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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Profound look at death and dying, 3 Feb. 2011
By 
Bodhi Heeren (Copenhagen) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death (Paperback)
Although primarily aimed at people working as professional caretakers this deep and well-written book is a must for everyone with an interest in Death. Wether their own or others.

Thoroughly based on Joan Halifax's Buddhist roots - she's a Zen roshi - she offers a wealth of useful and intelligent insights. Combined with some very profound and helpful excercises that sure ranks amongst the best I've seen in this field. Among them Atisha's 9 meditations on impermanence.

She carefully avoids setting up ideals for 'the good Death', instead underlining that each person has his/her own unique proces. And at the same time holding the vision of enlightened Deaths up as an inspirational ideal.

Essential for those who has the courage to accept his/hers mortality.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A very profound book, 9 Dec. 2010
A Kid's Review
This review is from: Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death (Paperback)
Very useful for someone who have a parent dying, or have a close relationship with the death. The approach is from a buddhist point of view, but all traditions could take advantage from the book of Halifax Roshi, that talks about humans.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Worthwhile and comforting read, 11 Mar. 2012
BEING WITH DYING is specifically aimed at professional caregivers, but non-professional caregivers, such as family members and friends who provide caregiving for a dying person, will find excellent support to guide them along their spiritual path.

With unflinching honesty and deep compassion for the dying person, Halifax explores all the aspects of dying and death that, in being with a dying person, a caregiver may experience. She deals with the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional processes that dying activates and how this affects both the dying person and those around him.

There was some bias against family members and friends acting as caregivers to the dying. All her empathy lies with the dying person, which is as it should be, but Halifax is, at times, quite unsympathetic to the emotional pain, suffering and struggle from the family caregivers' side. Her negative view of caretaker archetypes reveals a subtle disdain for the role of family caregivers.

Unfortunately, this slightly detracts from the inherent wisdom of her advice and Buddhist philosophy. Not all of us have the temperament or self-mastery to become a detached caregiver. All non-professional caregivers do is try to give their loved ones the best that they can out of love. Yes, with hindsight, the mistakes they make may have made dying more difficult for the departing soul, but the resulting guilt also makes the loss harder to bear even when the non-professional caregiver knows the loved one's soul is finally at peace. Halifax's compassion was all for the dying and there was very little left over for the family members living for years in that strange limbo between deep love, anticipatory grief and impending loss.

Despite this, the wise reflections, the meditations and the practical advice presented in BEING WITH DYING helped me through the very trying time of my beloved Father's active dying. Coincidentally, I started reading this book the night he had his third and final stroke, and I finished it 11 days later, the day after his funeral.

I regret that I only found this book three years after my role as caregiver to my Father began, because I can see the mistakes I made, despite having help from a professional caregiver for the last 18 months. But I do gain some small comfort from the fact that, in the 6 days it took my beloved Father to actively die, I feel this book truly helped me ease his path slightly (by just sitting quietly with him and following his lead.) I also found the breathing meditations helped me calm my mind and relax my body during this intensely emotional time.

Ultimately, BEING WITH DYING was a worthwhile and comforting read for me. I highly recommend BEING WITH DYING, no matter what stage of the caregiver's role you are currently in.
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