Sallie Tisdale offers a thought-provoking, yet practical perspective on death and dying in Advice for Future Corpses. Informed by her many years working as a nurse, with more than a decade in palliative care, Tisdale provides a frank and direct meditation on the inevitable.
...A putative guide to what happens to the body as it dies and directly after — and how to care for it. How to touch someone who is dying. How to carry a body and wash it. How to remove its dentures ... It should be noted that this book is not for the queasy. Frankly, neither is dying. Tisdale writes calm but explicit descriptions of 'the faint leathery smell' of dead bodies and the process of decomposition. 'A dead body is alive in a new way, a busy place full of activity,' she writes ... Tisdale does not write to allay anxieties but to acknowledge them, and she brings death so close, in such detail and with such directness, that something unusual happens, something that feels a bit taboo. She invites not just awe or dread — but our curiosity. And why not? We are, after all, just 'future corpses pretending we don’t know.'
A Practical Perspective on Death and Dying, she confronts the most difficult subject of all. And -we like to think -the most mysterious. She’ll buy half of that: 'I have never died, so this entire book is a fool’s advice.' But only half: 'We are future corpses pretending we don’t know.' In 240 pages, she tells us what we need to know. Without New Age feel-good cosmology. With no inspirational message. Just liberating facts, great stories and eye-opening practicality. It’s about dying better - and about living better.
The book is written in a gentle tone, but without euphemisms, as you would hope to hear from the person who sits beside to tell you that you are going to die. Someday. That is Tisdale's mission, as is the mission of the 'good death' movement ... Tisdale is as plainspoken about grief as she is about the process of moving toward death. This, too, is refreshing ... Tisdale offers some scientific evidence that grief is large and luminous.