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Heartwood: The Art of Living with the End in Mind

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“We can do extraordinary things when we lead with love,” Barbara Becker reminds us in her debut memoir Heartwood. When her earliest childhood friend is diagnosed with a terminal illness, Becker sets off on a quest to immerse herself in what it means to be mortal. Can we live our lives more fully knowing some day we will die? With a keen eye towards that which makes life wort “We can do extraordinary things when we lead with love,” Barbara Becker reminds us in her debut memoir Heartwood. When her earliest childhood friend is diagnosed with a terminal illness, Becker sets off on a quest to immerse herself in what it means to be mortal. Can we live our lives more fully knowing some day we will die? With a keen eye towards that which makes life worth living, Barbara Becker—a perpetual seeker, a mom, and an interfaith leader—recounts stories where life and death intersect in unexpected ways. She volunteers on a hospice floor, becomes an eager student of the many ways people find meaning at the end of life, and accompanies her parents in their final days. Becker inspires readers to live with the end in mind and proves that turning toward loss rather than away from it is the only true way to live life to its fullest. Just as with the heartwood of a tree—the central core that is no longer alive yet supports the newer growth rings—the dead become an enduring source of strength to the living. With life-affirming prose, Becker helps us see that that grief is not a problem to be solved, but rather a sacred invitation—an opportunity to let go into something even greater…a love that will inform all the days of our lives.


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“We can do extraordinary things when we lead with love,” Barbara Becker reminds us in her debut memoir Heartwood. When her earliest childhood friend is diagnosed with a terminal illness, Becker sets off on a quest to immerse herself in what it means to be mortal. Can we live our lives more fully knowing some day we will die? With a keen eye towards that which makes life wort “We can do extraordinary things when we lead with love,” Barbara Becker reminds us in her debut memoir Heartwood. When her earliest childhood friend is diagnosed with a terminal illness, Becker sets off on a quest to immerse herself in what it means to be mortal. Can we live our lives more fully knowing some day we will die? With a keen eye towards that which makes life worth living, Barbara Becker—a perpetual seeker, a mom, and an interfaith leader—recounts stories where life and death intersect in unexpected ways. She volunteers on a hospice floor, becomes an eager student of the many ways people find meaning at the end of life, and accompanies her parents in their final days. Becker inspires readers to live with the end in mind and proves that turning toward loss rather than away from it is the only true way to live life to its fullest. Just as with the heartwood of a tree—the central core that is no longer alive yet supports the newer growth rings—the dead become an enduring source of strength to the living. With life-affirming prose, Becker helps us see that that grief is not a problem to be solved, but rather a sacred invitation—an opportunity to let go into something even greater…a love that will inform all the days of our lives.

30 review for Heartwood: The Art of Living with the End in Mind

  1. 5 out of 5

    Susan Kayne

    This little gem of a book is one to savor – read slowly, word by word, pause and contemplate. When you have finished, pass the book along to someone else as a random act of kindness. No matter who you are, how different your life experience may be from author Barbara Becker's, you will relate to the humanity she infuses on every page. When we take time to connect the dots, the journey from birth to death is endlessly fascinating. This little gem of a book is one to savor – read slowly, word by word, pause and contemplate. When you have finished, pass the book along to someone else as a random act of kindness. No matter who you are, how different your life experience may be from author Barbara Becker's, you will relate to the humanity she infuses on every page. When we take time to connect the dots, the journey from birth to death is endlessly fascinating.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen Gray

    What a lovely thoughtful and timely book this is. The death of Becker's friend led her to examine everything she'd known and assumed about the end of life. Her volunteer work at a hospice was illuminating for her and for me as well. This isn't suffused with grief but rather about how grief is part of life. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. I'm not going a good job of describing this slim volume and I never thought I'd recommend a book about dying but this is about more than dying- it's about livi What a lovely thoughtful and timely book this is. The death of Becker's friend led her to examine everything she'd known and assumed about the end of life. Her volunteer work at a hospice was illuminating for her and for me as well. This isn't suffused with grief but rather about how grief is part of life. Thanks to Netgalley for the ARC. I'm not going a good job of describing this slim volume and I never thought I'd recommend a book about dying but this is about more than dying- it's about living- and I highly recommend it.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Karen Ng

    A nice book helping the reader making sense in a world that is unpredictable; the author used experience in her own life as well as some of her friends and family. The book is in the same category as Matt Haag's The Comfort Book and Jane Gooddall's The Book of Hope, but reading this book was like listening to the stories of a friend so quite personal while the other two were more detached for me. A nice book helping the reader making sense in a world that is unpredictable; the author used experience in her own life as well as some of her friends and family. The book is in the same category as Matt Haag's The Comfort Book and Jane Gooddall's The Book of Hope, but reading this book was like listening to the stories of a friend so quite personal while the other two were more detached for me.

  4. 5 out of 5

    Mystic Miraflores

    This is a thoughtful and authentic book which made me consider how to try to live each day fully, find miracles in something everyday, continue to devote my time and effort to community service, and try to be more empathetic with people. However, with the last point, I will need some kind of training. I believe I have some empathy, but I can certainly have more. I appreciate the author's perspective that we can learn something from all religions and cultures. I look forward to future books by th This is a thoughtful and authentic book which made me consider how to try to live each day fully, find miracles in something everyday, continue to devote my time and effort to community service, and try to be more empathetic with people. However, with the last point, I will need some kind of training. I believe I have some empathy, but I can certainly have more. I appreciate the author's perspective that we can learn something from all religions and cultures. I look forward to future books by the author.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Carol Orange

    Barbara Becker has examined the taboo subject of death and turned it on its head. She embraces our fears with love and acceptance. Growing up as the only daughter ( she has two brothers) of a doctor and nurse Barbara was no stranger to illness, but when cancer took her childhood friend Marisa’s life, she was heartbroken. Yet Marisa’s untimely death also taught her to appreciate life’s ebb and flow more fiercely than ever. Barbara has always been drawn to helping others, first in Bangladesh where Barbara Becker has examined the taboo subject of death and turned it on its head. She embraces our fears with love and acceptance. Growing up as the only daughter ( she has two brothers) of a doctor and nurse Barbara was no stranger to illness, but when cancer took her childhood friend Marisa’s life, she was heartbroken. Yet Marisa’s untimely death also taught her to appreciate life’s ebb and flow more fiercely than ever. Barbara has always been drawn to helping others, first in Bangladesh where she risked her life interviewing entrepreneurial women who benefited from microloans. She worked as a hospice volunteer bringing comfort to those who were dying, some without any loved ones to mourn their loss. When it came time for Barbara to help her wonderful parents face death she did so with unconditional love and dedicated care. It touched my heart to read about the tender ways in which she was there for them to the very end. All of us can learn from Barbara Becker’s many examples of “living life with the end in mind.” She has found inspiration in nature as well as from life experiences. Recently she has become an ordained interfaith minister so that now she operates in a more official capacity, but her genuine love for people comes through no matter what the circumstances. I highly recommend this gem of a book. I promise that it will enhance your life to get to know Barbara as you follow her meaningful journey through its pages.

  6. 5 out of 5

    Artemisia Hunt

    A beautiful book with a powerful message about facing the ultimate truth about life—that it is temporary—and turning that realization into a way of living that is fuller, richer and centered on the love we all share. Barbara Becker takes this lesson to heart as she throws herself into a quest to explore the miracle of life even in its most final stages. She volunteers in a hospice, takes part in a Native American ceremony at the site of a previous indigenous massacre, and also supports some of h A beautiful book with a powerful message about facing the ultimate truth about life—that it is temporary—and turning that realization into a way of living that is fuller, richer and centered on the love we all share. Barbara Becker takes this lesson to heart as she throws herself into a quest to explore the miracle of life even in its most final stages. She volunteers in a hospice, takes part in a Native American ceremony at the site of a previous indigenous massacre, and also supports some of her own loved ones through the dying process. Turning to meditation practice and ritual to deepen her own understanding of life, she eventually decides to dedicate herself to becoming an interfaith minister. With all of her due diligence, willingness to learn and most of all, her sincere and compassionate heart, Becker gives us all an inspiring blueprint for learning to live “with the end in mind”.

  7. 5 out of 5

    Jakki Kenney

    What a beautiful book. I’m not a religious person but I’ve always found myself connecting and appreciating the practices of the spiritual/religious views of all that mankind practices. Well the author does this. She connects them all in a beautiful and dedicating way. Not just in life but In death which the book most focuses on. I’ve been searching for a sense of healing/peace/answers since my dads passing in 2019 and this book provided so many different perspectives. Very grateful for this gift What a beautiful book. I’m not a religious person but I’ve always found myself connecting and appreciating the practices of the spiritual/religious views of all that mankind practices. Well the author does this. She connects them all in a beautiful and dedicating way. Not just in life but In death which the book most focuses on. I’ve been searching for a sense of healing/peace/answers since my dads passing in 2019 and this book provided so many different perspectives. Very grateful for this gifted ARC from flat iron books. If you are grieving I highly recommend this book.

  8. 4 out of 5

    Sierra Slater

    At first after reading 3/4 of this book I was going to give three stars. The last quarter struck a cord with me though and I cried many times. Death can be looked at in such a beautiful perspective and like Becker said, grief can become a beautiful expression of love. This book reminded me of loved ones I’ve lost in my life and reminded me to cherish every day with my loved ones. As a Christian I have an especially sweeter view of death knowing those who lived their life for Jesus now get to be At first after reading 3/4 of this book I was going to give three stars. The last quarter struck a cord with me though and I cried many times. Death can be looked at in such a beautiful perspective and like Becker said, grief can become a beautiful expression of love. This book reminded me of loved ones I’ve lost in my life and reminded me to cherish every day with my loved ones. As a Christian I have an especially sweeter view of death knowing those who lived their life for Jesus now get to be with Jesus for eternity. This doesn’t mean I don’t miss them. “Life was never meant to be about our self-interests but about being a source of love for others” page 186.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Maggi LeDuc

    A friend sent me this book to help me as I process my own grief. The author, her sister-in-law, has similar thoughts on confronting death during life as I do, she told me. I went into this book cautiously, not one for anything like self-help. I devoured it. I had to slow myself down by consciously putting the book down so I could think about the chapters I read. My friend was right, I connected with Barbara's views on death and I'm so grateful to her for sending me this and giving me the space to A friend sent me this book to help me as I process my own grief. The author, her sister-in-law, has similar thoughts on confronting death during life as I do, she told me. I went into this book cautiously, not one for anything like self-help. I devoured it. I had to slow myself down by consciously putting the book down so I could think about the chapters I read. My friend was right, I connected with Barbara's views on death and I'm so grateful to her for sending me this and giving me the space to read it when I was ready.

  10. 5 out of 5

    Laurie Hall

    What an inspirational read! I read it cover-to-cover in one day; I couldn't put it down. Instead of fearing death or denying that we will all have an ending to life, the author re-frames facing death as an integral part of life, giving meaning to our everyday lives. She spent a year of living as if it were her last year of life and found that she was more loving and more grounded in the present. She was more open to the miracles of everyday life. This is such a spiritual book and so timely after What an inspirational read! I read it cover-to-cover in one day; I couldn't put it down. Instead of fearing death or denying that we will all have an ending to life, the author re-frames facing death as an integral part of life, giving meaning to our everyday lives. She spent a year of living as if it were her last year of life and found that she was more loving and more grounded in the present. She was more open to the miracles of everyday life. This is such a spiritual book and so timely after 14 months of so much fear and loss during the COVID-19 pandemic. I know that I will keep coming back to this book, particularly when my parents and other elderly relatives and friends begin to pass away.

  11. 4 out of 5

    Sherri Puzey

    53 // HEARTWOOD: The Art of Living with the End in Mind is a wonderful new resource for those who are grieving or caring for ill loved ones. Barbara Becker explores what we can learn from death and how our being open to death can in fact teach us how to live. Through stories of loved ones and those she cared for in Hospice, Barbara approaches death and dying with great tenderness and wisdom, allowing us to see that grief can be a beautiful expression of love.

  12. 5 out of 5

    Linda

    I came to the realization that in order to live, one must not be afraid to.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Linda Hutchinson

    ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I am not afraid to die. I simply hate to leave those I love behind. Don’t we all? The book’s a good reminder of the wonderful things we have yet to accomplish. But, the older I get, the more I realize that living in the present, with the end in mind, is essential. It gives us a loving reminder to enjoy the now and live fully with the luxurious time given to us. Heartwood by Barbara Becker, reminds us that our lives are always in flux, changes flitter around, we adapt, we learn and grow ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ I am not afraid to die. I simply hate to leave those I love behind. Don’t we all? The book’s a good reminder of the wonderful things we have yet to accomplish. But, the older I get, the more I realize that living in the present, with the end in mind, is essential. It gives us a loving reminder to enjoy the now and live fully with the luxurious time given to us. Heartwood by Barbara Becker, reminds us that our lives are always in flux, changes flitter around, we adapt, we learn and grow, and then we journey on. As the author quotes Meher Baba: “Death isn’t the end; It’s only the end of this body.” A tree when cut up, is comprised of many rings, and the middle and toughest ring is called the heartwood. So it is with our hearts, we have loving memories of those who have gone ahead and those who surround us and at its core remains our heart loving outward. This is not a sad book. This is a beautiful reminder of what is essential in life. I appreciate my public library, Orlando Public Library System, @ocls where I “borrowed” this little gem. I am going to buy it to keep with my cherished books. “Out of the muck of life, beauty will emerge.” I wish you a joy-filled day. XO #life #love #loss #death #memories #living #growing #learning @barbarabeckersworld #heartwood #debutmemoir . 💝 #reading #books #bookstagram #book #peace #booksofinstagram #booklovers #bookish @ocls #lindaleereads2021 #mmdbookclub #idratherbereading #readinglife #mmdsummerreading #summerreadingguide @modernmrsdarcy #mmdchallenge #August

  14. 4 out of 5

    Suzanne

    I just finished Barbara Becker’s book and am so moved by it. It is beautifully written and intensely interesting – each and every story and her incredible insights and experiences. I found myself tearing up and then suddenly laughing out loud throughout. It brought back memories of when I was with loved ones as they took their last breath – Becker’s descriptions and feelings are so honestly written and capture the profound and truthful aspects of those moments. Also, her descriptions of the expe I just finished Barbara Becker’s book and am so moved by it. It is beautifully written and intensely interesting – each and every story and her incredible insights and experiences. I found myself tearing up and then suddenly laughing out loud throughout. It brought back memories of when I was with loved ones as they took their last breath – Becker’s descriptions and feelings are so honestly written and capture the profound and truthful aspects of those moments. Also, her descriptions of the experiences with hospice patients -- entering the room and being present; asking if she can hold their hand and then placing her hand under theirs so that they are in control; dealing with a man's anger without judgement -- all of that is so powerful and so meaningful. All of her stories: the miscarriages, loss of parents, sudden loss of friends, the park nearby and its tough history, and all the details and personalities within the stories come through so distinctly and with such human-ness. Becker’s journey is beautiful, relevant, and purposeful, and the way she shares it here is so generous and insightful. Thank you, thank you, thank you for writing this and sharing your journey so beautifully -- there are so many people I want to share this book with!

  15. 4 out of 5

    Lisa Goldberg

    What a beautiful book!! Reading Heartwood felt a bit like pausing to take a deep breath to center myself. In our culture we’re so used to turning away from death that, when eventually faced with losing a loved one, most of us meet the experience having had few conversations that would help prepare us. Yet each of us will inevitably experience the loss of loved ones, probably many times over, as well as the recognition of our own mortality. In Heartwood, Barbara Becker shares her journey to disco What a beautiful book!! Reading Heartwood felt a bit like pausing to take a deep breath to center myself. In our culture we’re so used to turning away from death that, when eventually faced with losing a loved one, most of us meet the experience having had few conversations that would help prepare us. Yet each of us will inevitably experience the loss of loved ones, probably many times over, as well as the recognition of our own mortality. In Heartwood, Barbara Becker shares her journey to discover what happens when we stop turning away from the inevitable and turn toward it instead. Through multiple lenses – as mother, daughter, friend, human rights advocate, hospice volunteer and interfaith minister – in spare and elegant language, she shares her personal stories of witnessing and grappling with death. Her stories are sometimes heartbreaking but always engaging and life affirming in the end. Much in the way of 'Tuesdays with Morrie,' they reveal how keeping in mind that we won’t live forever allows us to see more clearly what we value, and to be more fully present in life as we live it. This is a perfect book for anyone facing the loss of a loved one – which is of course all of us.

  16. 5 out of 5

    L. Bordetsky-Williams

    Barbara Becker’s stunning memoir is a courageous look at loss and dying—a taboo subject in our society. Becker breaks down these silences and offers the wisdom she has gleaned through her own experiences as well as the scholarly research she has done on this subject. Her sections on the pain of seeing parents grow older, frailer, and then die, as well as her stunning chapter about her multiple miscarriages hit a very personal note for me. Becker opens up a dialogue that is necessary. I felt wise Barbara Becker’s stunning memoir is a courageous look at loss and dying—a taboo subject in our society. Becker breaks down these silences and offers the wisdom she has gleaned through her own experiences as well as the scholarly research she has done on this subject. Her sections on the pain of seeing parents grow older, frailer, and then die, as well as her stunning chapter about her multiple miscarriages hit a very personal note for me. Becker opens up a dialogue that is necessary. I felt wiser after reading this gem of a book. It is not easy to break down the silences of taboo subjects, but with intelligence and grace, Barbara Becker does just that in this beautiful book. What’s also amazing about Heartwood is that this is a book for all ages since she shares the evolution of her own relationship with death that started when she was just a young girl. Barbara Becker has created a book for everyone to enter and to come out with a deeper understanding of themselves.

  17. 4 out of 5

    Donna

    I almost never give a book 5 stars (because that implies there is absolutely nothing about the book that could be better, not even the jacket cover). But this book is an extraordinary exception. It's short and could be read in an afternoon, but my advice would be to spread it out, savor it, ponder it, let it seep into your own personal life. The author, an ordained interfaith minister, chronicles the way death has interspersed her life events and shares with us what she has learned. From a death I almost never give a book 5 stars (because that implies there is absolutely nothing about the book that could be better, not even the jacket cover). But this book is an extraordinary exception. It's short and could be read in an afternoon, but my advice would be to spread it out, savor it, ponder it, let it seep into your own personal life. The author, an ordained interfaith minister, chronicles the way death has interspersed her life events and shares with us what she has learned. From a death that occurred before she was born, to the sharing of an evening gatha...which I hope will remain forever on my lips...she shows us how "life and death are of supreme importance" to each of us. I was fortunate enough to have read this over the course of six weeks with my yoga book club and able to process it with them for an hour each week. My advice would be to get the book, gather some friends and read, ponder and discuss. Oh, and even the jacket cover is perfect!

  18. 5 out of 5

    Jess

    This book is a truly beautiful look at death and the many ways in which it weaves through our lives. Becker sets it up so each chapter focuses on a different person whom she's lost and both the poignancy and transcendence that accompany their deaths. I connected to so many different phrases and experiences. I'll probably buy a physical copy just to have and re-read parts (which I never do!) which really spoke to me. I was afraid the book may be preachy because as an atheist I struggle to find bo This book is a truly beautiful look at death and the many ways in which it weaves through our lives. Becker sets it up so each chapter focuses on a different person whom she's lost and both the poignancy and transcendence that accompany their deaths. I connected to so many different phrases and experiences. I'll probably buy a physical copy just to have and re-read parts (which I never do!) which really spoke to me. I was afraid the book may be preachy because as an atheist I struggle to find books about death that don't veer in that direction, but religious conversion is never a part of this story, though respect for a variety of religions is evident and gently handled throughout. An excellent look at a difficult topic whose prose felt healing in a way that left me wanting even more.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Katie

    What a powerful little book. This begins by describing a challenge that Becker took on as her childhood friend was dying of cancer: what if she lived a year of her life as if it were her last? In the subsequent pages, Becker shares so much of what she's learned about death from those around her. She's led an incredible (and quite privileged) life and has had the opportunity for a myriad of experiences. The best part is that she works hard to find reverence in all of them. I found this book fascin What a powerful little book. This begins by describing a challenge that Becker took on as her childhood friend was dying of cancer: what if she lived a year of her life as if it were her last? In the subsequent pages, Becker shares so much of what she's learned about death from those around her. She's led an incredible (and quite privileged) life and has had the opportunity for a myriad of experiences. The best part is that she works hard to find reverence in all of them. I found this book fascinating and thought-provoking and am very happy that a dear friend introduced me to it. My little journal is going to fill up in no time thanks to some of the ideas that Becker has sparked.

  20. 4 out of 5

    Lissa00

    4.5 stars. In 2019, we lost three close family members to tragic deaths. Following closely behind that year, of course, was the beginning of the pandemic and it felt like death was greatly on my mind. This book was a therapeutic read. The author talks about her own losses along with her time volunteering on the Hospice floor of a hospital. She discusses different philosophy and beliefs on dying and coming to accept that all life ends in death. This was written in a peaceful and soft way (I don't 4.5 stars. In 2019, we lost three close family members to tragic deaths. Following closely behind that year, of course, was the beginning of the pandemic and it felt like death was greatly on my mind. This book was a therapeutic read. The author talks about her own losses along with her time volunteering on the Hospice floor of a hospital. She discusses different philosophy and beliefs on dying and coming to accept that all life ends in death. This was written in a peaceful and soft way (I don't know how else to describe it) and reinforces the notion that everyone will die, and it is our acceptance of that fact that makes life and love all that much more worthwhile. I received a digital ARC of this book through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

  21. 5 out of 5

    Lisa Benne

    I just finished reading Heartwood. I was so moved by this thought-provoking book that I just ordered 4 more copies to send to family & friends. Barbara's honest and insightful book brings clarity to the connection between our lives & the acknowledgement, awareness and ultimate acceptance that death is a natural part of life. Each chapter stands on it's own but they are all connected by a thread of heartwood. I would recommend this book to anyone from teenagers thru senior citizens. I just finished reading Heartwood. I was so moved by this thought-provoking book that I just ordered 4 more copies to send to family & friends. Barbara's honest and insightful book brings clarity to the connection between our lives & the acknowledgement, awareness and ultimate acceptance that death is a natural part of life. Each chapter stands on it's own but they are all connected by a thread of heartwood. I would recommend this book to anyone from teenagers thru senior citizens.

  22. 5 out of 5

    Tami Dillon

    Find me a more lovely and meaningful book. Barbara Becker is a beautiful soul with so much to give us. I “read” this book as an audiobook while on my morning dog walks. Barbara packs this work with so many gifts. Truly Truly a gem. One to be savored. I will listen to it again, but slower…and I will make notes. Such beauty. This book has made me live my life better. Dear Barbara, thank you.

  23. 4 out of 5

    Tamara

    This was a very inspiring little book. Many stories that were touching and little snippets of inspiration that compels the reader to write them down.

  24. 5 out of 5

    Mindy

    I cannot thank Barbara Becker enough for sharing her life, words, thoughts and perspectives on loss. The losses she writes so lovingly about are about illness leading to death, and how life can rush in to fill the empty spaces--if you keep your lights on--with heart and eyes open with curiosity to see, and with courage to not blink. Her voice is a light touch as are her insights. Each chapter is focuses on a person from her life, out of which she shapes a telling anecdote. They stand on their own I cannot thank Barbara Becker enough for sharing her life, words, thoughts and perspectives on loss. The losses she writes so lovingly about are about illness leading to death, and how life can rush in to fill the empty spaces--if you keep your lights on--with heart and eyes open with curiosity to see, and with courage to not blink. Her voice is a light touch as are her insights. Each chapter is focuses on a person from her life, out of which she shapes a telling anecdote. They stand on their own. But to read it all in one sitting, as I did, is my recommendation. Neither preachy nor trite, Heartwood is a practical call to treasure the time we have and to understand our place in the lives of others. It provides a wonderful uplifting occasion to cry, especially as we are still muddling through the pandemic.

  25. 4 out of 5

    Terry Swindell

    This book was interesting. I especially liked the story behind the title. The central core of a tree is the heartwood. It is no longer alive and it never changes, but it is supported by all of the years/rings that follow it. I thought this was a beautiful analogy. Death is coming to all of us someday, and I love how she has learned from the people who came before her. The theme of this book is that while we need to grieve our losses, we also need to take these experiences and use them to build u This book was interesting. I especially liked the story behind the title. The central core of a tree is the heartwood. It is no longer alive and it never changes, but it is supported by all of the years/rings that follow it. I thought this was a beautiful analogy. Death is coming to all of us someday, and I love how she has learned from the people who came before her. The theme of this book is that while we need to grieve our losses, we also need to take these experiences and use them to build upon our lives, just like the rings in a tree.

  26. 4 out of 5

    John Corwin

    It sounds so cliché, but when I sat down recently one evening to read this book, I could not put it down until I went to sleep that night, and then I finished it the next morning. On the first page, the author writes: “In my early life, after learning that someone had to die for me to live, death had slipped quietly into my home and declared herself my teacher....But what is to be learned from death?...and what was I supposed to do with these understandings in the practical, brass-tacks way of a It sounds so cliché, but when I sat down recently one evening to read this book, I could not put it down until I went to sleep that night, and then I finished it the next morning. On the first page, the author writes: “In my early life, after learning that someone had to die for me to live, death had slipped quietly into my home and declared herself my teacher....But what is to be learned from death?...and what was I supposed to do with these understandings in the practical, brass-tacks way of a modern woman going about her daily business?” If you're curious, read this book! This is a moving, inspiring, generous and loving account by a gifted storyteller of her pathway towards understanding that (again in her words) “life and death cannot exist separately from each other” and that “trusting the natural cycle of life and loss can help us to better live our lives.” Her account of her life brings these generalities into vivid relief, and offers great wisdom along the way.

  27. 4 out of 5

    Ranjit Singh

    Heartwood: The Art of Living with the End in Mind This book is written by someone who guides you with prose that not only has great clarity but prose that has a wit and verve that belies the subject matter. She writes from the heart without mawkish sentimentality. Her writing is informed by her personal family experiences and her time as a volunteer counsellor in a New York hospice. The book carried me along like a John Le Carre thriller and I ended up reading the whole book in day. I think this Heartwood: The Art of Living with the End in Mind This book is written by someone who guides you with prose that not only has great clarity but prose that has a wit and verve that belies the subject matter. She writes from the heart without mawkish sentimentality. Her writing is informed by her personal family experiences and her time as a volunteer counsellor in a New York hospice. The book carried me along like a John Le Carre thriller and I ended up reading the whole book in day. I think this book is essential reading for anyone who wants to understand how they can respond to the loss of a loved one and how one can prepare for our own mortality with grace.

  28. 4 out of 5

    Sandy Barker

    Heartwood by Barbara Becker is a book that I was not looking forward to reading because of the subtitle, "The Art of Living with the End in Mind." It made me feel like it was going to be a self-help book, and as a counselor who has helped students who have lost parents and siblings, and as a daughter with 85-year-old parents, I just wasn't feeling up to this topic. However, from the first story of the author's best friend who dies from cancer, and how this experience propels her to want to lear Heartwood by Barbara Becker is a book that I was not looking forward to reading because of the subtitle, "The Art of Living with the End in Mind." It made me feel like it was going to be a self-help book, and as a counselor who has helped students who have lost parents and siblings, and as a daughter with 85-year-old parents, I just wasn't feeling up to this topic. However, from the first story of the author's best friend who dies from cancer, and how this experience propels her to want to learn more about living with death, the stories were handled beautifully and had great lessons. I really feel like this is a book that I need to have as a reference book, and one that I should go back to and read several times. I believe it could help many people, individually, come to terms with death and their feelings about it.

  29. 5 out of 5

    Danielle

    Coming to terms with the place of death in life’s journey is not easy. As a Catholic, my own beliefs and rituals provide a foundational lens of understanding, but Barbara Becker’s book calls out the symmetry across faith traditions. Ritual and reverence - not particularly in vogue - but absolutely essential. The author weaves the stories of the ways death touches her life in rings. The interconnection of her own life, the deaths of dear family and friends, the deaths of strangers show through as Coming to terms with the place of death in life’s journey is not easy. As a Catholic, my own beliefs and rituals provide a foundational lens of understanding, but Barbara Becker’s book calls out the symmetry across faith traditions. Ritual and reverence - not particularly in vogue - but absolutely essential. The author weaves the stories of the ways death touches her life in rings. The interconnection of her own life, the deaths of dear family and friends, the deaths of strangers show through as rings on the trunk of a tree, continuing the metaphor and imagery of Heartwood. I cried throughout this book, repeatedly - not only when I felt connection between my own experience of death and the author’s - but often at the simplicity of the truths her stories revealed. Reading this book was a healing and growing experience for me, and I will be passing it on to others.

  30. 4 out of 5

    Isabella

    “I was willing to see that what was happening wasn’t so much a roadblock keeping me from my life- it was my life. It wasn’t all what I had wished for but it was mine to work with, to make sense of” “In the face of the hardest things we will experience, be as a boulder in a rushing mountain stream. listen. take your time. the next move will emerge from the stillness. this is how we go forward, step-by-step, infusing darkness with light” If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, “I was willing to see that what was happening wasn’t so much a roadblock keeping me from my life- it was my life. It wasn’t all what I had wished for but it was mine to work with, to make sense of” “In the face of the hardest things we will experience, be as a boulder in a rushing mountain stream. listen. take your time. the next move will emerge from the stillness. this is how we go forward, step-by-step, infusing darkness with light” If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours - Walden There is no remedy for love but to love more -Thoreau “All of my valuables walk on two feet” “Uncertainties and obstacles can nudge us into waking up a little, if we let them.”

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