The Art of DyingPosted: 2016/02/26
Weenolsen, Patricia. The Art of Dying: How to Leave This World with Dignity and Grace, at Peace with Yourself and Your Loved Ones. New York: St. Martin’s Press, 1996.
Reason read: February (in some circles) is Psychology Month.
Do you need to be terminally ill to read this book? I hope not. But, I would think having a terminal illness would help to read this book more effectively, especially when performing the “Meaning of Disease” exercise 40 pages in. It’s the first of many exercises surrounding the subject of terminal illness. It’s difficult to answer some of Weenolsen’s questions as a seemingly healthy person. But, back to my original question. It prompted another: how many healthy people have read this book and stored information away for when a life threatening illness eventually settles in? As it stands right now, we are all terminal, but does anyone plan (beside the hypochondriac) for a terminal illness?
This book is chock full of information but probably the biggest surprise was Weenolsen’s humor. Sometimes snarky, sometimes tongue-in-cheek, there was a lightheartedness to some of her chapters; as if humor would make the subject matter easier to swallow. [Note: in my case it did, once I identified why death made me so squirmy.]
Before reading The Art of Dying I had to wonder what prompted Weenolsen to devote her life to the subject.
Quotes that put things into perspective immediately: On the subject of dying: “We can look neither into the sun nor death directly” (p 3) and “People want to name the disease” (p 48). On the subject of letting go (in this case, a neat house): “If you’re not dust-sensitive, think of the layers as mounting thick enough to hatch something – and then to keep them around as pets” (p 66).
Author fact: Weenolsen is a psychologist who specializes in death and dying and counsels people on both.
Book trivia: As I mentioned before, I didn’t expect humor from The Art of Dying. The jokes come out of nowhere. Weenolsen has this quirky sense of humor that emerges every so often.
BookLust Twist: from More Book Lust in the chapter called “Dewey Deconstructed: 100s” (p 64).