Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons: Field notes from The Death Dialogues Project #NewRelease #Self-Help @MotinaBooks

I am pleased to have a new author visit my blog today with a non-fiction self-help book on death and dying. While it’s not a subject we like to talk about, it’s an unavoidable reality and her book offers some insight. Welcome, Becky!


Thank you, Jan, for inviting me here to talk about my new book. I appreciate your generosity.

I spent my pandemic writing about all things death.

Although I had interfaced with death throughout my personal and professional life, everything changed when my dear soul-connect brother died of brain cancer in January of 2017. At that time my 94-year-old mother lived with us and was on her end-of-life trajectory, experiencing a truly magical, mindful death nine months later in our home in New Zealand.

Always one to tell me the stories of how things were done in the “olden days,” my mother had repeated throughout my life that she felt an unease with how death had become such a business in the US. When my father died in 1983, she had been aghast at the price tag involved. Just bury me in a cardboard box became my mother’s mantra when conversations surrounding death arose.

Throughout his life, my brother had an affinity for simple practicalities: growing his own food, following his heart rather than trends, a pull to the simple ways of our ancestors. The youngest of my three older brothers, he was seven years older than me. Growing up in a violent household, he’d been my anchor and when I finally fled, into my own young adult life, he was my savior. We knew each other in a way only foxhole companions with a loving, protective bond could.

The true turning point of my relationship with death was how we handled my brother’s death differently, which was an immensely healing process but didn’t negate the gut-wrenching heartache that comes with the death of someone you love so deeply.

Receiving the final phone call from his wife, signaling a stark turn, I mentioned that if he died before I got there to remember, death isn’t an emergency and there can be some tender time with his body before calling any services. I arrived a week before he died. After his death, we kept him home with us for three days for some love-filled family connection time of honoring the beautiful person he was to us all.

Upon my return to New Zealand, my mother put in the request for the same care. Per her wishes, she never darkened the door of a funeral home.

Something awakened within me and I felt my social activist deceased brother whispering in my ear: Beck, you need to let “Death” out of the closet.

There were times I’ve felt my heart has been ripped out of my body after their deaths, but the legacy of the love for my family lives on in The Death Dialogues Project and Podcast’s work.

Writing Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons felt as if I opened myself to the task and the words and chapters arrived, almost effortlessly. Maybe it was my years of working with people surrounding death in my professional life. Or just maybe it was a continued whisper in my ear from the beyond. My hope is that it lands gently with you.

It’s Time to Invite Death Out of the Closet!

Courtesy Motina Books

The impending or actual death of someone close to you can be devastating. It doesn’t matter if you knew it was coming, or if it was a total shock-you’ll never be the same. There is no right way to grieve, and no appropriate time frame. It’s different for everyone.

Many do not realize we now have choices surrounding our deaths and how our bodies are treated. Similar to birth being brought back into the home, there has been a wave of people doing the same with death, creating moving and personal experiences at the dying time and in the aftermath. Like home birth, it may not be for everyone, but aren’t we better humans for understanding the terrain?

With this project’s aim of promoting death literacy, you will find stories and commentary surrounding death and end-of-life choices (such as having a loved one’s body at home).

It’s time to take these historically “hush-hush” conversations out into the open. We all experience death and loss in our lives, and we should be talking about it.

Embrace the beautiful-horrible full spectrum of your life. Here you will also find resources and a community where you can further explore or seek support as you continue your journey.

This book will gently hold you as you increase your awareness and comfort surrounding death and is a perfect offering to others at those times when there are no words.

6. Available wherever books are sold: Amazon

An indie choice I like to support:

7. Media links:

About the Author:

After .a career in human services, beginning with nursing and ending after decades as a holistic mental health clinician and educator, Becky retired from her life’s professional work as an LCPC in 2016. Some of the most rewarding work was providing Dignity Therapy for people at the end of their lives.

Following the rapid-fire deaths of her lifelong soul connects, facilitating in-home death care and vigil, came a whisper to facilitate inviting Death out of the closet.

A passionate advocate for choice surrounding end of life and normalizing conversations surrounding death, Becky feels strongly that listening to the stories and experiences of others is our greatest teacher.

Based on interviews and witnessed experiences, The Death Dialogues Project has used stage productions, presentations, a podcast, and interfacing with communities through social media.

People from all walks of life––death-workers, grievers, seekers–– are giving lovely feedback about how this book is deeply touching them.

From the very first sentence of this luminous book, filled with hard and tender truths, Becky Aud-Jennison takes the reader by the hand: ‘See, death isn’t so awful. You don’t have to be afraid. Let’s explore the its hills and valleys together.’ This book of ‘conversations you might not find elsewhere’ is a precious gem. Thank you, Becky Aud-Jennison for generously sharing the work of your heart and soul. I now have the perfect gift to give anyone who is grieving, facing death, or walking the razor’s edge between this world and the next. This compassion-filled book is a gift and a treasure.

—Laura Davis, bestselling author of “The Burning Light of Two Stars” and “The Courage to Heal”

In her transformative book Death and Its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons, Becky Aud-Jennison takes our hand and walks us into the beautiful, horrible realm of dying and grief. Through the wisdom she has garnered from her own losses and from the stories of the Death Dialogues Project, Becky shows us that the awe-full journey of grief is unique to each person but is ultimately traveled by everyone. Read this marvelous book to discover that Death is the ultimate maker of change and meaning in life and to embrace both the beauty and the pain of this human existence.

––Karen Wyatt MD, author of “7 Lessons for Living from the Dying”

Having my lost father when I was eight years old and then never dealing with that grief, Becky’s book feels like the book I wish I’d had as a child. I can’t go back in time so I’ll read it again and again and give it to anyone I know who may need it. Which is to say: all humans.

—Jennifer Pastiloff, bestselling author of “ON BEING HUMAN”

50 thoughts on “Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons: Field notes from The Death Dialogues Project #NewRelease #Self-Help @MotinaBooks

  1. I think a book like this is long overdue. Back in the nineteenth and early 20th centuries, when extended families often lived together, or close by, there was a greater acceptance of death. By this I mean that when a Grandparent died, often they were living with their children, grandchildren, and as per normal, the grandparents often passed first. The funerals were often held in homes with the body remaining in the living room for a day or two. We have sterilized life to the point that death is no longer viewed as a natural part of life. Kudos to Becky, for taking on this challenging topic. Thanks for hosting, Jan.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks so much Mark. Being raised by a mother born in 1922 I heard many stories surrounding doing birth and death more personally. It was what she always wanted and it was an honor to be able to give her that final gift. This book unpacks varying types of grief– the lead up and the aftermath of death sprinkled with a bit of magic as well. I do think it has a place in the world as a gentle, supportive primer for all things death. I appreciate your kind words.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. The passing of my father and mother, separately, during my childhood happened so long ago that it comes to mind only rarely. Except when, in conversation, I mention to someone how I learned of her death. It’s only a decade ago that a family dog passed on. That offered a warning of how much pain I will experience with the loss of a loved person in the future.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Losing one we love is never easy, whether animal or human. I think Becky’s book has shed a light on some ways to handle that pain. Thank you for stopping by, John!


    2. I hear you. Anticipatory grief shows up in waves throughout our lives. I’m familiar what you are describing. Thanks for the poignant comment.


  3. Hi Jan, thank you for this introduction to Becky and her book. I have not as yet had to deal with the death of a loved one, although my sons have had near encounters a few times which was bad enough. This book sounds like it contains helpful information for someone managing grief.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you for stopping by, Robbie. You are a very blessed woman not to have had to deal with a close death yet. I agree that this book sounds like a helpful tool for that inevitable event. Have a great weekend!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. Thanks for your comment Robbie. I know other folks in your situation, with death having missed them for most of their lives. I do think this book is helpful no matter where you are in the process. As I recently learned with my husband’s near death, we will never be fully emotionally prepared, but I see– even more– how much more helpful it is to be fluent in all things death and grief when the time comes. Our emotions will have their way with us and make planning and problem solving a challenge if we haven’t processed it some beforehand. Thanks for checking in!


  4. In college, I took a class called Death and Dying. It made an impression about the importance of addressing many of these issues instead of guessing what your loved ones would have wanted. My parents (since passed) had all of their wishes spelled out ahead of time which made things much easier on the family. They had even written partial obituaries that helped with particulars we hadn’t known. Congratulations to Becky for writing a book that should help many people.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. That sounds like a very helpful class, Pete. We shouldn’t be afraid to talk about dying. It is a part of life and it is important that our loved ones know our wishes. How wonderful that your parents did so much of the planning ahead. As you say, it makes it all so much easier. Thank you for stopping by.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m thrilled you had an effective class. Even as therapists our training was very minimal surrounding death and grief. I believe because our emotional responses are so very individual and the fact many “teachers” struggle with their own experiences and thoughts surrounding death it’s a challenging area. That’s great that your parents were so involved in their planning. Everyone I’ve spoken with that has had that experience of their loved ones spelling out their wishes speaks of feeling the love and care from their deceased loved one, knowing they were following their wishes and that they took that care to support the aftermath. It certainly is a loving gesture, beyond the immense practicality and so many missed unnecessary headaches. I could write a book on stories I’ve heard about those trying to follow post-death breadcrumbs and it only heightens the trauma of it all. Thanks for your kind thoughts! All best, Becky

      Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you! It can be the beautiful-horrible. Hopefully after reading the book that thought will make more sense to people. All best. Becky


    1. I agree, Jill. It’s nice to know there are options. Funerals are so expensive! The deceased person would not want his/her family to go into debt just to bury them. Personally, I choose cremation and it’s already paid for. Thanks for stopping by!

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I’m sure you have a unique perspective Jill. Since the book largely speaks of the aftermath of death and varying emotional terrain, I’m hoping funeral homes might consider it as a gift for their clientele. — B

      Liked by 2 people

  5. We tend not to think about death much when we are young – after all, we’re going to live forever! However, death creeps into our thoughts as we get to middle age and face our own mortality. In the midst of life there is death.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You are so right. I think that was unusual for me. I was face to face with death many times in my childhood, including deaths of children, so I never had that blissed out denial space that some of my peers did. Going right into it with my career while continuing to have death show up personally surely has been instrumental in the motivation of this mission. I’m totally blown away when I speak with people who were never really around death. That was my husband, until his work as a doctor. He’s quite the death literacy champion as well.

      Liked by 2 people

      1. I wasn’t around death until the age of 19 when my father and grandmother died. My mum once told me that she had a childhood friend when she was around 7 or 8. After a while her friend stopped coming out to play. One day my grandmother told her that she was taking her to see her friend. Mum said that she walked into her friend’s front room where the little girl was laid out in a coffin in her best party dress. Mum never forgot the shock of it.


  6. Your story of how your book evolved into being touched a core I am certain other readers identified with as well. The grief that begins with the loss of a loved one ~ and forever your life is changed. Thank you for sharing this with us.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Aw thanks so much for your supportive comments and your purchase. Would love to hear your thoughts. I hope it holds you gently while also proving supportively informative. Many thanks– Becky

      Liked by 2 people

    1. I love that you are thinking about it for yourself. Well done you. After my husband’s recent brush with death it was a reminder that unless we are fully literate and have processed and planned surrounding our final wishes before hand, our traumatized, grieving brain will have difficulty sorting through any alternative type planning at the time.

      Liked by 1 person

  7. Death is hard enough without the hefty and unnecessary price tags associated with it. This sounds like she was truly inspired to shine a light on alternatives, though I’m sorry about the losses she suffered that led her to this book. Wishing her all the best.

    Thanks for sharing, Jan.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. This sounds like a book all families should have. My family has had many death conversations, even though we are all fairly healthy. You never know when it’s your time to go. It’s not a taboo topic in our households. We freely express what we want and don’t want when that time comes, and we agree to honor the others’ wishes when it’s their time to transition to the thereafter. Kudos to Becky for shining light on what many consider a dark topic. Thanks for sharing her book with us today, Jan! 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think healthy conversations about death are necessary for families. And to know exactly what each one’s wishes are is helpful when the time comes. Thank you for stopping by and leaving a comment today, Yvette.

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I absolutely agree that it’s a read all families should have. Well done to you and your family for having the conversations that so many hide from. This also covers the varying faces of grief, that aren’t always spoken of, as witnessed through people I’ve spoken with, witnessed and my own. I appreciate your kind thoughts. — Becky

      Liked by 2 people

  9. A close friend just lost her husband. It was a sudden, unexpected death, and she is desperately trying to make sense of it all. Thank you for sharing Becky’s book, Jan. It is timely and perhaps can help my friend during this difficult time.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My heart goes out to your friend, Gwen. I’ve often thought about which is harder, losing a loved one suddenly, or over a long period of time. Neither is easy. I hope your friend finds comfort in Becky’s book. Thank you for stopping by!


    2. Hello Gwen, Already there have been countless messages of folks buying the book as a gift after a death. It does hava a place at those times “there are now words” and the cover itself seems to bring an exhale. Thanks for considering sharing it. — Becky

      Liked by 1 person

  10. Definitely a hard subject to tackle. I’m sorry for the losses Becky suffered but glad she found a path to healing and a way to help others. Wishing her all the best. Thanks for sharing, Jan!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree, Mae. It is a tough subject. I haven’t read Becky’s book, but I am sure it has lots of helpful tips from her own experiences. Thank you for stopping by to help support her!

      Liked by 1 person

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