's true stories and descriptions of what extreme life-saving measures doctors often resort to, have made me want to have a very specific advanced medical directive. Artificial breathing / ventilation and feeding tubes are not for me!
on November 16, 2001
Virgina understands that remembering is part of healing.
I also use Write from Your Heart, A Healing Grief Journal in my classes. It is good to find books such as these.
For the children I teach I use After the Tears, A Gentle Guide to Help Children Understand Death.
on June 3, 2005
Although I am an RN and have wrapped many patients for the morgue in my day, I still fear death and if I will feel anything when I am dead. This book was affirming, validating and inspiring. It will help me live my life. How does so young a person have such insight into this topic? Of note an article entitled "Could the clinically dead feel pain" in ABC Science Online is fascinating. Thankyou Virginia. Buy the BOOK!
"We have the opportunity not only to improve our own lot, but to make sure that the next generation is better able to cope with death and dying when they come upon it." ~ pg. 185
When I mention that I'm reading a book about death friends tend to advise me that I should read more about life, which I do most of the time. I just feel it is important to prepare for your own death or the death of someone you love. When an emergency strikes it is less likely that you will have time to read about death so I believe reading about death beforehand is the better option.
Virginia Morris writes beautifully about her own father's death and then she discusses the realities of most people's deaths. While this isn't always easy to read it does present the reader with some important choices. What would you do if someone you loved was struggling to breathe? Would you have them put on a ventilator? What if they had a living will that stated they did not want to die hooked up to machines? Then you have the doctor who might not want to get sued so he/she does everything to keep the patient alive. The truth is some life-sustaining treatments can be shocking and can prevent a patient from having a "good death."
This book is filled with comforting advice that empowers the reader to make the right choices. While there is a brief discussion on physician-assisted suicide I think the author is against it. From what I read it seems she is more in favor of a death at home in your own bed surrounded by those you love than a lonely death in a hospital while you are hooked up to machines. She also believes that everything should be done to prevent pain.
"Little time in medical school is spent discussing the patient as a person, much less the patient's needs, fears, comfort, or quality of life. Even less time is spent taklking about how to help patients die. " ~ pg. 240
Since many of us approach the subject of death with fear and dread it feels somewhat healing to get the topic out into the open. It is also helpful to know that you have many options. The way the author wrote about hospice care convinced me that it would be the better way to go.
This book briefly discusses spiritual support but does not really reveal anything about the life beyond. I found the discussion about how to teach children about death to be very helpful. The author also suggests a few books you could read to a child to explain death in an age-appropriate way. There is also a discussion of etiquette. What should you do when someone is terminally ill? This information is invaluable and is worth the price of the book.
While this book might be difficult to read the author does seem to try to balance the good deaths and the horrible deaths. She doesn't gloss over the realities of life and realizes that unless we take action beforehand we may have little choice over how we die. She brings up the issue of living wills and you may want to research the topic more on your own.
I'd recommend this book to doctors, nurses, hospice workers and family and friends of the dying. If you are facing your own death or have come to terms with the fact that you are going to die one day then I'd recommend you read this book sooner than later. It is a guidebook that will teach you to face death with a much more positive attitude. This book left me in a deeply contemplative state and I felt reading it was a meaningful experience.
~The Rebecca Review
on December 17, 2011
I picked up this book and worried that perhaps it might feel dated, given a publication date of several years ago, but was completely bowled over from the beginning with Ms. Morris' on-target approach to the problem of death in a culture that steadfastly denies it. Each chapter brought more insights, wonderfully expressed, and as a Certified Advance Care Planning Facilitator, I was continually nodding my head in agreement. If I had tried to highlight every important point in this book, the pages would be almost completely yellow. The summary chapter, Ars Viveni, alone was worth the price of the book.
I strongly recommend this book to everyone who will die in the future. Get it and read it - you will learn so much and be motivated to make decisions that may well make the last chapter of your life far more meaningful that it would be otherwise.