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Die Wise does not offer seven steps for coping with death. It does not suggest ways to make dying easier. It pours no honey to make the medicine go down. Instead, with lyrical prose, deep wisdom, and stories from his two decades of working with dying people and their families, Stephen Jenkinson places death at the center of the page and asks us to behold it in all its painful beauty. Die Wise teaches the skills of dying, skills that have to be learned in the course of living deeply and well. Die Wise is for those who will fail to live forever.
Dying well, Jenkinson writes, is a right and responsibility of everyone. It is not a lifestyle option. It is a moral, political, and spiritual obligation each person owes their ancestors and their heirs. Die Wise dreams such a dream, and plots such an uprising. How we die, how we care for dying people, and how we carry our dead: this work makes our capacity for a village-mindedness, or breaks it.
Table of Contents
The Ordeal of a Managed Death
Stealing Meaning from Dying
The Tyrant Hope
The Quality of Life
Yes, But Not Like This
So Who Are the Dying to You?
Dying Facing Home
What Dying Asks of Us All
Ah, My Friend the Enemy
About the Author
STEPHEN JENKINSON MTS MSW is an activist, teacher, author, and farmer. He has a master's degree in theology from Harvard University and a master's degree in social work from the University of Toronto. Formerly a program director at a major Canadian hospital and medical-school assistant professor, Stephen is now a sought-after workshop leader, speaker, and consultant to palliative care and hospice organizations. He is the founder of The Orphan Wisdom School in Canada and the subject of the documentary film Griefwalker.
“Stephen Jenkinson’s elegant and sorrow-freighted book brings prophetic insight rather than pastoral affirmations. A true story-man, Jenkinson paints image after image on the cave wall of his parchment. Die Wise is a formidable body of work, road-tested in ways most of us hope never to know about. Stay with it, hold the sorrow as the gift it is, savor in small, immense chunks. Every word is an invitation to trade fantasy for imagination. There isn’t a book like it.”
—Dr. Martin Shaw, author of Snowy Tower: Parzival and the Wet, Black Branch of Language