A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death

A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death

by BJ Miller, Shoshana Berger


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The first ever practical, compassionate, and comprehensive guide to dying—and living fully until you do.

“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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501157165
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 07/16/2019
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 16,069
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

BJ Miller, MD, is an assistant clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco where he practices and teaches palliative medicine. He has been profiled in The New York Times Magazine, and interviewed on Super Soul Sunday, The Tim Ferriss Show, and On Being with Krista Tippett, and has spoken at the Aspen Ideas Festival and around the world. He is the author, with Shoshana Berger, of A Beginner’s Guide to the End.

Shoshana Berger is the editorial director of the global design firm IDEO and formerly the cofounder and editor-in-chief of ReadyMade magazine. She has written for The New York Times, Wired, Popular Science, SPIN, and Marie Claire. She is the author of ReadyMade: How to Make [Almost] Everything: A Do-It-Yourself Primer and, with BJ Miller, of A Beginner’s Guide to the End.

Read an Excerpt

A Beginner’s Guide to the End

  • Table of Contents

    Introduction: This Is Not Life Interrupted. This Is Life xi

    Planning Ahead 1

    1 Don't Leave a Mess 3

    2 Leave a Mark 15

    3 Yes, There's Paperwork 29

    4 Can I Afford to Die? 69

    Dealing with Illness 83

    5 I'm Sick 85

    6 Taking Stock 95

    7 Now What? 107

    8 Coping 129

    9 Breaking the News 151

    10 Love, Sex, and Relationships 167

    Help Along the Way 185

    11 Dynamic Duo: Hospice and Palliative Care 187

    12 Symptoms 101 215

    13 Hospital Hacks 247

    14 Help! I Need Somebody 285

    15 Care for the Caregiver 305

    16 Everyone Dies: How to Talk to Kids 321

    When Death is Close 337

    17 It's Your Body and Your Funeral 339

    18 Can I Choose to Die? 365

    19 Final Days 381

    After 401

    20 The First 24 Hours 403

    21 Grief 419

    22 How to Write a Eulogy and an Obituary 433

    23 Celebrating a Life 449

    24 What's Left 463

    Last Words 475

    Acknowledgments 477

    Resources 481

    Notes 503

    Index 505

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    A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
    cindyrnet 3 months ago
    Initially I expected this book to be for a person who had discovered they were terminal. Kind of a 'How to Proceed" manual. And it is in some ways. But it is also about how to find help with daily living, meals, income, medications...and how to plan for things like your funeral, how you will want your things disposed of after you are gone. There are a great number of tips in this gold mine of a book. One that made me think" Why didn't I think of that " was..get rid of what you don't want your kids to see.....like your sex toys.....REALLY got me thinking about all we collect in a lifetime that maybe others don't know about us...Maybe we want it to be that way for a reason. So, maybe we should find those lost love letters we cherish from our 7th grade beau and that our spouse may not see the same way? There are tips about funerals, caskets, services. Wills, POAs, DNR, Living Wills. It also has tips for the person left behind after you go. I highly recommend this book for anyone over 50. Dying or not.