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A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  442 ratings  ·  100 reviews
“A gentle, knowledgeable guide to a fate we all share” (The Washington Post): the first and only all-encompassing action plan for the end of life.

“There is nothing wrong with you for dying,” hospice physician B.J. Miller and journalist and caregiver Shoshana Berger write in A Beginner’s Guide to the End. “Our ultimate purpose here isn’t so much to help you die as it is to
Hardcover, 544 pages
Published July 16th 2019 by Simon Schuster
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Heidi The Reader
Sep 17, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
A Beginner's Guide to the End is a definitive guide about death and how to handle it, both for yourself and your loved ones.

Topics range from planning your estate and dealing with life-ending illnesses all the way through to what to do in the first 24 hours after someone dies and how to liquidate an estate.

I could see this book being incredibly useful to anyone who has received a terminal diagnosis, their family or caregivers of all types.

I picked this book up because my father-in-law recently d
El Maya
Jun 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is an incredible resource for anyone who is preparing for the inevitable. As a daughter who had little to no idea of how to navigate both the progression of dementia and then death of my father, this book would have been an invaluable road map. It addresses all aspects pertaining to the often gradual and painful march towards the end. This includes not simply getting your financial affairs in order, it addresses how to navigate illness, getting loved ones’ wishes and desires for end of ...more
Dustin Hood
May 27, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book needs to be required reading for everyone! I've encountered one death where I was partially responsible for what happened after the passing of my loved one and was utterly clueless. As a survivor of a loved one, you don't know what to do until it happens to you and at that point, you're deep in grief and it's not the best time to be stressed by orchestrating the burial of a loved one. This book walked you through all of that and so, so much more. This book is also for everyone- it desc ...more
Jessica K.
Jun 03, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

I loved this book! I am at the time of life where I need to buckle down and take care of my paperwork. We haven’t updated our wills since having children and this book demystifies all of the things that all responsible people need to take care of while they’re still healthy. Shoshana Berger’s background as founding editor of Readymade magazine gives her the perfect voice for the straightforward, step-by-step guidance this book provides. BJ Miller’s compassionate voice guides you through the medi
Paul Pessolano
Jun 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“A Beginners Guide to the End” by BJ Miller, MD and Shoshana Berger.

Category – Death Publication Date – July 16, 2019.

Most people will probably shun this book due to the subject matter, but I highly endorse this book as a must read for those who are dying and those who are caring for those who are dying.

This is the most comprehensive book I have ever read on any subject matter. Not all of the book will relate to any individual but it is a great pick and choose for which items pertain to a person
Oct 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
How can I give a 5 star rating to a book about facing the end? I needed to read this book to sort of soften the edges of life, as it is in all its glory, but I didn't like having to read it at all, being the fairy tale romantic person I am. This is a wonderful book for those going through life, either dealing with a terminal illness or caring for someone you love who has one. It's practical, no nonsense style gets to the heart of everyday living in the present, and how to deal with the future an ...more
Aug 20, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Initially I expected this book to be for a person who had discovered they were terminal. Kind of a 'How to Proceed" manual.
And it is in some ways. But it is also about how to find help with daily living, meals, income, medications...and how to plan for things like your funeral, how you will want your things disposed of after you are gone.
There are a great number of tips in this gold mine of a book.
One that made me think" Why didn't I think of that " was..get rid of what you don't want your kid
Jul 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This is superb. It covers before, during, and after death for the caregivers, family, and of course the person who dies. With excellent advice, guidance, and to do lists, it really covers the all of the major issues to consider so you and those affected can be prepared. The authors have a huge amount of experience and training and thus are well qualified. Highly recommended, especially if you're afraid of the topic.

I really appreciate the ARC for review!!
Mar 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What an excellent resource for us all, but especially for those of us facing health issues or even end of life.

There is just so. much. work. to be done, practically, physically, emotionally and spiritually, that it's a great idea to start organizing your life and educating yourself sooner than later. This is best read by someone feeling generally well or someone caring for someone but who might not quite be in the "thick of it" yet. It is written in very large print with graphics, bullets and o
Lisa Shultz
Apr 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: end-of-life
This book was beautifully put together. It has tasteful illustrations, handy checklists, and no-nonsense language and advice.
The first section was entitled Planning Ahead. It fit well with my advocacy for not leaving a mess behind when you die. The rest of the book discussed dealing with illness, getting help, getting ready for death and what to do after someone dies. And the resource section at the back of the book is one of the best I have seen.
I have no criticism for this book and it is tim
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: aging
At the beginning of the year, I saw "End Game," an Oscar nominated short film that features BJ Miller. A few months later, I happened to catch a radio interview with him and Shoshana Berger talking about their new book. In a year when my grandmother's health was failing, and everyone in the generation before me was having various health problems, I felt like the universe was telling me something. So I went out and bought it, and I'm so glad that I did. This is a book to keep on the shelf and ref ...more
Stephen Stilwell
1 Sentence Summary: A Beginner’s Guide To The End is your guide to using the principles of stillness, cleaning, and grief to prepare for your own or a loved one’s death.

Favorite quote from the author: "There is nothing wrong with you for dying, but you'd never know it from the way we talk about death."

Here are the 3 most helpful lessons about preparing for death that I’ve learned from this book:

1 Take time for yourself when you receive the news that you have a terminal illness.
2 Prepare for deat
Aug 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This book is a beautifully crafted guide through all that comes with a poor prognosis. I highly recommend it for anyone who is facing a life-threatening illness and wants to know as much as possible about what to expect. It’s also a helpful primer for loved ones and caregivers.
Melissa Siler
May 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
This book has great information if you are learning about preparing a will or any other documentation that is important to have done. But past that it is an incredible resource for anyone walking with someone who is nearing the end of their life, whether it be grandparents, parents, etc. There is so much information I would have never even thought of and I am so glad to have it even if it’s before a time when I need it readily available.
Apr 26, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: death
I read this to prepare emotionally and logistically for deaths in my family and for updating my own will. I found it to be an informative and compassionate guide.
While this covers the mental aspects of death it tends to be more practical.
As such it seems geared for those whose own death is imminent (at least relatively speaking)
Darrell Vandervort
Aug 06, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I would encourage every adult to read this book. Yes it is about death and the processes around death, but it also offers practical advice and instruction about how to prepare, even if death is decades away.
It will help survivors, and we will all lose someone at some point. It will help with what to do and how to do it.
Think of it as the book you have read and will keep because it has all the advice you hope you won’t need for years to come.
Aug 22, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book a 3 because I neither want to encourage anyone to read it nor do I want to discourage anyone from reading it. It has a ton of information, more than you are going to want to read regardless of your situation (sick, not sick, caregiver, etc) and it is written like a reference book and that is probably what its primary purpose should be. I suggest reading Being Mortal if you have not and checking this out from the library if you want/need specific information. And of course the in ...more
Aug 24, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very complete

A step by step guide for facing death. Good guides for all those dealing with end of life issues. Deals with literal issues not spiritual.
Grace Sutherlin
Aug 12, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Everyone always avoids discussing two topics: Death and Taxes. Unless I've missed some major scientific breakthrough or innovation, all of us are going to face the death of our immediate family members as well as our own death. I wanted to read A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical Advice for Living Life and Facing Death by Dr. BJ Miller and Shoshana Berger because I am one of those folks who would rather know what is ahead of me and be prepared for it. And I wish I had already read this book ...more
Dec 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A Beginner's Guide to the End: Practical advice for living life and facing death is an excellent resource that covers a broad swath of material. Divided into 5 sections, the authors provide the reader with thoughts, suggestions, sample questions and other tips from the financial aspects of end-of-life care to asking for help to pre-planning a funeral/burial. The breadth of material covered is wide, perhaps the widest I've seen in any one book. With that breadth comes a lack of depth. That is not ...more
K2 -----
Aug 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I have read most of the mainstream books on this topic as I am an active participant in the decent death movement. This book is head and shoulders above the rest and not just because so many of my peeps are quoted here. Take a moment and watch his Dr. BJ Miller's TED talk, then read the book.

They touch on some very difficult topics including one of my favorites dealing with funeral homes and their sale's pitches. You will know what to expect after reading this, they even talk about selling or bu
Dec 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
“Being Mortal” by Atul Gwande was just what I needed when my father had recently passed away. So calm and sensible and caring, it made me feel better about our decisions and our lives. This book accomplishes the same feeling but with super handy advice, checklists, and easy to follow explanations. It’s gentle and no-nonsense. Marie Kondo couldn’t get me to release my death-grip on all my clutter but this book can. I have told all of my friends (especially those with kids) to get a will, advanced ...more
Sep 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Synthia Salomon
Oct 01, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Though the experience of dying is universal, it can be quite frightening and isolating. However, there are a few concrete things that you can do to improve your life in the time you have left. You should make sure that you have said all you need to say and cleared up any deep secrets. Then, learn to deal with this new reality in your personal relationships. As death approaches, it’s worth bearing in mind that it’s often harder for the people witnessing it than the person undergoing it. Lastly, ...more
Christine Kenney
When we bought our 130 year old Victorian fixer-upper, one of the curiosities uncovered in the root cellar crawlspace was a wooden box which the original home owner had scrawled in faint pencil across the side, "To be opened in the event of my death." It was empty. But this book inspired me to continue his tradition and gave a pretty good checklist for what it would be helpful to include in addition to this book... As well as disabusing me of the belief that demand for dry ice was exclusively ic ...more
Charlene Dean
There is a lot of good, necessary information in this book. However, who really likes reading about death...a loved one's or your own? In fact, the very idea of death is a reason to skip it, but having just lost my father, I've been thinking about ways to ease the burden for my children. The notion of having all your wishes known and communicated before you die seems to be an excellent wondering about whether dad really wanted to be cremated or chose it because it was the cheaper optio ...more
Dec 01, 2019 rated it really liked it
The title says it all, "practical advise for living life and facing death." A Beginner's Guide to the End is fairly all encompassing; covering advance directives, durable powers of attorney, wills, trusts, to palliative care, hospice, death choices, then, on to obituaries, and memorial service or funeral, with the difference explained. Although the majority of the text is specific to a terminal cancer diagnosis, the resource information could be applied to any terminal illness. Suicide, drug-ove ...more
Dec 07, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The good news is my demise is not yet in sight. The bad news is, one really never knows! The tie in to this book is that very few people really plan to deal with the ordeal of being taken out by illness. Yet that is what many of will face as we wrap things up.

The book walks you through multiple factors you will encounter from the paperwork to the pain. And sometimes that paperwork is the pain. But in all seriousness each topics is handled thoroughly and gave me insights and considerations that f
Emerson Lee
Dec 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is a very comprehensive guide through the often mundane process of dying. Each section is generally brief but it offers a solid summary of the often overlooked details- the forms and advanced planning, the social and emotional aspects, dealing with doctors and hospitals, planning a funeral. Reading this long book took a bit of time but it added greatly to my knowledge base, especially with the long list of resources in the back. It's conversational, compassionate, and clear. I'd recommend i ...more
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