I read a lot of books, those about dying and death. Personal accounts, peoples views, medical perspectives, books that are designed to connect us with our own mortality, books that offer a new way of doing dying and death as a community and society (which is often really the re-discovery of old ways).
The book that I finished this afternoon had me in tears nearly every time I opened its sacred pages. Tears of joy, sorrow, intense knowing, tears of challenge and elation, relief and disbelief. This book invites you in with a warm hug, it places you in the centre of peoples hearts and you are carried through their journey, privileged to share their thoughts, feelings and actions… all the while it is as if they are somehow unfolding right before you. The heart, the love, the experience seems so tangible and I could not help to become completely immersed – submerged in the writing. More than once I’ve had to stop reading this on the Tassielink bus to work for fear of falling apart and arriving in town with makeup running down my face – more than once I have guarded my time to read a few more pages quite jealously against all the other ‘life’ stuff that pull my attention away from absorbing a good book.
This is so much more than a book about death and likewise, more than a book about life. The pages carry a profound and sacred message that sits so beautifully within me while reminding me of how much I still have to learn. This book is proof to me that the way we are engaging with people at You n’ Taboo and our work dedicated to encouraging a shift in the space of how we ‘do’ dying and death as a community, as a tribe – it means something. It can add value to our experiences and heal some of the disconnects our community has had in decades past. This book is a lesson, a reminder and a promise all in one… and proof that there is an immense benefit in embracing a mindful and planned ‘good death’. But this book is more than just that too. It is a testament to the strength of those people and their humanity – it is a book that takes the reader by the hand and says, “You can do it too”. This book cements my firm belief that we all have this ancestral knowledge in our bones of how to care for the dying and how to be with the dead if only we can open our heart and minds to it.
The author is both courageous and humble. She is wise and kind. I am so glad I connected with her prior to reading her book as I may have just been lost for words or not has the courage to reach out at all. As much as she admits she is still learning, she is the maiden, mother and crone combined. She writes with the innocence and vulnerability of the maiden in a way not often displayed in day to day humdrum of life, she is the mother in her nurturing and protective approaches yet still free from ego in her telling of them and she is the crone in all these things, so very wise and enlightened in what she lays bare for the reader to absorb.
This book, ‘The Final Act of Grace’ by Mary Dwyer should be read by everyone including nurses, palliative carers and specialists, doulas, funeral directors, those scared of dying, those grieving, those coming to terms with someone’s imminent death… It is masterfully crafted as a piece of writing, it is a beacon of hope for all of us who want to see this shift in society towards death awareness, mindfulness and literacy and it is one of the most personal and moving accounts of a journey towards death and the bereavement after death that I have ever read. Ever. The wisdom and insight contained herein is remarkable and profound.
I challenge you not to consider your own end and that of those you love. I challenge you to read this and not come away feeling like you can be even better as a human. This book is a gift to your soul, I challenge you not to be changed.
Thank you Mary for your honesty, for your vulnerability and willingness to share this journey with the world.