It’s time for another ‘The Docked Leaf’ and today we’re talking about this; it’s, ‘Do Death – For a Life Better Lived’ by Amanda Blainey. It’s short, it’s sharp, it’s accessible, and it’s a brilliant introduction if you are keen to get going with your End of Life Plan but you’re not quite sure where to start.
The Book in a Nutshell
I first read this book several months ago, although I’ve returned to it since then and there’s a really good reason for that. In many ways it is the book that I wish that I had written.
In total there are just over one hundred pages split into five main sections: ‘Before’, ‘During’, ‘After’, ‘A New Way’ and ‘Conscious Living’.
Each section is short and easily digestible. But what I particularly love is that it really gets you thinking.
The book in written in a simple way, but that’s a huge plus when it comes to talking about death and planning for it.
It’s also written sensitively, although there is no fluff or filling – Amanda makes her point succinctly and then moves on.
Two Kinds of People: Type 1
Overall, I think there are two kinds of people that this book would really suit.
The first is the kind of person who is interested in end of life planning as a concept.
They recognise it’s important and it’s something that that they would like to do but the subject matter itself is just deeply uncomfortable and they would prefer not to engage with it.
‘Do Death’ is written in such a way that it whilst it retains a sensitivity, it is neutral in its use of language and is not ‘emotional’ in conveying information in perhaps the way some might expect.
The book is not convoluted in structure and I don’t think many people (if any) would find its contents upsetting to read.
The tone it employs is very much one of, “We’re all going to die someday. There is a process that we go through, and if you want to, you can plan for that, prepare for it. And these are the things that you need to think about.”
If that message resonates with you, or somebody you know, then I would say that you’re probably someone who would receive enormous value from reading this book.
Two Kinds of People: Type 2
The second type of person likely to connect well with this book is the person who enjoys pop culture.
In addition to the main text, the book includes numerous quotes from contemporary authors, singers, actors etc, as well as using famous people as examples to highlight a particular point being made.
Using famous people in this way really gives this book a relevancy that perhaps you don’t get with other books on this subject.
So if you, or someone you know, connects to the world through film or music and pop culture is your thing, then this book may be really helpful as a door into end of life planning.
The way it is divided into the ‘Before’, ‘During’ and ‘After’ sections is useful because what this book could be described as is … a checklist.
It’s a step by step guide to ‘these are the things you need to be thinking about when it comes to end of life planning’.
In doing so, gently nudges you in the direction of having that conversation with yourself or perhaps with others.
The ’What’ vs The ‘How’
‘Do Death’ is an excellent book when it comes to discussing the ‘what’ of end of life planning but you will need to delve into the resources mentioned at the end to better understand the ‘how’ to take action.
Whilst it’s a great checklist for the things you need to be thinking about, and the questions you need to be asking, it doesn’t necessarily set out where you go to find those answers within the book itself. This is in no way a criticism, just something to be aware of.
But actually, there are so many resources out there that really get into the weeds, get into the details of what you need to do and how you can do it (hint: you’re in the right place!).
Sometimes it’s nice to take a step back, look at the bigger picture and just say, ‘Ok, where do I begin?’ ‘How do I make this process manageable?’
And that’s what this book does. The fact that it’s short, concise, tells you exactly what you need to know and then just lets you get on with it… is brilliant!
As I said, it is the book I wish I’d written. It has enormous relevancy.
The pop-culture references, I think, are extremely helpful because it grounds you in the actual process of what needs to be done and the things that need to be thought about.
And it… it gently guides you along the way. If you are someone who is on board the end of life planning train – you really want to get your plan done and you don’t know where to start – this book is it.
When it comes to end of life planning, we need more resources like this. It’s gentle. It’s accessible. It’s relevant. And I highly, highly recommend it.
Until next time, take care.