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Reviewed by Lorraine Cobcroft for Readers' Favorite
The death of a parent is, for most of us, one of life’s major challenges. In a moving and beautifully written tribute to her late father, Lisa J Shultz’s A Chance to Say Goodbye drives home the importance of accepting the inevitability of death, and sensibly and lovingly preparing both for the loss of a loved one, and for our own eventual departure from this world. She reminds us that we need to come to terms with our own mortality. If we will leave children or other loved ones behind, we should, ideally, consider the issues our death will create for them. Discussing "good" and "bad" deaths, Lisa recognizes that our medical and care professionals focus too much on sustaining life, even when there is nothing left worth sustaining. Hopefully, stories like hers, and the wisdom of the professionals she quotes, will help us to soon come to an understanding that extending life beyond the point where it becomes unacceptably tiresome benefits nobody – least of all the society on which this practice imposes such enormous costs for end of life care. We would benefit both the dying and the bereaved by supporting a good and timely death, and by opening frank discussions with the dying that prepare both them and those they will leave behind.
I found myself completely absorbed for the first half of Lisa’s story. She effectively connected with me through her reflections on the grieving process and her sound advice on preparing for our own departure. I finished reading A Chance to Say Goodbye with much to contemplate. I closed the book feeling powerfully driven to mimic Lisa J Shultz’s resolve to prepare for a death that, rather than heavily burdening my loved ones, will allow them to peacefully accept, joyfully reflect, and quickly restore themselves and move on. An enjoyable and thought-provoking read, A Chance to Say Goodbye is much more than a memoir, and much more than Reflections on Losing a Parent. It's a wise and inspiring guide to living. I highly recommend it for anyone at risk of losing, or leaving, someone they love.