by Marilyn Chandler McEntyre
Eerdmans, Grand Rapids, Mich. 143 pages
As I was pondering the impending death of an elderly woman, her daughter said, “It’s really going to be okay. After all, none of us gets out of this alive.” That was her way of accepting the reality of death. Others say it more succinctly, “We are born to die.”
Marilyn McEntyre writes about the experience of dying honestly, eloquently and pastorally. These brief reflections are written in the first person, giving them an unusual clarity. McEntyre chose this method “hoping it will give the pieces an immediacy they not have otherwise, make them more a sharing of a common condition than advice from across the chasm that divides health from illness.”
The reflections address nearly every situation facing the dying: from the inevitable changes in the body, to the indignities that go with increased dependence, to the opportunities of love that dying brings, and more. Each essay is layered with wisdom that never condescends upon the subject, but honestly speaks truthfully what we often have no space or courage to say. Readers can move among the topics as the situation warrants. Each mediation concludes with prayer and there is a selection of appropriate lines from songs and hymns, all of which make this book a beautiful guide for walking with the dying. This is a book of love.