Accepting Death, Embracing Life: How Death Teaches Us to Live, by Rev Patricia Gulino Lansky, reviewed by Rev Barbara Jean Stannard
Accepting Death, Embracing Life: How Death Teaches Us to Live by Rev Patricia Gulino Lansky is a compelling guide to understanding the dying process, the caregiving process, healing grief, and facing our own fears about death and dying. It is available at Amazon.com or at www.acceptingdeathembracinglife.com.
Patricia’s book is a stirring and emotional personal journey through the author’s loss of eight family members during her teenage and young adult years, written with the intention of assisting others who are facing the loss of a loved one.
Many things make this book unique. The first is Patricia’s comprehensive perspective, garnered from her extensive experience of over forty years as a licensed clinical social worker, psychotherapist in private practice, and ordained Unity minister, currently serving in her fifteenth year as co-minister of Unity of Charlottesville in Virginia. The book is also laced with Patricia’s poetry, which adds a beautiful sensory dimension to difficult subject matter.
Accepting Death, Embracing Life addresses questions such as: How can we best serve and comfort our loved ones? How do we deal with our own feelings of loss and grief—and our own fear of death? How do we take care of ourselves in order to have the strength to take care of our loved one?
Accepting Death, Embracing Life is divided into seven chapters that deeply explore these questions and offer helpful hints and suggestions to assist the reader. Chapter 1 covers the predominant Western cultural view of death including the confusion and denial surrounding aging and mortality, as well as the avoidance of the subject of death and dying. Chapter 2 focuses on the importance of feelings and expressing your emotions about death, especially the “difficult” emotions like anger and grief. Chapter 3 speaks about what actually happens to us as immortal souls when we die.
Chapter 4 explores the thoughts and beliefs we have consciously and unconsciously attached to death, and how to find ways to change the beliefs that no longer work for us. Chapter 5 is the author’s personal experience of a terminal illness and death of a loved one. Chapter 6 describes the dying process and the mystical openings that are often present at the time of death. Chapter 7 encourages the development of the powerful practice of letting go of life in all its manifestations.
Each chapter ends with a section entitled, “Sacred Process,” which challenges the reader with questions that encourage further reflection, as well as providing additional guidance and inspiration.
While Accepting Death, Embracing Life is a deeply poignant journey, the common thread that shines forth is one of optimism and hope. Patricia’s fearless honesty and vulnerability reveals to readers that fear of death, caregiving for a dying loved one, and even bereavement can all give way to a deep appreciation for living—that indeed, “death teaches us to live.”