The chapters on relationships prove especially strong, offering clear-eyed, forward-thinking insights on handling conflict, offering apologies, and enacting forgiveness so that we might “finish well.” Noting that “family conflicts are the biggest threat to estate planning,” and never downplaying the truth that these conversations are difficult, Kim advocates for mediation, persuasively demonstrating that it “helps to have help.” Prudently chosen evidence and citations lend credence to her arguments, and intimate anecdotes pulled from Best’s own experiences as an RN give the material some narrative power: “As I sat with this woman during her last moments of life, I looked at her, and I was struck by the realization that life is like a book,” she writes. Best urges us to consider our life in such terms, and take control of how we want to write the story.
Even in the face of death, Kim’s tone is hopeful. This inviting, inclusive book, crafted to appeal to anyone facing the most universal of challenges, insists that much undue end-of-life suffering is avoidable, and that few relationships are too broken to be fixed before the end. “As long as we have breath,” Best writes, “there is still time to change our course.”
Takeaway: This inviting guide offers universal, insightful lessons on the difficult subject of ending a life well.
Great for fans of: Kathy Butler’s Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Sherwin B. Nuland’s How We Die: Reflections of Life's Final Chapter.
Design and typography: A
Marketing copy: A
A debut self-help book offers suggestions for practical and emotional end-of-life planning.
In this manual, Best draws on her experiences working as both a nurse and a mediator as well as on lessons learned from
her own relatives’ end-of-life processes to guide readers through establishing wills, making health care plans, and telling
their stories to loved ones. In concise chapters, the author explains each topic, provides examples, and presents readers
with a step-by-step checklist of items to discuss and consider. While the volume spends some time on concrete legal and
financial aspects of end-of-life planning, Best generally takes a holistic view, encouraging readers to make the most of
relationships, think about how they wish to be remembered, and figure out what kind of rituals they would like survivors
to commemorate them with. The author urges readers to accept the idea of death and position themselves to meet it as
productively and positively as possible, giving and receiving forgiveness when necessary in order to end relationships on
the best note. Best’s explanations of technical terms are clear and easy to follow (“Supported decision-making
recognizes, respects, and protects your right to make choices for as long as you are able”), and the book’s tone is
supportive and comforting, an appropriate fit for the subject matter. The anecdotes that appear throughout provide solid
examples of the advantages of planning in advance, demonstrating how an estate can languish in probate if its disposition
is not arranged ahead of time, and showing how a person who leaves instructions for a positive celebration of life instead
of a funeral can leave friends and family with a sense of love and appreciation rather than sadness. The manual’s dictum
to “think about our lives as stories” delivers a unique angle on developing an understanding of a full and well-lived life
as well as a sense of structure that may be valuable to readers in plotting their own trajectories. Best also recommends
several works that the audience may find useful, particularly Atul Gawande’s Being Mortal. In addition, the book
includes helpful references and a bibliography.
A thoughtful and readable guide to making crucial death arrangements and estate decisions