The world is full of sickness and death. Or, maybe just my world — though I suspect if you live long and love deeply this will happen in your world too.
In times of sadness and uncertainty, I turn to books. And so, for the last few years as sickness set in and death hovered, I considered what makes a good life, and a good death, and how do we get there? So you don't have to wade through the muck (death/dying/grief is a saturated market!), let me share the books that have helped me through:
These books provided insight, perspective, and sometimes solace. But really, after all the research and study, the best information came from two unexpected sources: a movie and a friend.
The Meyerowitz Stories is not a great movie but sometimes the right sentiment hits you in the right place at the right time. In this movie (available on Netflix) three adult children are dealing with their difficult, declining father. They are told the five things to say to him before he dies:
I love you.
I forgive you.
These short sentences are powerful. And, it turns out they are adapted from a book — of course! — The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living, by Dr. Ira Byock, a leader in palliative care.
Years ago, before I started walking my own family and friends to the end, a friend in the throes of her own loss tendered these wise words:
Death is not a crisis.
Death has the power to make us reel, ache and fold in half. And it may feel like an emergency, all adrenaline and fog. But death, like birth, is nature, not crisis.