cover image Dessert First: Preparing for Death while Savoring Life

Dessert First: Preparing for Death while Savoring Life

J. Dana Trent. Chalice, $16.99 trade paper (160p) ISBN 978-0-8272-0669-4

Trent (One Breath at a Time), a Baptist minister, draws from her experiences as a hospital chaplain and grieving daughter to plumb how death “teaches us how to live” in this enlightening memoir and guide to confronting the end of life. Fresh out of divinity school and recently ordained, Trent became the chaplain in the “death ward” of a hospital, where she worked with patients with terminal diagnoses. Alternately hilarious (as when she embarks on her “ ‘ashes to ashes’ road tour” with her mother’s remains) and poignant (“Grief never goes away... It just changes shape”), Trent mines her own experiences as well as the lessons of her late nurse practitioner mother and doctor brother, such as acceptance of death as natural and how to facilitate a “good death—employing rituals to help loved ones and ourselves in these transitions.” With practical advice on making checklists to prepare for one’s death or the death of a loved one, Trent reminds readers that it’s never too early or inappropriate to recognize that “we are all terminal.” The subject matter can be grim, but Trent’s tone is always light, and she provides diverse theological perspectives on death and the afterlife as well as other spiritual works concerning death for readers interested in further reading. Trent’s engaging approach and infectious enthusiasm will appeal to any reader concerned with end-of-life care and preparation, even those who, as Trent writes, “would rather die than talk about dying.” (Sept.)