Official Review: Before Your Last Breath

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EvaDar
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Official Review: Before Your Last Breath

Post by EvaDar »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Before Your Last Breath" by Jilliana Raymond.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Physical death is not optional. It is a human inevitability that we can’t test, cheat, or buy our way out of. Our spiritual and personal experiences inform what we believe about death and how we choose to prepare for it. Jilliana Raymond, an end-of-life doula and spiritual consultant, addresses these subjects in her 2019 book Before Your Last Breath: Your Spiritual Transition and End-of-Life Planning.

Raymond’s book serves multiple functions. It is primarily a comprehensive guide to help people prepare themselves and loved ones for their death passage. The practical runs concurrently with a certain, sometimes esoteric, spiritual orientation. Raymond shares her beliefs about the afterlife, based on her work as an end-of-life doula, a non-medical support for death transitions. She has witnessed death and interviewed individuals who have had near-death experiences. Her work supports her belief that death is but “an inviting image of an awaiting spiritual life.”

Practically, the book is very complete. From medical directives and personal wishes to after-death procedures and funeral matters, Raymond covers tremendous ground. She includes important first steps to be carried out by your personal representative. Most of us will be in that position at least once, and the first time is pretty overwhelming. The final section includes state-by-state funeral costs and legal requirements as well as sample documents and useful forms.

I was impressed with this book. Raymond not only guides you through end-of-life planning; she gives you the tools. Maybe you want to direct your survivors to your passwords – or you realize a friend not known to your family would want to be notified if you died. There are forms in the book for recording these items.

Raymond encourages preparing spiritually for your own death by cleaning up unfinished business, such as apologies, thank-yous, and areas needing forgiveness. She outlines what happens as we closely approach death, using just enough detail to demonstrate what to expect if a loved one is dying. Though it’s impossible to predict, understanding some of the known markers may soothe in an angst-filled time.

I was mildly tripped up by Raymond’s characterization of the afterlife. She writes about the loving embrace that awaits, though those who have “lived on the fringe of society” or feel their lives to be unfair may experience something different. It rings strangely to be told by anyone, a priest, evangelical, atheist, or spiritual doula, a story about something that can’t possibly be predicted. I felt a bristle, thinking someone who experienced a particularly hard life might not be equally received with love.

Technically, this book is presented cleanly and professionally. The digestible sections facilitate understanding of the sometimes uncomfortable subject matter. Raymond’s editor did a fine job as I found only a few minor errors.

Having witnessed numerous death passages and settled as many family estates, I am familiar with this material. Jilliana Raymond is broadly knowledgeable about the subject matter. While the content may be challenging for people who prefer not to look at death, the author meets this with directness and sensitivity. Based on this and the impeccable presentation, I offer Before Your Last Breath 4 out of 4 stars.

It’s not uncommon for people to avoid end-of-life planning. Inadequate preparation often creates an unnecessary burden for our survivors. This comprehensive guide may make it easier to make the effort and face the inevitable. I can’t think of an adult who wouldn’t benefit from this book. Whether you are well-versed in end-of-life matters or are uncomfortable thinking about it, this book can serve as a hands-on guide or an initial introduction to the topic.

******
Before Your Last Breath
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Post by ButterscotchCherrie »

This sounds like an indispensable manual on a subject we often prefer not to think about. I agree that the implication that the afterlife is less pleasant for those who've struggled on earth is odd - and certainly at odds with any spiritual tradition I know. I enjoyed your well-written review.
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Post by SomeoneInTheWorld »

This seems like a very insightful book, that even if you don't agree with some of the things it says - for example I totally reject the idea that someone who experienced a particularly hard life might not be equally received with love - it gives you food for thought. Thank you very much for your review!
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Post by Bianka Walter »

This is the typical elephant-in-the-room book. Kudos to the author for addressing the elephant with such grace.
Love your review :)
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Post by EvaDar »

ButterscotchCherrie wrote: 23 Oct 2019, 01:48 This sounds like an indispensable manual on a subject we often prefer not to think about. I agree that the implication that the afterlife is less pleasant for those who've struggled on earth is odd - and certainly at odds with any spiritual tradition I know. I enjoyed your well-written review.
Yes, I'm always glad when I see a book like this and hope people are reading them. I almost didn't mention the afterlife issue, but it bothered me. Otherwise a really fine book. Thank you so much for stopping by!
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Post by EvaDar »

SomeoneInTheWorld wrote: 24 Oct 2019, 05:21 This seems like a very insightful book, that even if you don't agree with some of the things it says - for example I totally reject the idea that someone who experienced a particularly hard life might not be equally received with love - it gives you food for thought. Thank you very much for your review!
I actually think what the author was meaning was that if someone feels their life was unfair (whether it was a hard life or not) that can affect our afterlife - that how we perceive our lives may matter. Either way, I bristled a little. Otherwise, this is a really well-executed book. Thanks for stopping in!
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Post by EvaDar »

Bianka Walter wrote: 24 Oct 2019, 09:12 This is the typical elephant-in-the-room book. Kudos to the author for addressing the elephant with such grace.
Love your review :)
Yes, this is one of those books everyone could use. Practical on many levels. Thank you for dropping in!
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Post by MrunalT »

I think spiritual people will relate more with the book. I have read a lot about the said theme from the Hindu point of view. I am interested in seeing if this book also talks from a perspective of any religion. Comparative analysis is my primary interest. Nice review!
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Post by EvaDar »

MrunalT wrote: 26 Oct 2019, 03:25 I think spiritual people will relate more with the book. I have read a lot about the said theme from the Hindu point of view. I am interested in seeing if this book also talks from a perspective of any religion. Comparative analysis is my primary interest. Nice review!
Yes, it's both spiritual and practical in nature. Definitely worth the read! Thanks so much for coming by.
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Post by diana lowery »

While I appreciate that the author gives practical information and know that it is vital, it is too bad that it might cause some people to "bristle" as you did. Books like this should be available in every independent living and retirement home.
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Post by kdstrack »

It is in our human nature to avoid things that are painful or trouble us. This book is a good way to help people, not only think about the inevitable, but also make plans to prepare themselves and their family members. Thanks for your reflective review.
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Post by EvaDar »

diana lowery wrote: 26 Oct 2019, 15:47 While I appreciate that the author gives practical information and know that it is vital, it is too bad that it might cause some people to "bristle" as you did. Books like this should be available in every independent living and retirement home.
The bristling was momentary, but the book is solid. I agree these books need to be read. People tend to avoid the subject. Thanks for dropping by, Diana.
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Post by EvaDar »

kdstrack wrote: 02 Nov 2019, 10:23 It is in our human nature to avoid things that are painful or trouble us. This book is a good way to help people, not only think about the inevitable, but also make plans to prepare themselves and their family members. Thanks for your reflective review.
Thanks so much for dropping by. People are generally fairly naive about how important this kind of planning is.
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Post by _Poo_ »

This is no doubtly a great philosophy of life... It will help those who are very much confused in their life! Such a great thoughts!!
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