Erica Brown accomplishes much with her new book, Happier Endings: Overcoming the Fear of Death
, not the least of which is writing an engaging and uplifting manual on ways to die well. Brown blends humor, personal experience and solid research in her quest to learn about every aspect of mortality. Where other books focus on one aspect of death, such as grief, ethics or commercial concerns, Brown includes them all and synthesizes them into an approachable meditation on a topic many of us love to avoid.
The book opens with what is likely the most challenging and obvious barrier to dying well - fear. Brown's calm acknowledgement of a nearly universal emotion serves as a persuasion, rather than a deterrent; the importance of the rest of her text depends on our motivation to alleviate the anxiety and suffering that our deepest fear brings. She states her case from the...
Beyond the Book
The author of Happier Endings
believes that creating an ethical will is an important part of facing and diminishing the fear of death. She includes an appendix with prompts designed to inspire readers to at least begin this potentially intimidating document, and then to work on it a little bit at a time. An ethical will differs from the traditional assets-focused will in that it communicates lessons and values rather than specific financial instructions. Formats and contents of ethical wills vary as much as people do; personal letters, miniature life histories, bullet-pointed advice and intangible bequests are all options.