Author: Susan Abel Lieberman, PH.D

Publisher: Casa de Palabras

ISBN: 978-0-578-12066-9: Ebook ISBN: 978-1-4675-6697-1

Susan Abel Lieberman may not be an estate attorney and she doesn't profess to be one, nevertheless, I can vouch from my own thirty-five years experience as an estate attorney that she certainly has done her homework with her recent tome Death, Dying & Dessert: Reflections on 20 Questions About Dying. It is unfortunate I did not have copies of her instructive and well written book to hand out to my clients when I was practicing law.

Lieberman holds a doctorate degree in public policy from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's degree in city planning from the U. of California at Berkeley. Her undergraduate degree was done at Vassar College and the University of California at Berkeley.

Her interest in the topics that she discusses in this one-hundred-and-ninety-one page book emanates from her co-founding of Y Collaborative, a group that was created to encourage conversation about and preparation for end-of-life issues among healthy men and women of all ages. The group meets every eight weeks or so, with a specific conversation topic devoted to each gathering.  Because the group meets over dinner, always with good dessert, the members started calling it Death, Dying and Dessert.  And in essence, the material in the book is the outgrowth of all of these discussions as well as the work of many other writers whose books have enlightened Liberman's understanding of death and dying.

Lieberman rightly points out that the time to hash out such matters as wills, durable powers of attorney, financial powers of attorney, advance directives concerning end-of-life situations, organ donating, health care proxies, living wills, long term care, orders to resuscitate or not, physician orders for life sustaining treatments, and medication lists is not when we fall into a life-threatening health care crisis but rather when we are alert and capable of making sound decisions. As she further notes, the whole point of her book is to motivate you to prepare for dying while enjoying life. Moreover, families are much more likely to talk with us about dying and the choices we might make when it all seems hypothetical rather than when death is imminent.

These above issues are fully explored in Death, Dying & Dessert as well as other themes including is dying important when we are so busy living, why are we afraid of dying, what does death look like, what is old, can we afford to die, how do we start a conversation about death and dying with family and friends, what happens after we die, when is a hospice a good idea, how to talk to our doctors, can death be funny, can we end our life, and how do we find grace under pressure.

Organized into twenty chapters in the form of questions, Lieberman advises her readers to work their way through all of the queries that headline each chapter. She also encourages us to make notes in the margins or on the flyleaf on on your refrigerator notepad. Don't procrastinate, decide what you want to do and then decide when and how you will do it. You can be assured that anything you decide can be revised or revoked, provided you are able to make decisions for yourself.

One of the chapters that I particularly found useful and which can be accessed from the Y Collaborative website is the full compliment of forms she provides and which she urges her readers to complete. Once you have completed these forms, she urges readers to remember to revisit them and review them where there are major changes in your life or every few years when laws may have been changed. Another chapter that is very helpful concerns the importance of wills and here again due to my extensive experience in drafting thousands of wills I can only repeat what I often passed onto my clients, don't leave home without one. It should be mentioned that the book does not deal with the various ins and outs of taxes, trusts, and other instruments available to us as these are complex matters requiring the assistance of a competent estate attorney.

Included at the end of Death, Dying & Dessert are useful appendices concerning the organizing of a Death, Dying, and Desert Group, Geriatric Care Managers, Supplemental letters that you may wish to write to your children as to why you made up your will in a particular way.

Although this book deals with subject matter that many of us ignore and hate to face, it nonetheless serves as a wake-up-call that ultimately provides us with comfort knowing that we are taking care of our affairs before it is too late and thus permitting us to weather the storm that is invariably created by disability and death. As Benjamin Franklin asserted: "In this world nothing can be said to be certain, except death and taxes."

Follow Here To Read Norm's Interview With Susan Abel Lieberman

Follow Here To Purchase Death, Dying and Dessert: Reflections on Twenty Questions About Dying