Why you should get ready to die while you live -a book review

“The reason obituaries are so dull to read is that they are so dull to write and that’s precisely why I’m writing my own: To save my family the drudgery in an otherwise stressful time.”

Besides attending church on Sundays, I routinely read the local Sunday newspaper. I never miss the comics, Ask Amy advice column, restaurant reviews, and the obituaries. Sometimes I find an obit of someone I know or know of. But even if I don’t, I usually read one or two.

Sometimes the person’s life is so remarkable I’m surprised I’d never heard of them. Sometimes it’s so intriguing I wish I had known them. That is the case with a recent one, particularly because it was written by the deceased man himself.

I’m sharing this obituary with you with names deleted to protect privacy and some sections paraphrased. I think you will agree this is a man worth knowing.

David B.

“The reason obituaries are so dull to read is that they are so dull to write and that’s precisely why I’m writing my own: To save my family the drudgery in an otherwise stressful time. Following the standard format of obits I’ll start with I was born in 1948. I enjoyed being an only child until my two sisters came along. After that I learned to be an only child with two sisters.

I have to stop here and mention that when my kidneys failed in my forties, my youngest sister unselfishly agreed to transplant one of hers. When it came time much later for another transplant my older sister conveniently developed cancer rendering her ineligible. Fortunately our son jumped at the chance and eagerly agreed to step up for which I was profoundly grateful.”

After high school he “moved on to blast my way through a five year architectural degree in only seven years.” He co-founded an architectural firm which grew into one of the ten largest firms in the U.S. for several years.

“I’m kind of proud of that.”

Following retirement he served as Vice-President of the national board of the American Kidney Fund as well as President of the local chapter. He was President of the state chapter of an architects institute and served on the boards of local arts commissions.

“There is some other stuff but these are the highlights.”

He admitted that the best thing he did was marrying his wife.

“I loved her dearly. She was my lover, partner, confidant and best friend. If not for her, I would have been writing this many years earlier.”

Together they had two wonderful daughters. One is a physcian and the other “spends most of her time helping keep women out of prison”. About his son he pined , “He has yet to have any kids which is regrettable because the gene pool would be greatly improved by his contribution.”

“I guess all that’s left is to say goodbye to the many friends I’ve made over the last seven decades. I’ve kept up with some but lost track of many. Suffice to say that if I wasn’t dead, I’d miss them all.”

Not surprisingly, he requested that in lieu of flowers friends consider donations to two local non-profits-a soup kitchen/food bank and an organization that helps children of incarcerated parents.

assemble a "when I die" file
a screenshot from the book

How to prepare for the end

I suspect that David prepared for death in other ways besides writing his obituary. He probably wrote a will, arranged burial or cremation, and closed his social media accounts. He likely had a living will or health care proxy. He sounds like a man who navigated his life well and managed his death equally well.

Planning for death seems straight forward but there are numerous details that most of us will miss without help. That’s why I reviewed and recommend a book that walks us through the process.

The book consists of 5 sections that mimic the progression from life to illness to death. 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. The sections are

Hazards of caregiving

Chapter titles offer discussion about issues such as

  • Yes, There’s Paperwork.
  • Can I Afford to Die?
  • I’m Sick
  • Love, Sex, and Relationships
  • Hospital Hacks
  • Care for the Caregiver
  • It’s Your Body and Your Funeral
  • Grief
  • How to write a Eulogy and an Obituary
  • Celebrating a Life
REmember me-collections and keepsakes
I think David’s family has many precious memories of his life.

We should all read this book

As much as I hope you don’t need it right now, unfortunately you do need it right now. So whatever stage of living, or dying, you or a loved one may be in, you will find something helpful here.

Follow this book’s authors on Facebook

Find the book at your local library like I did, or get it from one of these book sellers; this would be a good book to keep on hand. (These affiliate links pay a commission to support this blog, while you pay nothing extra.)

exploring the HEART of life and death

I appreciate all of you who are following Watercress Words, and if you aren’t I invite you to join the wonderful people who are. You can meet some of them in the sidebar, where you can click on their image and visit their blogs. Use the form to get an email notification of new posts. Don’t worry, you won’t get anything else from me.

Dr Aletha

Living with hope, courage, and power

In her podcast Lina interviews a variety of women and men who are following their calling to make a difference in the world. In a recent episode, I was excited to hear from Jan Silvious since I reviewed one of her books here on my blog. I learned that like me Jan is married to a veteran of the Vietnam war. Jan has had a long speaking career, working with well known Bible teacher Kay Arthur and with Women of Faith and writing books.

In my early years of practice I worked with another woman physician, Mona. She and I became friends as there weren’t many women in medicine then. We both eventually left that clinic for other opportunities, but would see or hear from each other occasionally.

A couple of years ago I attended a conference for women physicians- where almost all the attendees and speakers were women, far different from my early years of practice. One of the speakers was a dynamic young woman who talked so fast you had to pay attention or else you would miss what she had to say. I think she just naturally talks fast, but also because she is so passionate about her subject.

Originally from Lebanon, Lina is a pediatric emergency doctor, Bible teacher and writer, and at that conference she was speaking on the Bible, not medicine. I wanted to meet her so I went up and introduced myself. When I told her where I lived, she said, “My aunt lives there, and she is a doctor.”

Suddenly I knew why she looked so familiar. She is Mona’s niece! I was shocked at the coincidence. I started following her on social media , reading her blog and listening to her podcasts. I especially like the podcast she started a few months ago, The Hope Podcast.

Lina AbuJamra , M.D.

“Lina AbuJamra is a Pediatric ER doctor and founder of Living with Power Ministries. Her vision is to bring hope to the world by connecting biblical answers to everyday life.

A popular Bible teacher, blogger, and conference speaker, Lina has authored several books including: ThriveStripped, and Resolved. Lina is the host of Today’s Single Christian on Moody Radio and of Morning Minutes, a daily audio devotional available on her website.

Lina’s most recent adventure has taken her back to the Middle East and her birth country, Lebanon, where she is running several projects that give hope and healing to Syrian refugees. Born in Beirut, Lebanon, Lina now calls Chicago home. She is single and a huge Packers fan, and would not survive without her iPhone. ”

Connect with Dr. Lina here-

Lina’s blog at the Living with Power website

Living with Power iPhone App

Lina’s podcast -The Hope Podcast

In her podcast Lina interviews a variety of women and men who are following their calling to make a difference in the world.

In a recent episode, I was excited to hear Lina interview author Jan Silvious since I reviewed one of her books here on my blog. I learned that like me Jan is married to a veteran of the Vietnam war. Jan has had a long speaking career, working with well known Bible teacher Kay Arthur and with Women of Faith and writing books.

Here is a link to the interview with Jan.

My review of Jan’s book

This post does contain affiliate links; purchases through them help me fund this blog and share the heart of health.


Navigating What’s Next with Confidence and Hope

By Jan Silvious

Even though Jan Silvious titled her book, Courage for the Unknown Season, we know what that season is-the season of aging and its inevitable, relentless progression toward death.

We’ve seen it, some of us are already in it, and it can be a scary place, with many unknowns other than the end. Jan refuses to let aging intimidate her, and wrote this book to help others take on our fear of aging, loss, illness, disability, and death with confidence and hope.


She starts the book with a chapter titled “Resilience”, followed soon by “Fight Fear”. She advises us “Don’t Forget to Laugh”, and to “Clean Up after Yourself”- that is, deal with our personal possessions so our family doesn’t have to when we are gone.

I like that she offers practical tips on staying healthy that she learned from a physician friend. In the chapter “Head Toward Ninety” she lists several steps to maintain wellness-exercise, get adequate sleep, eat health promoting foods ,  and pursue a healthy mind and spirit.  She writes,

“Read, stay curious, forgive, drop the bitterness, and pursue peace.”

She points us to Psalm 92 from the Bible, and suggests meditating on it to gain a “wealth of spiritual health.”

“It is good to give thanks to the Lord
And to sing praises to Your name, O Most High;
 To declare Your lovingkindness in the morning
And Your faithfulness by night,

For You, O Lord, have made me glad by what You have done,
I will sing for joy at the works of Your hands.”

Psalm 92: 1-4 (NASB)

New American Standard Bible (NASB)

Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation

Later, she takes us by the hand, without mincing words about the pain we will experience with loss, and walks us through steps to navigate “Grief and Hope”.

Jan uses examples from her life, her family, friends, and colleagues of using our later years to cherish old memories while continuing to make new ones. She doesn’t try to convince us that aging isn’t painful, but encourages us to find new ways to find joy and fulfillment when the old ways are no longer possible.

Written especially for Baby Boomers-those of us born between 1946 and 1964- Courage for the Unknown Season offers sound advice and encouragement to anyone who wants to be prepared for aging. For those younger, it will help you understand and deal with the challenges your parents and grandparents are encountering now; but stow away a copy for 10, 20, 30 or more years when you will appreciate its wisdom for your own life.

I enjoyed reading it since I have or am experiencing much of what she discusses, and her perspective validates my own. For those things I have yet to encounter, I appreciate her suggestions and warnings.

As Jan wrote,

“No matter what season you are in, there are truths that can help you approach the unknown with confidence and hope. Trust that God is the God of our season, no matter what it looks like, no matter how unknown.”

Jan Silvious

Jan Silvious is a long-time speaker, professional life coach, wife, mother, and grandmother. She is author of eleven books, including Big Girls Don’t Whine and Fool-Proofing Your Life. Jan and her husband, Charlie, live in Tennessee, and have three grown sons, two daughters-in-love, five charming grandchildren and a very bright rescued pit-bull, Rocky-Buddy.

Jan Silvious, author
Jan Silvious, author

Disclosure: I read an advance review copy of this book which I received complimentary from  Tyndale via NetGalley in return for writing a review.

Dr Aletha

%d bloggers like this: