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  • Writer's pictureDebbie Thrower

Guide to ‘finishing well’ that’s a bestseller

Updated: Mar 2, 2022

No one wants to think about their own demise but this book shows there are positive advantages to facing up to death. It’s a book to engender courage. I heard of one person, who knew he was dying, who bought multiple copies to give to his family and friends so they would be better informed on the subject.

You see, author Kathryn Mannix is a tender and compassionate guide to this taboo subject, which most of us would rather do almost anything than confront. Dr Mannix has spent her medical career treating people who have incurable advanced diseases. Within the pages of this book, you meet some of them.

Their stories may well help each of us face our own mortality better prepared and with a measure of additional fortitude.

It is not a book to read rapidly. It pays to read each patient’s story slowly, with plenty of time to reflect. Incidentally, patient confidentiality has not been breached because wherever possible Mannix sought permission from relatives and certain details have been changed to protect anonymity.

There are valuable lessons for each of us to learn if we are willing to face our own mortality so as ‘to live and die well’.

From the book, one elderly couple will remain long in the memory: a sick wife knowing the end was near, while her loving husband was in denial, unwilling to admit to the fact and so trying to protect her by never mentioning that his beloved’s illness could be terminal. Mannix gently, step-by-step, helps each of them to face the truth and so learn to communicate fully in the time that remained to them. What a precious gift for them both, an irreplaceable time when they could be truly of the same mind… together.

I agree heartily with a Sunday Times review (writes Debbie Thrower) which said:

The stories read like fiction, from a writer well attuned to her craft. The life in each shines through and the characters practically leap off the page. It is incredibly moving, of course, but what it isn’t is miserable. Yes, this is a book about death, but it is also a book about joy. There aren’t all that many books that change the way you see the world. This book really might.

With the End in Mind: How to live and die well by Kathryn Mannix (William Collins, 2017) is available in paperback.




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