"The Most Important Day Of Your Life: Are You Ready?"
by: David Besnette Summary: Our
review and recommendations of an important and significant book
by Maria Dancing Heart Hoaglund. "The Most Important
Day of Your Life: Are You Ready" helps us to release our fears
and awkwardness around death, and embrace fully what is actually
the last adventure of your life.
Are You Ready?
I will attempt to be as transparent as possible
- I have "known" Maria Dancing Heart Hoaglund for
the better part of this year - although we've never met in person,
we've had a number of communications this year talking about
our respective businesses and websites. We included a writeup
last year about her "Last Adventure of Life" - a wonderful
book about how to create courage around Death & Dying. You
can see the article and book here.
It can be a tricky thing to "review"
a book written by someone whose work I already admire (what
if I didn't like the book, or what if it didn't jive with my
beliefs, etc?). This wasn't the case by a longshot, I am happy
to report. I have sort of a "litmus test" that tells
me if a book is good or not: if I lose sleep - it's good. I
usually do my reading right before bedtime, and often times,
if I am reading something that doesn't really grab me, or that
isn't all that engaging, I can turn off the light, and go to
Maria's book was different - I would read a
chapter before bed, and find myself up for an hour or so afterward
thinking about it. I connected with this book deeply, for many
Maria's timing in sending me her book was interesting
- she references another book in hers called "The
Tibetan Book of Living and Dying" by Sogyal Rinpoche
- a book that I happened to be reading this summer as well,
so this subject matter was on my mind. Both books are about
accepting both life, and death, and in finding courage and discovery
in both (at least that's been one of my overall interpretations).
I had also just spent a few weeks on vacation.
I took my family, including my 5 year old son to the beach -
a special place in California where MY parents took me every
year beginning at around age 5 as well - so the significance
of having my son there was important to me. MY parents were
also there for this trip - so it was very profound having several
generations of our family present in such a special place -
which propelled me further into thinking about life...and death
- beginnings, and ends. Even more profoundly, on the beach,
while we were playing in the surf, my son looked up at me, and
out of the blue asked "Why did you pick me, and where did
I come from." As a father, that was an important moment
for both of us. I didn't know how to answer him, but it really
nudged me further into thinking more about life's big questions
like that - "Where DID we come, and also...for me...Where
are we going?"
To give a quick nod to my wonderful wife, she
had a great answer for my son by answering "Well, why did
you pick us?" My wife is wise far beyond her years...!
My son is turning out to be a deep thinker.
When I told my MY mother about this question I was just asked,
she told me that when I was small, one of my first "deep"
questions to her was "What happens when we die?"
She didn't have a good answer for me at that
time either, which made me feel better about drawing a blank
with my son.
I believe that many people, adults in particular,
unfortunately shove aside the subject of death until it is right
in front of them - and then when it is happening, they are truly
and wholly unprepared. I'm glad my son asked me that question.
It kind of stopped me in the moment, and encouraged a profound
wave of introspection to hit me.
Maria's book does a great job of removing the "taboo"
or "uncomfortable-ness" around the subject of death,
and gets us actively thinking about and preparing for when we
might be "called or welcomed back to our true Home on the
Other Side." "The Most Important Day of Your Life:
Are You Ready" reminds us of the 'true interconnectedness
of life and death.' Her book offers practical exercises to help
ourselves heal, to find peace and quiet, to acknowledge and
think about the mystical experiences of our life, to find humor
in death and dying, and much more.
While reading "The Most Important Day of
Your Life: Are You Ready" I found myself losing track of
time, laughing out loud (the "Finding Humor in Death"
joke on page 6 had me giggling for most of the day), and thinking
about my own mystical experiences with life, death and dying.
I also had to ask myself - what does this have
to do with assisted living, and why her book important to my
site's visitors? Well, the quick answer is that her book and
subject matter should be important to anyone and everyone -
assisted living or not. However, assisted living facilities
have more of a symbolism about them (at least in my view) -
the seniors and residents living in them are often times "actively
participating in the latter chapters of life" - to put
it softly. Assisted living facilities also work closely with
Hospice workers - who, at times are surely overwhelmed, and
who may not have the best answers for people who are actively
transitioning into death.
Maria's book should serve as an important resource
for any hospice counselor, assisted living worker, or any friends,
family, or relative of someone who is dying. Maria's book offers
an excellent section on page 79 - "20 Questions You've
Always Wanted to Ask a Hospice Counselor" - questions ranging
from "How to comfort someone in deep grief" to "How
to talk to people who don't believe in God or an afterlife"
to "How to talk to children about death."
Maria Dancing Heart is a teacher and a guide,
and the words in her book are honest and candid. However, Maria's
wonderful writing style seems to "soften the blow"
on such a heavy subject - making it highly enjoyable reading
on a highly sensitive and important subject matter.
Reading "The Most Important Day in Your
Life: Are You Ready?" could:
Bring more joy into your life.
Allow you to live more fully in the present (moment).
Assist you to go deeper spiritually.
Help you become a better partner and friend.
Move you to delve into the mystery and magic of life.
Help you to become a better caregiver.
Challenge you to know "who you really are!"
Allow you to move through life transitions with more grace and
Help you to help your parents and elders face the aging process.
Show you some of the best kept secret treasures of hospice.
Allow you to discover what comes after life.
Show you how to prepare to "start the conversation"
with someone you love.
As I write this review, I have 2 more chapters
to read in her book. I am taking my time - which, like an expertly
prepared meal with many courses, is necessary. I have needed
the time to taste, experience, and digest all of the complexities
and significance of what I have been reading - which, I think,
should serve as one of my highest compliments to Maria's work.
You may preview/order Maria's book "The
Most Important Day of Your Life: Are You Ready" here