After experiencing a paralyzing stroke in 1995 and facing her own mortality, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross (author of the renowned On Death and Dying
) realized she had some unfinished business to take care of. "I wanted to write one more book, not on death and dying, but on life and living," she explains. So she joined forces with coauthor David Kessler, a leader in the field of hospice care, and together they wrote about the lessons we can learn about living from those who are dying. As Kessler explains in his introduction, "The dying have always been teachers of great lessons, for it's when we are pushed to the edge of life that we see most clearly."
In days gone by, the community would have gathering places where children and adults listened to elders tell their stories of life's challenges and the meaning they found in life. In lieu of that kind of extended community, the authors offer this book, filled with stories from the edge. Then, like fireside elders, they weave these personal stories into themes, such as living authentically, the importance of play, finding one's power, loving relationships, and self-compassion. One cannot say enough about the lasting value of this beautifully written and carefully rendered book. This is your chance to see life from the 20/20 vision of hindsight. In the end what will we value most? Here are some hints: the days we surrendered and became calm, the times we healed that which was broken, and of course all the moments we opened ourselves to love. --Gail Hudson
From Publishers Weekly
Blending the words of two authors is a precarious undertaking, particularly when the two voices are as strong and well-known as those of K bler-Ross and hospice-care leader Kessler (The Rights of the Dying). Given the similarity in their viewpoints as experts on death and dying, this collaboration seems logical, but unfortunately the alternating entries result in repetitive, rambling prose that lacks punch. The "lessons from the edge of life" culled from the authors' patients include letting go of anger, guilt and fear; learning patience; mourning and accepting loss; playing, laughing and enjoying life; and surrendering to what can't be changed. Although some of the brief personal stories are poignant, the underlying precepts are not new. Kessler and K bler-Ross offer only familiar aphorisms: "live every day to its fullest," "each of us has the power of the universe within us," happiness is a state of mind we can choose, suffering is an opportunity for growth, "life is a school, complete with individualized tests and challenges." Such lessons may be true and useful, but here they come off as trite. K bler-Ross has been ill for many years, suffering two strokes that left her partially incapacitated and may have made writing difficult, but the brief glimpses into her personal journey through illness and near death cry out for elaboration. Mentions of coping with a home health-care worker who stole from her, a nurse who labeled her "combative" and friends who must help this previously vigorous woman navigate the world in a wheelchair indicate a much fuller, richer story than the expanded platitudes offered here, which are unlikely to widen either author's readership. (Nov.)
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.