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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“A gentle, knowledgeable guide to a fate we all share” (The Washington Post): the first and only all-encompassing action plan for the end of life.

“There is nothing wrong with you for dying,” hospice physician B.J. Miller and journalist and caregiver 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. Get advice for 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 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 detail-oriented guide to the most universal of all experiences, A Beginner’s Guide to the End is “a book that every family should have, the equivalent of Dr. Spock but for this other phase of life” (New York Times bestselling author Dr. Abraham Verghese).

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781501157165
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Publication date: 07/16/2019
Pages: 544
Sales rank: 86,166
Product dimensions: 9.10(w) x 6.00(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

BJ Miller, MD, is a hospice and palliative medicine physician who has worked in many settings—inpatient, outpatient, hospice facility, and home—and now sees patients and families at the UCSF Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center. Miller speaks all over the country and beyond on the theme of living well in the face of death. He has been profiled in The New York Times and interviewed by Oprah Winfrey, Tim Ferriss, and Krista Tippett.

Shoshana Berger is the editorial director at IDEO, where she has worked on projects ranging from the end of life to modern Judaism to school lunch. She was a senior editor at WIRED, and has written for the New York Times, Fast Company, Time, WIRED, Popular Science, Marie Claire, and Quartz. She cofounded the DIY design magazine, ReadyMade, later turning it into a book, Ready Made: How to Make (Almost) Everything.

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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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