To prepare for end-of-life issues, every adult in the English-speaking world needs to read and use the advice in Before I Go: The Essential Guide to Creating a Good End of Life Plan by Jane Duncan Rogers. It’s a practical, comprehensive, upbeat guide to just about everything that needs to be addressed before you die.
Like many of today’s death educators, Jane Duncan Rogers came to the field because of a death in the family. Her husband Philip died in 2011, after a year of living with stomach cancer. Together they tackled answering a long list of questions well before cancer claimed his life.
By the time he died, they felt a great sense of achievement and felt more closer, connected and loving. She was better prepared to address the many post-mortem changes families must face.
Yet, she was surprised how discombobulated she was by grief, long after Philip’s death. “It is really easy to underestimate how pervasive grief can be, and how long-lasting,” she writes.
In 2016, she created a workbook called The Good Death Guide: 27 Questions to Ask and Answer Before You Die. She started holding Before I Go courses to motivate and guide people to take steps to actually plan and organize for end of life issues. It’s something that far too many people avoid.
As Duncan writes, “It is very easy to talk the talk and not actually walk the walk. It’s so easy, that only 23% of people have actually written anything down about their end of life care, despite 82% of people in the USA (and similar figures in the UK) saying that getting your affairs in order in this way is a good idea.”
The book is divided into two sections: Preparation and Taking Action. In the Preparation section, she explains why end of life planning rates are so low, how to talk about death, and why it’s important that the growing number of people ageing without children plan ahead. She also offers a helpful chapter on attunement, to help people focus on tackling the task of addressing one’s own mortality issues.
The Taking Action section is chock-full of practical advice: legal and financial issues, practical household matters, personal information, pets, small business impacts, digital assets, and keeping information up to date. She also addresses five obstacles that keep people from taking action with helpful tips to address fears and overwhelm.
The book is published by Findhorn Press. Yes, that’s related to the famous Findhorn spiritual community in Scotland. While Rogers is based in Scotland, her advice is flexible enough to be used by those in the United States, Canada, England, Ireland, Wales, and Australia. She recommends checking into the legalities required in each individual’s country and state.
The book is sprinkled with quotes from people around the world who shared their stories and have benefitted from Rogers’ workshops and materials.
Jane Duncan Rogers is also the author of Gifted By Grief: A True Story of Cancer, Loss and Rebirth. She believes passionately that society needs to be more open about grief, death and dying. Her not-for-profit organization Before I Go Solutions® offers a wealth of information and a free newsletter at https://beforeigosolutions.com/.
She also did a brilliant TEDx talk, “How to do a Good Death.”
Book reviewer Gail Rubin, CT, is a pioneering death educator, using humor and funny films to teach about end-of-life topics. She authored three books on end-of-life issues and coordinates the Before I Die New Mexico Festival, taking place October 30 to November 4, 2018 in Albuquerque and Santa Fe. Learn more and register for 31 free and low-cost events at www.BeforeIDieNM.com.