Talking About Death Won't Kill You

Talking About Death Won't Kill You

Book - 2001
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With its wise and very compelling argument that we should face death before it faces us, Talking About Death Won't Kill You addresses cultural, personal, medical, and legal concerns to find a way for us-as individuals, and as a society-to prepare for a good death, a death where the dying are in control and not, as is too often the case, caught in a downward spiral of medical intervention and misunderstood intentions. It is an argument for facing fears. An argument for taking the thought of our death out of the shadows of denial and preparing, with our loved ones, the living wills, medical directives, value history forms, and even simple letters that will explain what it truly is we want when the time comes. It is an argument for honest diagnosis, for hospice care, for creating rituals, for finding love and comfort at the end instead of false hope and forbidding technology. With its skillful interweaving of personal stories and practical matters, scientific fact and spiritual sensitivity, Talking About Death Won't Kill You is a powerful book about how we can achieve a greater sense of peace in dying, and so rediscover the art of living.
Publisher: New York : Workman Pub., 2001.
ISBN: 9780761112310
Branch Call Number: 155.937 MOR
Characteristics: x, 294 p.


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Jul 16, 2018

I wish every single person I know (at least) would read this book. Not a feel-good subject, but that's exactly the subject of this book. Morris explains why we should stop avoiding the topic of death and how doing so could make both our life and our death better. It's a practical and thorough book that explains how "living wills" (even when they exist) are seldom followed and how we can teach ourselves and our families to avoid unnecessary medical procedures at the end of our life.

Two criticisms: Morris talks a lot about "loved ones" - an expression I've never liked because it's rarely used except at funerals. Nevertheless I can't think of a convenient synonym so she probably couldn't either. Also, she assumes a rather romantic stance throughout the book about those surrounding the bedside of the dying person - that they universally want the person to live longer, and that they so passionately love the person that they can't let go. She did a lot of research, so maybe I'm in the minority here, but my experience is that "loved ones" have as wide a range of feelings about the dying/dead person as they did throughout their lives together, ranging from love to obligation to dislike, and sometimes all at various times. Also, my experience is that when a person (especially a very old person) has been terribly sick for a long time, "loved ones" hope they'll die soon, both to end the sick person's suffering and to be able to get on with their own lives. Morris hints a few times that there may be those feelings, but she overwhelmingly deals with the other "I can't let you go" feelings.

Nevetheless, her advice is practical and I learned a lot.

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