Waiting for the Last Bus: Reflections on Life and Death

Richard Holloway. Canongate, $24 (192p) ISBN 978-1-78689-021-4
Holloway (Leaving Alexandria), former Bishop of Edinburgh, brings wisdom and humor to his astute observations on humanity’s preoccupation with death. He begins by examining wide-ranging theories about dying, death, and life after death from different times, cultures, and religions—particularly Hinduism, Christianity, and Islam. Holloway easily jumps across topics including old age, the fear of death (which many but not all people experience), the antideath movement, near-death experiences, ghosts, spiritualism, funerals, and obituaries. Describing himself as “a doubting priest,” he reveals with refreshing honesty how his own theological views have changed (“I neither desire nor expect life after death”) while saying of Christianity, “Who can blame it for choosing to confront death not with facts but with poetry?” Using the analogy of life as a card game, Holloway urges readers to contemplate “how we play the last card” and (even if they are not religious) to consider such rituals as confession and honest self-examination: “The tragedy is to die without knowing who you were.” This powerful volume abounds with thoughtful guidance for soothing the dying, comforting the grieving, and preparing for one’s own death. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 02/12/2018
Release date: 04/03/2018
Genre: Nonfiction
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