Advice for Future Corpses by Sallie Tisdale
Those who know someone who is dying, or those who may die themselves one day.
In a nutshell:
Palliative care nurse Sallie Tisdale offers thoughts on both the reality of accepting (or at least acknowledging) one’s own mortality while also providing seriously practical suggestions and examples for what to expect.
“Our image of Grandpa at home in his own bed assumes that Grandpa likes his bed, that his house is safe and quiet, and that he really wants his relatives to take care of his most personal needs.”
“Sick people need to not be sick people all the time. They are also plumbers, parents, students, friends, chess players.”
Why I chose it:
Old habits die (heh) hard. I used to do planning related to death in my old job and I still find it interesting.
What happens as one dies? Not after, but before and during? And what can those of us who are supporting those people do (or not do) to make that experience less scary?
Tisdale’s book is not exactly a road map, and it is not really a memoir, either. She does use some stories to illustrate points (the experiences of three people she knows who have died are shared in different chapters), but this is not a book on the wisdom of those who are near death. No, instead it’s a mixture of how to confront one’s own mortality as well as observations from someone who has been with those who are dying and knows what to do (and what not to do).
The book follows essentially the path of death from illness, including chapters on what to do with the remains and what grief may be like. I think the most valuable chapter is the one on communication, full of dos and don’ts (mostly don’ts). If you haven’t been close to someone who is seriously ill, it’s likely you don’t know how you’ll react or what is appropriate to ask, say, or do, and this book provides some suggestions on that front.
At times this book had me confronting my own mortality; at other times it had me thinking about the mortality of those I love (especially those who are much older than me). I think it’s useful reading, and I’ll be keeping it around until I’ll need it.
Keep it / Pass to a Friend / Donate it / Toss it: