Review: “The Most Important Day Of Your Life: Are You Ready?”
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.
Last month, Maria Dancing Heart was kind enough to send me a copy of her new book, “The Most Important Day of Your Life: Are You Ready” and to offer her my thoughts after I had read it. I was very honored to be asked.
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 bed The Most Important Day of Your Life: Are You Ready?without any trouble.
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 reasons.
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:
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
By the staff at Assisted Living Directory