Healthy Reading: Part Three- Death, Dying and Dessert by Susan Lieberman, Ph.D.

Why would I review a book on death when the first two reviews are about Healthy Reading as part of my ongoing “series” on Healthy Aging? Perhaps Dr. Susan Abel Lieberman’s first sentence in her book, Death, Dying and Dessert, which came about as a result of her periodic meetings with other friends to discuss death over dessert, will explain: It is clear that most of us understand that we will die. We just don’t expect it to happen in our lifetimes.

Death is a topic that many people, including me, avoid. But this book has helped me breach that fear, especially as some of my contemporaries have already died. Actually, Chapter 3, “Why Are We Afraid?” deals with this very topic. On page 21, the author writes: Urging us to face death is an invitation to engage in life.

I believe this is a clue as to why we are so fearful of death. We haven’t fulfilled out life’s expectations and time is growing short. As Hillel said, “If not now, when?” (Now a book by Joseph Telushkin)

The first six chapters deal with issues such as these, which I call philosophical ones, while chapters 7-11 deal with more “practical” concepts, such as advanced care directives, power of attorney, organ donation, etc. Chapters 12-20 are entitled Forms Summary, which is where all the information from the previous chapters are coalesced and explored, such as the topic, When is Hospice a Good Idea? Or Can Death Be Funny?

The author has done her homework and provided us with many resources that the subtitle promises: Reflections on 20 Questions About Dying. There are actually 20 chapters (plus appendices, such as The Croak Book, which I wrote about in my review of Susan Lieberman’s book, Getting Old is a Full Time Job. Here is the link:   ) and each one does pose a question.

I believe everyone needs to read this book and especially seniors like myself, because death is inescapable and why not be enlightened by all the ramifications of leaving our precious life? Knowing we are more prepared and so is our family because we have explored these questions and answered them to the best of our ability will ease some of the fears. Finally, the author also includes in the appendices a section called Organizing a Death, Dying, and Dessert Group of your own. (I plan to approach the social worker at our weekly meeting on retirement at the local senior center.)

Death, Dying & Dessert is available directly from Amazon and also from the author at:

P.S. Women’s Voices for Change recently posted an excellent essay called “The Need to Say Good-bye,” which ties in with Lieberman’s book. Here is the link:

4 thoughts on “Healthy Reading: Part Three- Death, Dying and Dessert by Susan Lieberman, Ph.D.

  1. I believe my Writer’s Group which includes a 102 year old woman suffices. She is amazingly upbeat
    and takes most things it stride, but was concerned that her son (69) on Kidney dialysis is on the list
    for a new kidney. “Does he have to get one the same age?” She asked. I have had some members,
    who have been totally transformed by an opportunity to read “their” stories, others have “closed down,”
    which means they either are doing they’re own thing, and won’t accept help or don’t see the point
    of delaying the inevitable. Still I have gained a perspective that puts me in a better position to understand that even though most of the women have been to college and even graduate school,
    it doesn’t mean they retain the same enthusiasm and interest that I try to promulgate each time
    we have a writing session. To truly have a Community among retired individuals, you have to
    penetrate their needs and try to find means of giving them a sense of peace and good-will.

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