Death and Taxes as the saying goes, yet it is only one of these subjects that we actually talk about. I can remember the deafening silence I experienced when the “D” topic was mentioned in an office I used to work at. Religion and Politics may have your dinner guests bickering, Death silences even the most troublesome. Although Christians boast in he defeat of Death on the cross of our saviour, yet we have as much problem as everyone else discussing the topic. This wrong is what the author, Ann Clifford seeks to right in a new book on how to deal with the demise of loved ones in christian manner.
The main positives in this book is simply the bravery in discussing the subject in a very easy to read manner. The author has clearly researched the topic and has bags of personal stories and anecdotes to hand. Each page is full of scriptural/theoretical discussion of various aspects of dying and dealing with death buttressed with stories and poems which make this a very movingly human read.
My only major problem with this is the manner in which the material has been organised.
The book is divided into 2 parts with part one titled, “the journey” and has 5 chapters. Although these chapters were meant to read like a coherent story from the problems of “being human” to communicating our goodbye to loved ones, the narrative however does not quite hold together. We instead get a discussion of a topic, followed by a quote, followed by a story/poem. The writing style is akin to listening an older relative and requires a lot of patience and goodwill in piecing together what is being said. A thematic arrangement would have helped better organise the material.
For example, the issue of the “Health and Wealth” gospel is discussed in chapter one and helpfully warns against the problems associated with obsessively waiting on healing rather than accepting that sometimes to depart and be with Christ is far better. The issue is again picked up again in chapter 5 in a case of a young man and his church praying for his healing:
“Convinced of God’s healing, he would brook no discussion on the possibility of death. His church bolstered him in his ‘faith’. A lost opportunity for his loved ones to say goodbye. In their view it was heartbreaking”
Several of these issues can be found discussed all over the place and the book would have been better if they were placed in close proximity to each other.
Part 2 is meant to be the practical half of the book, yet has only one chapter with the other being titled as the “the finale”. These are then followed by 2 Appendices dealing with very useful practical advice. Appendix 1 contains a “to-do-list when someone dies”, 2 discusses “choosing a care/nursing home” and 3 is a list of 30 things to do when visiting.
Overall this is a good book on the subject though I suspect it will not be the go to resource. This does not take away from the readability of Clifford’s book with its shear volume of excellent stories. This is a helpful resource and a very good start on an ongoing discussion.
The publisher of “Time to Live”, Instant Apostle provided a review copy of the book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All quotes are from this copy.