Is this really how I want to live my life?
Each one of us at some point asks this question. The tragedy is not that life is short but that we often see only in hindsight what really matters.
In this, her first book on life and living, Elisabeth Kubler-Ross joins with David Kessler to guide us through the practical and spiritual lessons we need to learn so that we can live life to its fullest in every moment. Many years of working with the dying have shown the authors that certain lessons come up over and over again. Some of these lessons are enormously difficult to master, but even the attempts to understand them can be deeply rewarding. Here, in fourteen accessible chapters, from the Lesson of Love to the Lesson of Happiness, the authors reveal the truth about our fears, our hopes, our relationships, and, above all, about the grandness of who we really are.
Blending the words of two authors is a precarious undertaking, particularly when the two voices are as strong and well-known as those of K bler-Ross and hospice-care leader Kessler (The Rights of the Dying). Given the similarity in their viewpoints as experts on death and dying, this collaboration seems logical, but unfortunately the alternating entries result in repetitive, rambling prose that lacks punch. The "lessons from the edge of life" culled from the authors' patients include letting go of anger, guilt and fear; learning patience; mourning and accepting loss; playing, laughing and enjoying life; and surrendering to what can't be changed. Although some of the brief personal stories are poignant, the underlying precepts are not new. Kessler and K bler-Ross offer only familiar aphorisms: "live every day to its fullest," "each of us has the power of the universe within us," happiness is a state of mind we can choose, suffering is an opportunity for growth, "life is a school, complete with individualized tests and challenges." Such lessons may be true and useful, but here they come off as trite. K bler-Ross has been ill for many years, suffering two strokes that left her partially incapacitated and may have made writing difficult, but the brief glimpses into her personal journey through illness and near death cry out for elaboration. Mentions of coping with a home health-care worker who stole from her, a nurse who labeled her "combative" and friends who must help this previously vigorous woman navigate the world in a wheelchair indicate a much fuller, richer story than the expanded platitudes offered here, which are unlikely to widen either author's readership.