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Waiting for the Last Bus: Reflections on Life and Death
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Waiting for the Last Bus: Reflections on Life and Death

4.16  ·  Rating details ·  300 ratings  ·  51 reviews
Where do we go when we die? Or is there nowhere to go? Is death something we can do or is it just something that happens to us?

Now in his ninth decade, former Bishop of Edinburgh Richard Holloway has spent a lifetime at the bedsides of the dying, guiding countless men and women towards peaceful deaths. In The Last Bus, he presents a positive, meditative and profound explor
Kindle Edition, 177 pages
Published March 1st 2018 by Canongate Books
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Be Bwave

I suppose that I’m the target demographic for this book. Having exhausted my three score and ten, I am now on bonus time. I have not been cheated of anything about life. There are family members who care for me. I have no material worries. In short, things have exceeded expectations. So Death is the obvious issue at hand.

“Fortitude is one of the most important lessons life teaches, and ageing may be our last chance to learn it... Fortitude is the ability to endure the reality of our con
Never fear: it’s not your average pie-in-the-sky Christian talk in Richard Holloway’s brand-new book about old age and death. Holloway was a career priest and has written nearly 30 theological works, but he comes at things from a refreshingly different angle. In Leaving Alexandria, one of my all-time favorite memoirs, he recorded his drift away from orthodoxy – even as he rose through the ranks of the Church of Scotland to become Bishop of Edinburgh. He recognizes morality as provisional (like i ...more
Elizabeth A
Feb 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing
When one of my nephews was about 6 years old he asked me what happens to people when they die. I said that different people believed different things, and explained some of those beliefs. But what do you think, he asked?

Have you noticed that children ask the most profound questions, and yet somehow as they grow up society shuts down that curiosity? The author, who was the former Bishop of Edinburgh, continues to ponder these questions, and this little book was thought provoking, and moving, and
Shirley Revill
I really enjoyed listening to this audiobook it was very thought provoking.
Very well written and narrated. Recommended.
The Idle Woman
Apr 12, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Until two years ago, no one close to me had died; not since I’d been old enough to understand it. But 2016 came with chill winds and ruthlessness, and the last two years have seen the loss of five close family members. It hasn’t been easy. But it has had one useful outcome. I used to be afraid of death. It was a terrifying transmutation that I didn’t understand and didn’t want to acknowledge. But necessity has changed that and now, in the light of my family’s losses, I’ve had to accept it as an ...more
Feb 05, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This collection of musings on mortality is comforting yet deeply personal as the author navigates his late eighties. After spending much of his life immersed in theology and philosophy, the author writes these setting-sun essays with calm resignation despite facing a “crisis of faith” period. He doesn’t see it as a crisis, however, merely a period of questioning the existence of God and doubting the existence of an afterlife. Using poetry as therapy, he passes through the stages of grieving his ...more
Apr 11, 2018 rated it liked it
I received this one for review from NetGalley.

I have mixed feelings about this one. I wanted so badly to enjoy it, but unfortunately ended up DNF'ing at around 56%.

Richard Holloway is a Bishop that has spent decades assisting people to achieve a peaceful death. Waiting for the Last Bus is less of a memoir and more of a commentary on grief, forgiveness and religion. There were definitely parts of his writing that I enjoyed. For example, throughout each chapter Holloway would provide segments of
Jun 15, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is a very inspiring read about the concept and the reality of death and dying. I hope to achieve even a measure of Richard Holloway’s wisdom in my life. This book is an excellent start. Highly recommended for all us mortal beings.
My thanks to NetGalley for the eARC in exchange for my honest review.
Ruth Innes
Apr 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Just read it. I’m about to read it again.
Jun 24, 2018 rated it really liked it
I had not heard of Richard Holloway before reading this book. I understand that he has been a cleric by profession. But he is perhaps more interestingly, a student of religion and a man who has essentially abandoned a literal interpretation of Christian doctrine and focused on religion’s value to us in a more human and social context.

In this book, he considers the human condition, our will to live and particularly, our inevitable demise.
My initial feel
Apr 25, 2018 rated it really liked it
Shelves: baby-boomers
"We spend a lot of our time and effort not thinking about death."

"Humans are afflicted with tragic self-consciousness that does not seem to bother other animals. Pain that seems to be unique to humans is an awareness of our bodies is so keen it can lure us into depression and self-hatred."

"Accepting the reality of the way we look and the certainty of our death, maybe one day son, won't make us happy, but it might save us from the greater unhappiness of trying to ignore or hide from these realiti
FIONA Norris
Jul 05, 2018 rated it really liked it
I have been reading Richard Holloway for many years now - from the thought-provoking 'Godless Morality, via the fascinating and challenging 'On Forgiveness' to the widely read memoir 'Leaving Alexandria'. Holloway is a clever, deeply reflective writer, who has grappled with the challenges of religious belief for almost all of his life. In this book, he draws on his very personal experience - he's in his ninth decade - to think about approaches to death and dying. In doing so, as you might expect ...more
hayls 🐴
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The most helpful book on the subject of mortality and loss I have read so far. Most books like this just make me rage with their empty platitudes, and are usually just sad stories about people dying and how awful it is and the vibe is very “oh well make the most of life, kumbayah”.
This book is more about life really. And how to live it.
Fern Adams
The Last Bus is a book that addresses the subject of death and dying. This is a real mixture of philosophy, theology, anthropology, history and memoir. Holloway does not shy away from what is so often a taboo subject and that in itself is quite refreshing. A reflective and informative read.
May 11, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
An interesting and valuable reflection in an - admittedly - beautifully produced format. Worth gifting to a friend in need.
Feb 09, 2019 rated it liked it
loved the poems and some of the thoughts but some of it went way over my head
Nov 09, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an excellent, thought provoking book written with a light, amusing touch. I’ve reached the stage in life where reflections on life and death seem appropriate, and this is a book I’ll read again. Holloway considers our fears of death, both for ourselves, and for those whom we love. He looks at what comes next, both for the deceased and for those left behind. A former monk, agnostic, and bishop, Holloway has written a book which is accessible to us all, not just Christians.
Suzie Grogan
Jul 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I hate to think about death, suffering health anxiety and melancholia at the passing of time, of youth and of the role I have in my children’s lives. This book has everything to recommend it. No preaching, a tolerant viewpoint and a willingness to gain understanding from a wide variety of sources. A wise book and one to treasure.
Diane B
Jun 11, 2019 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality
This parish priest honestly shares his doubts and wavering faith. He's presided at many funerals and helped the faithful, agnostic and atheist face the end of their own lives. At eighty, he contemplates his own death, "Sooner or later the bus will be along for me. But I've been a walker all my life, so when I hear its approach afar off I hope I'll have time to lace on my boots and set out to meet it."

He quotes poetry liberally, with 101 footnotes and references, from the bible, Niettzche, Larkin
Jun 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Quite a gem - and you don't need to be religious to find this book so.
Holloway illustrates his musings with much excellent poetry.
Brian Douglas
Feb 08, 2019 rated it really liked it
Richard Holloway's most recent offering takes the reader to places our culture has deemed 'no fly zones'. We dislike the subject of death. Thinking of it, dwelling upon it, and god forbid, talking of it, is akin to taking a child to the dentist - a most unpleasant endeavor.
As an octogenarian and the former Bishop of Scotland, he is uniquely qualified to tell the tale. From my own experience in hospital chaplaincy, I know something of the journey from which he writes. Walking alongside those w
Richard Stableford
Richard Holloway, a former Bishop of Edinburgh, reflects on life and death. He is now in his 80's, although I am younger, at 60 the very strong likelihood is that I more years behind me then ahead. Bishop Richard has courted controversy with many conservative Christians, it is no shock to read him state that he doesn't believe in God or in Heaven. I, as a Christian, sit somewhere between been not a conservative, but not a full blown liberal. I must admit for some time I have felt there could be ...more
Jun 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"So tenderness is all."

"But if the moment comes and our character is revealed to us, we must accept it and admit who and what we are."

"No present, no future, only the compulsive memory of the past. The inability to forgive works the same way. It imprisons us in the past, whether in our personal or in our group relations. That's why most of the wars and feuds that characterise human history are the constant rehearsal of a past offense."

"If we refuse the paradox that it is through death that life
Jul 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A most excellent treatment of the subject of life and death, and aging, for those of us who think about such things. Many wise and moving quotations and references, besides his own sound reasoning, and experiences recalled.
P. 15, “...Fearing the not-being-there that follows death is as silly as regretting that we weren’t here before we were born.” (Epicurius)
P. 85, re Courage as the wise person's response to the fear of going, and Gratitude as the answer to the desire to stay forever.
P. 134, re
Lisa Shultz
Jun 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: end-of-life
This book of reflections on life and death was eloquently written. I was not able to read it fast. I had to focus (in a good way) and let it soak in. If I was distracted, I simply had to put it down and come back. It deserved my full attention.
Imagery is vivid such as when the author used the analogy of life and death as a stage performance:

“Death and dying have been taken over by the medical profession; and there’s a lot of evidence to suggest that it sees death not as a friend we might learn
Nov 07, 2018 rated it really liked it
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
I loved this book. I loved the way he talked about things - serious subjects discussed in a personal but practical way - as though we'd shared long conversations - or long letters. He doesn't make himself out to be some great expert with all the answers although his experience and knowledge do give what he has to say some validity. He has something to add to the conversation surrounding death and dying, the here and now and the question of an afterlife, religions and belief and doubt. People don ...more
Mar 26, 2019 rated it really liked it
In his nineties the author Richard Holloway has had a career in caring for people, helping the bereaved and being there for people as they are dying. In this book he reflects on what dying means, is it something that happens to us, or is it something we participate in. It is a subject that I am interested in so I enjoyed this little book, and found it thoughtful and insightful. Even though he has a religious background, I like that he still presents a variety of thoughts on what happens when we ...more
Joanne Mcleod
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
A wonderful testament to life in the discussion of death.
As I read the pages, I often thought how my Dad would appreciate this book, and I would have to tell him about it. Then in the next breath I would remember my Dad dying almost exactly two months ago. This book, like many others, came to me, rather serendipitous, to comfort me in my grief.
Also in terms of timing, it felt right to read his wisdom, just as a beloved poet, Mary Oliver breathed her last breaths.

“Courage can be death’s last gi
Ivan Monckton
Jul 08, 2018 rated it really liked it
A good read by a good man, a retired Bishop who doesn’t ram Christianity down your throat, and who bravely admits to his own doubts about the after life. There is some sound advice in this book, and though, at 65, I hope I have a good time left, it is never too early to start preparing for one’s demise.
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Richard F. Holloway is a Scottish writer and broadcaster and was formerly Bishop of Edinburgh in the Scottish Episcopal Church.

Holloway was educated at Kelham Theological College, Edinburgh Theological College and the Union Theological Seminary, New York City. Between 1959 and 1986 he was a curate, vicar and rector at various parishes in England, Scotland and the United States. He was Bishop of Ed

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