We read books to help us parent well, to strengthen our marriage, to improve our careers and to manage our finances, but it seems off-putting to read a book to help us prepare for death. But Lani Leary, author of No One Has To Die Alone: Preparing for a Meaningful Death, believes that how we die matters and how we serve our loved ones as they die matters most of all. The first part of the book focuses on how family and caregivers can make a difference through illness, dying and death. The second part addresses bereavement and includes a section on the special needs of grieving children.
Leary believes in life after death but readers who are nonbelievers or who follow a different tenet of faith will still find her practical advice invaluable. Leary provides actual phrases to say in difficult situations, questions to ask your loved one and how to divide housekeeping tasks if you are fortunate enough to be part of a team. She provides an informative timeline of symptoms and signs of the months, days and hours leading up to death. Although each death is unique and unknowable, we can prepare and we can strengthen our resolve to be fully present and helpful when someone we love dies.