A wise and affirming meditation on living fully and preparing for death, written by a highly regarded spiritual teacher.
One of the few certainties in life is that at some point, everyone must leave it. Yet the pragmatic decisions that can bring comfort, aid, and reassurance both to those facing death and those left behind are often sidelined due to fear and denial.
Praised by New York Times columnist David Brooks for combining "extreme empathy with extreme tough-mindedness," Erica Brown is a leading religious scholar and counselor. In Happier Endings, she leads readers on an emotional journey toward preparation for and acceptance of death, drawing on the wisdom found in many faiths and spiritual traditions.
The first step, Brown writes, is to be comfortable discussing death. This kind of honesty allows for important conversations, from financial wills to "ethical wills" - guides you can leave to your family about the values you deem important. Along the way, Brown introduces a number of remarkable people who help others prepare for death: from Cheryl, a woman who prepares bodies for funerals in a small Jewish community in Oklahoma; to the spry mother who encouraged her daughters to sprinkle her ashes on her favorite mountain during a ski trip; to the man whose heirs have been reading his ethical will every year for generations.
As more Americans consider hospice and palliative care, this is both a timely and timeless guide brimming with insight and compassion.
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 Americans love to avoid. (Reviewed by Stacey Brownlie).
Brown writes expansively about the long, dark night we all must eventually face, sharing stories from her own reflections as well as those of others who chose not to turn away when faced with their own mortalities. In an appendix, the author examines how to write an "ethical will" and what information to include. The answers these people have earned are by no means applicable to every reader, but their questions, and how they wrestle with them, provide a great deal of insight.
Fear and death don't present themselves as the most ideal topics for a life-affirming book, but Brown manages to overcome negativity in her effort to create happier endings, for the living and the dying.
Starred Review. By no means limited in its appeal to a Jewish readership, this well-presented volume should speak to readers of all spiritualities as well as to those who identify as not spiritual.
Bruce Feiler, bestselling author of Walking the Bible and The Council of Dads
Erica Brown is the teacher we all want and the guide we all need. Happier Endings is an elegant portrait of the most powerful part of being human: how we live. From the wisdom of the Bible to the frontier of the Internet, this important book makes the persuasive case that the final years of life are among the most critical – and the most meaningful. Bravo.
David Gregory, NBC News
Erica Brown has a unique voice. A woman of faith, she speaks to everyone searching for God and greater meaning. In Happier Endings, Erica explores our attitudes toward death by helping us identify what it means to be alive. She inspires and she reminds us what is most important before we say goodbye.
David Brooks, The New York Times
Brown has what many people are looking for these days…conviction.
Daniel Silva, author of The Fallen Angel
Erica Brown is wise and brilliant, with a refreshing sense of humor and an enriching perspective on some of life's great challenges. Readers will find comfort and sustenance in her words.
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.
The American Association of Retired Persons' caregiving guide on ethical wills recommends that they be shared with recipients while the will's writer is still alive. According to the reference companion Jewish Religion (Louis...
Knocking on Heaven's Door is a visionary map through the labyrinth of a broken and morally adrift medical system. It will inspire the necessary and difficult conversations we all need to have with loved ones as it illuminates a path to a better way of death.
A Man Called Intrepid author dies aged 89(Dec 03 2013) William Stevenson, a journalist and author who drew on his close ties with intelligence sources to write two best-selling books in the 1970s, A Man Called...