It’s difficult to talk about, even scary. Important things usually are.
And deciding what to do about that transition between life and death – how to make it more comfortable, what to do afterwards – is so very important, to our loved ones and ourselves. It involves issues not only of health, but of spirituality, compassion and trust.
Whether your focus of concern is on a family member or yourself, this April the NNLM Reading Club suggests three books that may help with your understanding of end-of-life matters and those conversations you probably have been putting off.
In The Unwinding of the Miracle: A Memoir of Life, Death and Everything That Comes After, the late Julie Yip-Williams leaves behind a chronicle of a life filled with improbable outcomes since her childhood as a blind Vietnamese refugee who regained her sight at the hands of an American doctor. She faces her own terminal illness at age 37 with honesty.
New Yorker cartoonist Roz Chast brings her idiosyncratic humor to her experience as caretaker of aging, declining parents in the graphic memoir Can’t We Talk About Something More Pleasant? Finally, Zen Hospice Project co-founder Frank Ostaseski relates the lessons he has learned as a Buddhist teacher who has worked with more than a thousand dying patients in The Five Invitations: Discovering What Death Can Teach Us about Living.
We encourage you to take a deep breath, read one of these books, and discuss it with people whose opinions you respect, especially those in your own family. It just might make you feel a whole lot better about the inevitable. Visit the NNLM Reading. Club: End of Life health topic to get started.