“in lieu of flowers”- books to help us die with dignity

Unfortunately, death can be complicated. For some of us, a life-threatening or terminal health situation forces us to face death and if we’re wise, to prepare ourselves and our family . In other cases, unprepared families are left to deal with it while also grieving.

a man tending a garden

Call me weird, but I enjoy reading obituaries because I enjoy learning about people. Some obits revel in listing the person’s achievements-education degrees, military service medals, business positions, public and volunteer service recognition;descriptions of  exotic travel, unique hobbies, special interests, creative pursuits and talents. 

One of my favorite obits was different; simple, yet revealing a wealth of information about a man known simply as Jim (edited slightly for privacy) 

“Jim, who died at 90 years old, was born on Valentine’s Day. He grew up on a farm,  joined the Army, and  went to a state teacher’s college on the GI Bill.

There he met his wife, and they had 2 children and 5 grandchildren. He earned a master’s degree and spent his professional life as a teacher of math, science, and social studies to elementary students. After retirement, he continued working as a tutor. 

Jim enjoyed backyard gardening, walking to the library, math problems, weather reports and local high school sports. Jim always put the needs of others before himself. 

In lieu of flowers please plant a flower, a tree, or even a vegetable garden. Jim would really like that.”

Despite his obituary’s simplicity, I feel like I knew Jim, he was someone I would have liked, even having as a neighbor. Obits don’t have to be complicated and fancy, and neither does life, if Jim is any proof. 

Unfortunately, death can be complicated. For some of us, a life-threatening or terminal health situation forces us to face death and if we’re wise, to prepare ourselves and our family . In other cases, unprepared families are left to deal with it while also grieving.

I have reviewed these two books that help us and our families make dying and death less arduous than it inevitably is. They cover the practical, financial, and social aspects of dying, as well as the medical, emotional, and spiritual aspects. Read them before you need them-because we all need them eventually. 

"To every thing there is a season" Bible verse with fall color leaves

Living life, facing death-a review of A Beginner’s Guide to the End

Even as a physician, I was surprised at the claim that only 10% to 20% of us will die without warning. The rest of us will know we have something that will likely take our life. And even if we don’t, we all know we will die eventually, although we tend to think and act as if it’s a well kept secret, and maybe it is.

Keep reading

An image of a large body of water

Dying with Ease- a book review

Dr. Spiess doesn’t suggest that confronted with terminal illness we refuse treatment and give up. He advocates thinking about and planning for the dying process long before we develop an illness that might be fatal.

Keep reading

exploring the HEART of health

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Thanks, Dr. Aletha

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Author: Aletha Cress Oglesby, M.D.

As a family physician, I explore the HEART of HEALTH in my work, recreation, community, and through writing. My blog, Watercress Words, informs and inspires us to live in health. I believe we can turn our health challenges into healthy opportunities. When we do, we can share the HEART of health with our families, communities, and the world. Come explore and share with me.

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