Hamilton Herald Masthead


Front Page - Friday, August 6, 2021

Book review: Authors offer better way to write your final chapter

Imagine leaving work one night this week. For good.

No more 9-to-5s, no more waiting for that important document or email. No more Mondays, managers or meetings because you’ll be dead and you won’t sweat those things anymore.

Imagine it, because everybody dies and so will you. “We All Know How This Ends.” by Anna Lyons & Louise Winter gives us a vehicle to talk about it?

We should, Lyons and Winter say, because we don’t talk about death nearly enough, and certainly not in the right way. We skitter around the subject, using euphemisms, trying to be polite when the truth is that nobody “lost their battle” or “just gave up” or “passed away.”

Nope. “Nature did her job,” and someone died.

There’s no shame in it, the authors say, and to make sure, they “joined forces several years ago.” Lyons is an end-of-life doula, and Winter is “a progressive funeral director.” They’re “the team behind Life. Death. Whatever,” an organization to help people learn how to talk about death, grief, funerals, dying and life.

An end-of-life doula is similar to a birth doula, but Lyons works at goodbyes rather than hellos. She helps ensure that a person’s last days of life are spent “living right up to their very last breath...” and she offers support to the dying person’s family and friends. She also helps people communicate better when someone is dying.

Winter, “a progressive funeral director,” says she does what a regular funeral director does but with “an unconventional approach” that helps families and friends to bid adieu to the deceased in a way that makes the most sense to everyone involved. She encourages readers to ask questions and to personalize funerals for their loved ones, as well as for mourners.

And as to why she became a funeral director, she says, “I wanted to do something with my life. I didn’t want something to do. This was it.”

In a way, “We All Know How This Ends.” is a bit of a mess. It’s loosely organized into two halves, loosely being emphasized, and you’ll be very, very glad there’s a table of contents. Add in a number of guest-written chapters that feel somewhat common-sensical and repetitious, and you might be tempted to just pick and choose what you read.

And yay. That’s what makes this book worth having.

Authors Anna Lyons & Louise Winter explain first what they do and how a reader can follow them in their respective jobs. From there, the advice fans out to the physical and the emotional from how to choose where to die, to deciding if you want to witness the cremation. The authors offer their counsel in a way that’s calm but to-the-point, non-technical but not disrespectful to a reader’s senses.

Be aware that this book is informative, rather than soft-pillow-and-a-hug comforting. It’s real and it’s straightforward, and if that’s what’ll make you feel better, or if you’re looking for a new job, “We All Know How This Ends.” is good.

Terri Schlichenmeyer’s reviews of business books are read in more than 260 publications in the U.S. and Canada.