Wednesday, December 11, 2019

Book Review: A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical advice for living life and facing death

What I've Been Reading: A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical advice for living life and facing death by BJ Miller, MD and Shoshana Berger published in 2019.

A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical advice for living life and facing death is an excellent resource that covers a broad swath of material.  Divided into 5 sections, the authors provide the reader with thoughts, suggestions, sample questions and other tips from the financial aspects of end-of-life care to asking for help to pre-planning a funeral/burial.  The breadth of material covered is wide, perhaps the widest I've seen in any one book.  With that breadth comes a lack of depth.  That is not necessarily a negative -- the breadth shows the reader the wide range of issues to address and dips into each.  A reader would then seek out more thorough information on any one topic of interest.  For example, estate planning is covered in less than 5 pages, yet it is a topic I can speak about for 2 hours or more.

The book is easy to read, the font seems a bit larger, and there are sidebars that speak directly to a caregiver.  The reason I did not give this book 5 stars was the fact I could not get around the fact the book seems highly logical and likely beyond the mental, emotional, and physical condition of someone diagnosed with a terminal illness.  I believe the book would be of most use to family and or caregivers of a very sick person.  Should the patient receive a diagnosis and maintain the emotional and physical strength to read this material, that is wonderful.  Having walked with both of my parents through their final years and passing's as well as nearly 15 years of practicing estate planning, I can attest to the fact this book may be beyond many people who are terminally ill. 

Overall, I highly recommend this book.  There is no need to actually wait for a terminal diagnosis to take control of your life.  From finances to designating people in charge to contemplating your final disposition, this is a book that touches on everyone's life.

For additional information on this book you may want to listen to WPR's Central Time show from 7/25/19 entitled Practical (And Uplifting) Advice For Preparing For The End.  NPR ran a similar show on December 3, 2019 on Fresh Air with the title After A Freak Accident, A Doctor Finds Insight Into 'Living Life And Facing Death'.