Death is a great and grand mystery, and the actual act of dying is the last physical act of our lives. We can do it well, like a graceful well-rehearsed piano solo—or we can do it like that first awkward dance with a middle-school crush. But if anything deserves our full attention, some preparation, or some renewed clarity, death might be it.
In this light-hearted, irreverent exploration of the one thing that is certain in all lives, Making Friends with Death offers a look at all the uncertainty that precedes this final act. A compelling mix of practical how-to advice and personal narrative, this book encapsulates our greatest quest—to make peace with death. Pritchett offers up wisdom she has gleaned from all sorts of places, including a decade of traditional research and a lifetime of other related, but less formal, pursuits (digging up a dead body, watching her dog be necropsied on the lawn, hosting Death Cafés, and confronting the grim reaper himself).
Making Friends with Death broaches the sacred and the scary with warmth, research, and humor. Interspersed with a variety of workbook-like exercises, this book will prove to be the go-to companion for anyone who would rather be able to greet death as an old friend, rather than a spooky stranger.
Laura Pritchett is an American author whose work is rooted in the natural world. Her five novels have garnered numerous national literary awards, including PEN USA Award for Fiction, the High Plains Book Award, the Milkweed National Fiction Prize, and the WILLA Award. She's published over 200 essays and short stories in magazines, including The New York Times, The Sun, O Magazine, Salon, High Country News, Orion, and others, mostly about environmental issues in the American West. She holds a PhD from Purdue University and teaches around the country. She is also known for her environmental stewardship, particularly in regard to land preservation and river health. More at www.laurapritchett.com.
Pritchett’s stories and exercises were very enjoyable to read, often funny, always open and sincere, and written to put the reader at ease. Even without the guided exercises, one might enjoy simply reading her stories. But don’t just read this book! Use the guide, take control of the one thing we can all count on (dying) and plan your death and your life accordingly. Write your own story and you will have made a new friend.
– Dr. Sanders Burstein, Proximity Magazine
"As a practicing clinical psychologist, I exhort all my patients to confront their fears and adversities head-on—rationally, courageously, with grit and determination. This is exactly what Laura Pritchett does in her much-needed self-help book, Making Friends With Death. She shares a veritable cornucopia of personal experiences, strategies, perspectives, and workshop-like exercises to demystify, intelligently prepare for, and gracefully manage this most daunting of all of life’s challenges—our passing. Written in an accessible style fused with warmth, humor, and wisdom, it should be on everyone’s got-to-read list and part of every clinician’s library."
– Russell Grieger, Ph.D., author of The Couples Therapy Companion and Unrelenting Drive
"Death, that universal experience that is rarely discussed at parties, is now made accessible to all of us. Laura Pritchett has provided us with an intricate road map for the exploration of our death so that we can get on with the business of joyful living."
– Dr. Tim Flynn, physical therapist and international expert in chronic pain manage
"While I’ve read my fair share of advice and research on dying, sat with dying patients, and experienced my own mortality at a young age, nothing could’ve prepared me for this book. The emotions surrounding death—from catapulting hope to bottoming out grief—are captured in such a succinct and artful way that is at once both fearfully honest and, dare I say, entertaining. Laura Pritchett has assembled a true workbook for the one course none of us want to take. Astonishingly, I feel I may have been given the key to a good death."
– Laura Katers, Inpatient Pain Management, University of Washington Medical Center