As a very “in step” and up-to-date octogenarian, Jenkins’ approach to the subject of dying is professionally objective and sprinkled with personal humor, sympathy and empathy. Getting over the threshold to face the topic of death is a difficult step for anyone. Recognizing people’s differing comfort levels, the author beckons the reader through the door with truly intriguing and delightful ideas. Her sagacious wit turns this taboo topic into a page-turner.
It is Jenkins’ thesis that if one will deal with all the details associated with inevitable death while one is able to do so, then one can relax and enjoy an emboldened life with family and friends. A sense of confidence will fill that vacuum of thinking called “confusion.”
As a leader of workshops and seminars, Jenkins has sifted this complex topic to its most essential parts. The book has a hands-on approach with precious few platitudes to clutter the needed information. Each chapter ends with a summary of “to do” lists. Some are like forms to leave with your family. Other lists are to help in distributing one’s cherished possessions as well as one’s estate. Pitfalls and partiality are discussed. Anyone who has ever had to deal with a lifetime’s collection of family items will find themselves wishing they and their family had read this book long ago. Anyone who has had to handle the affairs of a loved one after death will recognize that Jenkins knows what she is writing about.
The first seven of the 17 chapters present such a set of fun scenarios that the reader is enticed to get right on with the preparatory tasks. Advice is thorough and information is complete. She includes organizations that are helpful in matters funereal. Web sites and phone numbers are included for organizations such as Hospice and ElderHostel, as well as helpful information about such groups. A subchapter with the amusing title, “Shop Before You Drop,” provides a serious discussion of burial alternatives. At chapter’s end she refers the reader to the Funeral Consumers Alliance, and gives their toll-free number.
Jenkins believes that end-of-life decisions should be approached with common sense, as well as sympathy and sensitivity. She suggests that readers start a file to include their last wishes, with instructions about where to find wills, insurance papers, etc. With a keen sense of humor she encourages her readers not to postpone these important tasks.
It is clear that Jenkins has learned much about motivating people to these tasks, through her seminars and workshops. The last nine chapters are somewhat like attending one of her workshops in your own home. The book would lend itself well to a workshop in a church setting. It encourages boldness in addressing the final issues of life.