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

Monday, December 8th, 2014

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: susan@lieberman.net.

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: http://womensvoicesforchange.org/on-emotional-health-the-need-to-say-goodbye.htm


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