What to Expect at the End

Being solidly middle-aged, I have started to experience the fact that I can no longer do many of the things I used to do in my twenties and thirties. And those that I can do, I can’t do to the same extent. I am slower, less nimble, and get tired faster. Naturally, this has led me to think more of my own mortality, both how I can live longer and what will happen when I die. For this last of life’s events I highly recommend The Beginner’s Guide to the End by B. J. Miller and Shoshana Berger.

The book is aimed at the patient but also covers the perspective of caregivers before, during, and after the death process, whether that involves a terminal illness or simple gradual decline. It is very thorough starting with all the things that you can and should do to prepare for this inevitability, such as wills and health care proxies. There is a whole section on illnesses, what to expect at the end, and how to treat symptoms of those who are dying. Perhaps most importantly, it covers how to ask for help as well as where to find it. It is a very thorough and helpful guide for anyone who is close to death or those caring for them.

Given its topic you would be forgiven for thinking that the book is dark and depressing. I did not find it so. Death is an unavoidable part of living, and this book takes a gentle caring approach to this journey. The authors are informative and sympathetic, taking the stigma, ignorance, and fear out of dying.

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