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Die Wise: A Manifesto for Sanity and Soul

4.41  ·  Rating details ·  446 ratings  ·  69 reviews
Die Wise does not offer seven steps for coping with death. It does not suggest ways to make dying easier. It pours no honey to make the medicine go down. Instead, with lyrical prose, deep wisdom, and stories from his two decades of working with dying people and their families, Stephen Jenkinson places death at the center of the page and asks us to behold it in all its pain ...more
Paperback, 368 pages
Published March 17th 2015 by North Atlantic Books
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Average rating 4.41  · 
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Feb 05, 2017 rated it liked it
(I think this will be 4 or 5 stars for many, but it's not an easy read and those who could profit most may give up early.) After 10 years of experience in so-called palliative care, and plowing through 288pp of this book, I get to what I know already. "The big revelation!" Grrr... Am I just listening to someone who likes to hear himself talk. Or am I so ignorant of my ignorance of palliative care as it is "normally" carried out? Living in California may be my advantage. To die at home and by-pas ...more
Feb 26, 2016 rated it liked it
Somewhere the author admitted that he loves words - and this book supports his passion! Some chapters flowed with intriguing stories and salient points. Other places I had to slog through. Ultimately I didn't finish the book; I applied my new strategy of accepting that I can stop reading a book that just isn't resonating with me. Perhaps I will pick it up another time. ...more
Linda Watkins
Jul 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Since we are all terminal, it seems wise to get ready for our own demise. This is an excellent book for helping us get conscious about what is coming to all of us & how we want to do it. Unlike any book of this kind that I have read before. Wish I had this when I working hospice. Well worth the read
Dean Zochert
Mar 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
As has been said, it is a book for all who, come what may, will not live forever. Probably the most important book I've ever read. It's not just about dying, though. It's about how we're living, how we have lived for decades, if not centuries, and how that has precipitated over the years to form the death-phobic culture we live in...and die in...mostly miserably. They author's style is poetic and lyrical, a master wordsmith, for certain. (I'm also listening to the audiobook at the same time, whe ...more
Christine Rausch
Mar 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Thank you Stephen! Beautifully written. All your thoughts should be common sense but, unfortunately, much of our society is definitely lacking in common sense.
Jul 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Stephen Jenkinson has been a worker in what he refers to as the "death trade" for over 20 years. It gives him a lot of experience in dealing not only with dying people but also with their family and friends, with his own thoughts and feelings about death and dying, and with cultural attitudes toward death and dying. He starts with talking about how death-phobic our society has become. It leads us to ignore and even strenuously deny that we are dying right up to the moment of the death of our bod ...more
Oct 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book was a difficult but enlightening read. The author writes beautifully about a topic we all must wrestle with while facing the death of a loved one or our own inevitable death. I think he makes some very valid criticisms of the medical community and even palliative care, however, he speaks from a wealth of experience and observations of those who are dying and their families and friends. We have a culture that fights the whole concept of death ....instead of making it a normal part of li ...more
Jennifer Padron
Mar 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Die Wise is tough to read because Jenkinson writes in such deep prose broadly. I found myself needing to read passage after passage after passage in order to feel adequately read on his thinking. Yet, the book is the best there is on anything related to Right to Die or Die with Dignity. Jenkinson's training facility in Ontaro emailed me on my query to add to the Wait List, "... there isn't going to be further training" due largely to the fact that Jenkinson's Training for Death & Dying study or ...more
A mixed bag. It’s both the best book I’ve read (as in most important message people need to hear), as well as the most annoying take on faith I don’t agree with. The middle of the book is hard to get through if you’re a Christian. It will annoy you and it should. But keep reading to the end and you will find your reward.

Society needs to hear this. There is a such a thing as dying wise and dying well and we aren’t doing it. It’s a toxic thing in our culture, not knowing how to die well, not knowi
Lisa Shultz
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: end-of-life
I listened to the author read this book on Audible. Soon after starting, I realized that I needed the print version to highlight and reflect. After I finished the audio version, I looked at my highlights and took notes on what stood out to me. I plan to repeat the entire process again. I don't usually feel that strongly about the value of the content. This book is thought provoking and potentially paradigm shifting on many aspects of dying and death. I need a second read to go deeper yet.
If you
Mar 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I adore this book!! I know many believe it to be a long wordy read. However, perhaps it makes sense to think of it as a journey. It took me approx. 4 months to finish the book. I would read for a while, put it down, think it through and then pick it up again. Personally, I thoroughly enjoyed the way it was written. Enjoy the Journey!
Dec 20, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Best to listen to it. The guy is an amazing storyteller and he is the narrator. It is mesmerizing. I am almost finished with it and I intend to immediately begin it again. The wisdom imparted is invaluable and I feel that my life is enriched because of it.
Jul 22, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Very thought provoking.
erin c.
Dec 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
important message, although wish author would have focused a little more on a solution/path forward rather than continuing to reiterate the problems...
Jan 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Every now and then a voice sings truth to my soul. Stephen Jenkinson is one of those people. His call to normalize death rings true. It is a call I intend to answer.
Sep 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Die Wise is one of the most powerful books I have ever read. So powerful in fact that I had to buy my own copy midway through a library copy so I could highlight and underline. I read it very slowly in order to properly process Jenkinson's thesis. The septuagenarian author lives in on a farm in rural Ontario and has lived an interesting life. He has Masters degrees in both Theology and Social Work and has traveled much of world. He most recently worked for twenty years in the palliative care "in ...more
Hannah  Kim
May 01, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book is for anybody who is going to die.
Andrew Boden
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A majestic, masterful critique of our death-phobic culture. A way out and a way in.
Oct 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Challenging yet engaging read, definitely gives a different perspective on death that I ended up relating with
Aug 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Dogeared and underlined all over the place. A new bible.
Elizabeth McInerney
Nov 23, 2018 rated it really liked it
I am grateful for this author's perspective on life and death, and I do believe that this book has changed me. That said, the work would have benefited greatly from an editor and a different title. Giving the rambling nature, and the author's comfort with story telling, "Thoughts on Death" would have been a more accurate title than "Die Wise".

The story telling portions of the book were excellent, for those sections alone I would have rated it a 5. But overall, I feel that he did not cater enoug
Geoffrey Szuszkiewicz
Nov 26, 2018 rated it it was amazing

Die Wise is a powerful and moving book that touches on a subject that, culturally, we have a lot of hang ups talking about. Our death phobia comes at a great expense, both to those who are in the midst of the dying process, and those who will survive them. Jenkinson is generous with his insights from working in the death trade for decades—sometimes too generous. He is verbose and repetitive at times, and I definitely had to slog though a couple chapters. Having said this, however, the book is ri
Liam Taylor
Nov 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
"Professional grievers are those that seem to have been born naturally sensitive to the tones and the events around them, obedient to the knapp of life. When the time for grief is upon them, they grieve, because they know how. They are prone to the world, and their very valuable service to the rest of us is to detonate the sorrow that is set aside or buried unde the burden of trying to make it through our days. We have those people in our midst today, but they are not usually employed in such an ...more
Will Adolphy
May 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: taking-to-heaven
I'm slightly awe struck and baffled by what I've just read.

It will take me some months and another read to get my head around the ideas and then many years at attempting to inhabit and live in the company of these ideas before I feel able to articulate the meaning within this book adequately.

I highlighted over 300 sections. I've watched hours of Stephen talk. Something has shifted in my way of seeing things and I'm desperate to continue down this road of wonder.

I bought the book on Kindle, Au
Jennifer Hansen
Jan 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me by a friend who just died of breast cancer. It is about how to die well, written by a palliative care professional and just a very wise man. One of his arguments is that prolonging life in a medically-managed death really just means prolonging suffering, and that this is not a good death. It is costly, bad for the person dying and bad for the loved ones of the person dying. It diminishes us all. And sadly it is the norm in this country.

This would not have been my
Oct 01, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: health
He had me at 'we live in a death-phobic society'...
I can imagine some would find this difficult to read not even so much for the content but i felt it needed a tighter editing process, even for me, who loves having to re-read a meaty sentence, some of it was just unwieldly and like this sentence interrupted the flow and had to be figured out a couple of words at a time and at more than one try simply because the information was packed in too tightly. Some of the reported conversations ran one pe
May 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing
First, let me say that Stephen Jenkinson is a storyteller, and that hearing him read this book to you is a completely different and altogether better experience than reading the text yourself. I made it halfway through this book before obtaining the audio and my experience of it changed dramatically. It has now assumed a place among the best books I've ever read. Stephen is a Harvard educated theologian who has spent many years in service to, and being educated by, people at the end of their liv ...more
KJ Grow
Dec 01, 2020 rated it liked it
Unnecessarily verbose and tangential, but enough moments of astonishing beauty and insight to keep me going through 400 pages.

"Our fear of dying is an inherited trauma. It comes from not knowing how to be at home in the world. It comes from having no root in the world and no indebtedness to what has gone before us."

"Most dying people are enormously sad, and they need help in being sad. They don't require a diagnosis. The inability to be sad when it's time to be sad - not too much sadness for
Todd Lejnieks
Jul 15, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I read this book in a hospital bed with a severe infection that threatened my life. I guess I'm a glutton for punishment but I found it a solace to consider how I wanted to die. I'm much better now but Jenkinson's words still echo in my daily life. He explores our death-phobic culture, his experience in palliative care, and refers to Death as a great diety. Not a quick read and I found myself re-reading passages over and over, and sometimes his prose got in the way of me understanding but I stil ...more
Adam Johnson
Aug 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Ah, there's little than can be written to do justice to the thought and contemplation that Jenkinson gives, "the trouble" as he might put it. It is a masterfully roaming and wandering and beguiling account of how western culture became "death-phobic", the importance of home and how we can reclaim our dead.

It's a book I plan to return to again and again. I listened to this version by audiobook narrated by Jenkinson himself. That was divine, however I also feel that it deserves the more deliberate
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Stephen is a teacher, author, storyteller, spiritual activist, farmer and founder of the Orphan Wisdom School, a teaching house and learning house for the skills of deep living and making human culture. It is rooted in knowing history, being claimed by ancestry, working for a time ​yet to come.​

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