SPIRITUALITY & RELIGION

Dessert First: Preparing for Death While Savoring Life

Chalice. Sept. 2019. 160p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9780827206694. $16.99. REL
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Trent (One Breath at a Time) writes that “Rituals are the meaning-making stuff of life,” and the ritual that most interests the author here is death, especially the death for which we are most responsible: our own. Her mother’s active dying motivated Trent to consider her own role as a “death chaplain” (a name given to her by hospital staff) as well as the social, political, and religious dimensions of a good ending. She laments that it can seem like religions have hijacked death rituals, but the reality is that actively dying allows anyone to have a good death—that is, to die where and how one wishes. Doing such preparation frees one not necessarily from the fear of death, but also from the anxiety around how one dies.
VERDICT A valuable primer on a good ending. Of particular benefit are the appendixes, which offer all manner of practical spiritual, legal, and medical guidance both for the dying and for the living.

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