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!
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: https://bookshop.org/books/death-and-its-terrible-horrible-no-good-very-beautiful-lessons-field-notes-from-the-death-dialogues-project/9781945060359
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”
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