|Print List Price:||$14.95|
Save $8.96 (60%)
The Heart of the Hereafter: Love Stories from the End of Life Kindle Edition
|New from||Used from|
See the Best Books of the Month
Want to know our Editors' picks for the best books of the month? Browse Best Books of the Month, featuring our favorite new books in more than a dozen categories.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Customers who bought this item also bought
Would you like to tell us about a lower price?
Top customer reviews
I give this book five very large stars! Having for many years had a great interest in the subject of death and dying, I did at one time have a hunch that I would myself at some point be working with people who were facing death. But it in due course turned out that my particular calling in that area was not to work with people who were dying, but rather with those who were already dead but stuck in between realms. I was therefore delighted to come across a book written by someone who is actually doing this vitally important work in a hospice situation, and I sincerely hope that her fascinating experiences will inspire many others to follow in her footsteps. For one of my many complaints about present-day Western society is the tendency not only to endeavour to prolong life unnecessarily, but also to shut the reality of death away – as though one could escape from this reality by not thinking about it until absolutely forced to. This is bad both for the people who are coming to the end of their lives and for their families and all those around them.
The author is a Professor of Art History at Rice University, Houston, who has also for the last five years been ‘Artist in Residence’ at the Department of Palliative Care and Rehabilitation in the Anderson Cancer Center of the University of Texas, and it is her work at this Center that is the focus of this wonderful book. However, although her subject is Art and although Art is renowned as a valuable form of therapy (I have a professional artist friend who painted her way through cancer), the medium that Professor Brennan uses with the patients is actually that of writing. One of the most important things for a dying person is to make sense of the physical life that is just coming to an end, and the therapy that the author has developed so effectively is to get the people with whom she is working to put down on paper the key points of their own life history. Following her lengthy but interesting Acknowledgements and a beautiful Introduction, and before a compelling Conclusion, the middle part of the book consists of ten true, and varied, stories selected from over a thousand cases that the author has dealt with so sensitively. She explains that we have long since lost the early modern European tradition of circulating ‘ars moriendo’ (guides to the art of dying, which included commentaries and prayers to be said either by the dying person him or herself or by those around them), but that her idea is to replace these by an ‘ars vivendi’, and that to achieve this one needs to be completely open to whatever might arise at the bedside. She explains that “the artworks [i.e. the pieces that the patients write] can help to facilitate communication and promote a sense of mutual understanding between the person and the world around them.” Another important point that Marcia makes (quoting Dame Cecily Saunders, the founder of the hospice movement) is that the whole person must be treated since it is the whole person who is suffering, and I was particularly struck by the quotation from a senior physician of her acquaintance who commented that he could write a prescription to alleviate someone’s pain but not one to alleviate their suffering.
Though clearly written by an academic, those who are less academically inclined should not be put off by this. For one thing, the book is well worth buying for Lyn Smallwood’s illustrations alone! And for each of these Marcia has provided a very detailed and illuminating analysis. The author’s awareness of the fact that someone whose life is coming to an end may well be drifting in and out between this world and the next reminds me of a very dear friend who died in the nursing home to which she had been admitted on account of suffering from dementia among several other things. Although Susie never really understood where she was, and although when one visited one would never know whether or not one would be recognised, the dementia did nothing to diminish her innate generosity of spirit and the warm welcome that everyone would always receive from her. She had been a great dog lover for all of her 85 years, and when we were mourning the death of a pet dog and thinking of looking for another one, my husband and I knew that Susie recognised us when said “I’ve got fourteen dogs. You must go and have a look and see if there’s one that you’d like to have.” Then, on our next visit, she asked “Did you go and have a look at those dogs?” Well, many people would dismiss this as the “nonsensical ramblings of a demented old woman”, but my explanation was different. It is well known that people who are dying often communicate with loved ones who have already passed over, but Susie, who had been single all her life and never close to her C- and conservative, unspiritual, family, had owned numerous dogs in the past and it seems to me to be highly likely that it was they who were waiting to greet her on the other side. And Professor Brennan herself says “Sometimes when I visit people at the end of life, I get the sense that they are inhabiting multiple worlds at once. It is as if they are simultaneously experiencing multiple states of being.”
Just as I promised myself quite a while ago that I would re-read Sogyal Rinpoche’s The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying at least once every five years, my advice (N.B. to people of all ages!) is to buy this book, to read it right through slowly, as the author recommends, and then to put it onto a shelf – preferably a shelf that you look at regularly – ready to be picked up again at any moment. For we never know when death might strike someone close to us, and Marcia’s moving stories are at that moment sure to be of use and comfort. Then, when we sense that our own turn might be around the corner, we can read it yet again – or get someone else to read it to us if we ourselves are no longer capable of doing so.
Ann Merivale (author of ‘DISCOVERING THE LIFE PLAN – Eleven Steps to Your Destiny’, 6th BOOKS, 2012, ‘DELAYED DEPARTURE – A Beginner’s Guide to Soul Rescue’, 6th BOOKS, 2013, and ‘LIFE WITHOUT ELGAR – A Tale of a Journeying Soul’, 6th BOOKS, October 2014).
Set up an Amazon Giveaway
Look for similar items by category
- Books > Christian Books & Bibles > Christian Living > Death & Grief
- Books > Parenting & Relationships
- Books > Politics & Social Sciences > Philosophy > Metaphysics
- Books > Religion & Spirituality > New Age & Spirituality
- Books > Self-Help > Death & Grief > Grief & Bereavement
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Health, Fitness & Dieting > Death & Grief
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Politics & Social Sciences > Philosophy > Metaphysics
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Religion & Spirituality > Christian Books & Bibles > Christian Living > Death & Grief
- Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Religion & Spirituality > Occult > Metaphysical Phenomena