cover image What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying

What Really Matters: 7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying

Karen M. Wyatt, M.D.. SelectBooks, $16.95 trade paper (192p) ISBN 978-1-59079-21

Wyatt (The Loss & Grief Survival Guide), a family physician specializing in hospice care, provides touching patient profiles to illustrate her seven life lessons, which include forgiveness, learning to "Dwell in the Present Moment," "Let[ting] Go of Expectations," and more. Readers are introduced to a range of patients: plagued by a degenerative neuromuscular disorder, Ashley is an effectively comatose 18-year-old who can only say "I love you," and whom Wyatt describes as a "pure vessel for the transmission of Divine love;" Ralph is a 60-year-old alcoholic living in a "tumbledown" apartment complex and dying of renal cancer who spends his final months drafting gorgeous pencil-drawings of "things [he's] seen in [his] life." Occasionally, Wyatt lapses into aphorism%E2%80%94as when she notes that "genuine forgiveness requires a shifting of one's energy away from hatred%E2%80%A6toward healing%E2%80%94" but fails to follow up with practical methods for doing so. While some of her advice may come across as New Age-y, the overriding message%E2%80%94to "not only accept change" but "embrace impermanence"%E2%80%94has roots in many traditional systems of spirituality, allowing this book to appeal to a wide swath of readers. While not always a pragmatic guide to coping with tragedy and loss, Wyatt's newest is nevertheless an inspirational volume. (Feb.)