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Dying: A Book of Comfort
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My Words are Gonna Linger
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"A beautifully crafted collection of life-affirming passages from more than forty celebrated writers, thinkers, and religious voices of various faiths. These voices combine to speak eloquently to the heart of the reader about the nature of dying, and offer a way to provide words of Comfort for those who remain behind."
~ Ted Menten, author of the excellent book Gentle Closings
“...about dying and grief, yes, but more importantly, it is a book about understanding and healing. The deep truths and exquisite beauty will bring solace to many grieving hearts. A gem to be treasured.”
~ Rabbi Earl Grollman, author of Living When a Loved One Has Died
“A friend gave me a copy of Dying: A Book of Comfort when my son-in-law died. I passed it on to my grieving daughter, bought a copy for myself, and then bought five more copies, so I would have something meaningful and healing to give to friends who were facing their own or others’ deaths. We never know when death will come to those we love. This valuable resource deserves a place on everyone’s shelf as a compendium of thoughtful reflections — by famous and lesser-known writers — that affirm life even as they help us cope with death.”
~ Sally Wendkos Olds, co-author of Human Development
I was originally asked to do this book by Barbara Greenman, editor of Doubleday's Literary Guild book club. Her long-time friend was dying and she wanted to know how best to help--wanted something positive. My experience helping my father when he was dying from lung cancer had made me realize that there was little help available for people trying to do this on their own. Hospices are wonderful, in my personal experience, but they aren't there late at night when you're on your own and flying blind. So this project was a labor of love for both Barbara and me.
Nobody teaches us how to die, or how to help someone die; nor how to grieve, or how best to help the grieving. My emphasis in collecting material for this anthology was on the emotional, not the practical, aspects of death and grieving. I looked for selections that offer meaningful insights and experiences, comforting words and stories, some guidance, much reassurance.
This is not a how-to book, but I chose selections around several basic themes: the intensity with which life is experienced by people who are dying (and those who help them die), what it is like (emotionally) to die, how to help someone die, how to say good-bye,what to expect from grief, and how to console the bereaved. There are special sections on mourning the death of a parent, the death of a child, a death by suicide, or a violent, unexpected death. There are selections about near-death experiences, about life after death, and about life and death. There are prayers from many faiths as well as selections to comfort those with no religious faith. There are also selections suitable for reading at funerals and memorial services. All of the selections are short, because people who are grieving (including people who are dying) are often unable to concentrate on anything long.
This book was first published as a Literary Guild original, in an edition so lovely that both Barbara and the art director felt that of all the books they had worked on, this was the one they were proudest of. (You can't imagine how rare an experience this is for an author.) The Guild edition was not available in bookstores. Warner Books brought out a trade paperback edition, which was available in bookstores, and which adapted the original Guild design to a slightly larger format.
Frankly, although the book was fine in its paperback format, it wasn't as perfect a gift book, and as my Warner editor pointed out, Warner did not specialize in "backlist" titles (those that sell quietly, year after year). When the Warner edition went out of print, the Guild agreed to print a special edition, because I was getting e-mails of frustration from people who were used to buying copies of the book to have on hand for when a friend experienced a death in the family. I am happy to report that the original Guild hardcover edition, with the lovely jacket (a soft yellow matte finish, with a small shining work of art, a bridge across water, center front), is now available again. The content is the same in both books. I have copies of both the paperback and the Guild hardcover for sale, but personally, I prefer the Guild edition. The paperback for sale on Amazon is a print on demand edition, which is not as nice as the original paperback, much less the hardcover for sale here.
The cover art is The White Bridge by John Henry Twachtman, courtesy of the Minneapolis Institute of Arts.
(healing words on loss and grief)
“This remarkable collection, coming from personal experience and wide reading, will help many
find the potential of growth through loss.” ~ Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the hospice movement
in Washingtonian magazine
“This remarkable collection, coming from personal experience and wide reading, will help many find the potential of growth through loss.” ~ Dame Cicely Saunders, founder of the hospice movement
"This is a wonderful gift book — better than flowers because it lasts longer. Once the company is gone and you're alone with your grief, the book is there to stay — and it's a great source of comfort."
~ Maggie Hudak
Buy 5 or more copies and we cover the costs of Priority Mailing (only in the United States). Save 23%.
“I travel around the country presenting programs on grief, loss, and working with dying patients and their families. It was a stroke of luck that led to my purchase of Pat McNees's book. Dying, A Book of Comfort has become more than just another book in my library. It has become a companion, a vehicle for bringing others into touch with the broad range of emotions that make up the process of grief. I tell my audiences that if they can only buy one book this season, it should be Dying, A Book of Comfort. For those of us who are called upon to impart words of healing and consolation, this wonderful collection will become the vehicle for instilling hope and understanding in those who seek our support. On a personal level, it is the book I keep at my bedside. It is the book to which I turn in my own moments of darkness.”
~ Judith A. Skretny, Life Transitions Center, educator for the American Academy of Bereavement
"This is a special gem of a resource for those contending with dying,death, and bereavement. Through its expertly chosen material, Dying, A Book of Comfort informs, guides, and gently enables healthy grief and mourning. I recommend it heartily.
~ Therese A. Rando, author of
How to Go On Living
When Someone You Love Dies
“The subject of death is so rife with terror that it takes a calm and sure hand like Pat McNees’s to soothe, help us understand, and finally, rejoice in life. This is an important and very dear book.”
~ Sherry Suib Cohen, author of
Secrets of a Very Happy Marriage
“A remarkable collection (331 pages) of quotations of comfort.”
~ Ernest Morgan, Dealing Creatively with Death
“Seldom have I read a book that exudes such comfort, such an embrace of genuine insight, care and support....The book’s gift, and it is a rich treasure for the reader, is that it embraces who we are.... The book can be read cover to cover, or just pick out a page. Something will leap off the page, a story, a quote, a reading, narrative couplings of diverse themes colorfully worded by the author/scribe, to give you the needed word or embrace....This book needs wide circulation. The bereaved deserve this, and the book will help all of us.”
~ Rev. Richard B. Gilbert, director, World Pastoral Care Center, in Resources Hotline
"For those who face the lonely reality of death, this book provides understanding and much-needed solace."
~ Claire Berman, author of Caring for Yourself While Caring for Your Aging Parents
“McNees has provided a remarkable anthology of insights, comforting words, stories, reassurance, and guidance for the journey of dying and grieving. Fourteen chapters delve artfully and compassionately into a full range of dying, death, and bereavement topics. An index by author ‘Names’ and another by ‘Titles and Selected First Lines’ make it possible to return and savor the many rich offerings she has gathered.”
~ Rev. Paul A. Metzler, The Center for Living with Loss, in newsletter, Association for Death Education and Counseling
"Dying, A Book of Comfort is THE book to press into the hands of those you love, read out loud in the company of others, and reflect on after they have all gone home. Pat McNees gently guides us as we reluctantly explore the far side of forever."
~ Lynne Lamberg, author of The Body Clock Guide to Better Health