The Art of Dying Well

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 25 Feb 2019

Member Reviews

I personally couldn't get into this book, but I think that's partially because it's not geared towards me (a healthy 30s-something woman in a different life stage). I do think Butler gives really good advice for older or terminally ill people, and shows the importance of planning ahead for aging and death. She also illuminates aspects of the medical industry that I think an average person hasn't considered and truly needs to before getting to the point where decisions are taken our of their hands.
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Read The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life by Katy Butler if you’re going to die. Read it if you have aging parents or friends, to help guide them on the inevitable journey toward death. Read it if you have children, to prepare your dying so that they don’t have to make decisions that you can make. Read this book if you want practical tips on how to live better now so that you die better when it’s your time. Read this book if you don’t want to die in an Intensive Care Unit, with a tube down your throat so that you can’t say your last words. Read this book if you want a Good Death for yourself and those whom you love.
Butler offers, “a compass and the beginnings of a map” on how to die well, a practice that our ancestors knew well how to do. In past times (as well as in some parts of the world today) people were familiar with death, prior to the medicalization of illness. Until recently, most people died at home, not in hospitals. Life was not prolonged by medical interventions. And if they were lucky, the dying weren’t in excruciating pain, but at home in their own beds, tended to by family. And while most of us say we want to die that way, today, in America, two thirds of us die in nursing homes, institutions, and hospitals.
This book provides ways in which we can reclaim our aging and our dying so that when it comes, we are closer to having a good death. Butler, interviewing hundreds of people, has divided her book into sections:
Slowing Down
Awareness of Mortality
House of Cards
Preparing for a Good Death 
Active Dying
And the conclusion, Toward a New Art of Dying.
Each section begins with a list of how to recognize where you (or your loved one) fit on the journey. For example, Resilience starts with “You easily blow out the candles on your fiftieth or sixtieth birthday cake,” and details how to use this time to bolster your physical, mental and spiritual health. At each stage, Butler offers anecdotes of people, suggestions, and concrete things to do. Along the way, the reader is comforted by tangible steps to take to make the inevitable end better. 
The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life details clearly our choices along the way that can enhance our chances to have a good death. Butler raises topics such as when to have and not have surgeries, the pros and cons of interventions, and when to consider calling hospice. She suggests ways to stave off loneliness, to create habits now that will serve us for the remainder of our days, and the benefits of preparing for death.
Because we all will die, and The Art of Dying Well: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life is a book that we all should read. And please read it NOW, because you are going to die, and there is a lot that you can do, no matter your age or the condition of your health, to try to assure a good ending to your life. 
(I received this book from the publisher with a promise to write a fair and unbiased review.)
Katie Amatruda, PsyD, MFT, BCETS
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This book is perfect for individuals or family members of individuals who are terminally ill. It provides multiple sections of what individuals may need to do in preparation and how to emotionally accept the outcomes separated by severity or stage of illness.
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I really wanted to like this book because it is an important subject and I wanted to have a title to recommend, but a lot of the advice (find a doctor that listens to you!)  is the sort of thing that people know they should do but don't  know how to, and this wasn't much help.
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