"There is nothing wrong with you for dying," palliative care doctor B.J. Miller and Shoshana Berger write in A Beginner's Guide to the End. "Our ultimate purpose here isn't so much to help you die as it is to free up as much life as possible until you do."
Theirs is a clear-eyed and big-hearted action plan for approaching the end of life, written to help readers feel more in control of an experience that so often seems anything but controllable. Their book offers everything from step-by-step instructions for how to do your paperwork and navigate the healthcare system to answers to questions you might be afraid to ask your doctor, like whether or not sex is still okay when you're sick. You'll be walked through how to break the news to your employer, whether to share old secrets with your family, how to face friends who might not be as empathetic as you'd hoped, and to how to talk to your children about your will. (Don't worry: if anyone gets snippy, it'll likely be their spouses, not them.) There are also lessons for survivors, like how to shut down a loved one's social media accounts, clean out the house, and write a great eulogy.
An honest, surprising, and detailed-oriented guide to the most universal of all experiences, A Beginner's Guide to the End is the one book that everyone needs. (Simon & Schuster)
BJ Miller is a hospice and palliative care physician who has worked in many settings, inpatient, outpatient, and home, and now sees patients and families at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. BJ also acted as executive director for the Zen Hospice Project for five years, learning about the administration of health care and how difficult it can be for patients and families to find the care they need. He speaks all over the country and beyond on the theme of living well in the face of death. He has been featured in The New York Times and interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, Tim Ferriss, and Krista Tippett.
Shoshana Berger has worked in publishing for more than twenty years as a freelance writer, senior editor at Wired, and editor-in-chief of ReadyMade, the magazine she cofounded in 2001. She became editorial director of the global design firm IDEO in 2013, where she has worked on projects related to the end of life, modern Judaism, and school lunch. In 2018, she moved to Denmark for a year to work with the Copenhagen Institute of Interaction Design and to learn why everyone is so happy up in the Nordics. She has written for the New York Times, Wired, Travel + Leisure, Sunset, Spin, Popular Science, Marie Claire, and The San Francisco Chronicle. She has spoken about how to redesign our experience of death at Creative Mornings and Slush.
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