From Helpful Media: "It's a Matter of Life and Death: Growing Up in a Funeral Home and What I Learned Since" - Lawrence J Danks

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How can a book that talks about death and funerals have anything to do with happiness? The focus though is on life - and living a happier one - not on death.

Noted author of the "Fifty Classics" series,Tom Butler-Bowdon says this on the cover of "It’s a Matter of Life and Death: Growing Up in a Funeral Home and What I Learned Since" by Lawrence J. Danks: "Larry's book combines positive psychology, motivation and memoir to provide a powerful reminder to really live while we are alive, regretting nothing. His lively reminiscences of growing up in a funeral home are not morbid, but lie in the tradition of a Zen Buddhist meditation on death: facing the great uncertainty and inevitability of death, we are reminded of the opportunity to love, and most of all, to be grateful for everything."

"It's a Matter of Life and Death" is intended to help anyone who is

  • seeking happiness
  • curious about life in a funeral home
  • facing a serious illness or knows someone else who is grieving and working their way back toward recovery
  • a health care provider, counselor, or practitioner in the funeral industry trying to help others cope with illness or loss

Samples from over eighty topics include:

Part I: Seeking Happiness -~ Finding Happiness: It's about finding true gratification,not hedonism or smiley faces.

  • Death Teaches Us to Value Life Even More
  • Take the Long View: Plan to Live to Be One Hundred
  • It's Never Too Late To Make a Difference in Your Life and in Those of Others
  • Get Better Sleep: It Can Make a Big Difference
  • Advice from Courageous Survivors and Physicians For Those Facing a Terminal Illness
  • Your Thinking Probably Needs Some Improvement
  • Mid-Life Crisis is Not a Crisis

Part II - Growing Up in a Funeral Home

  • My Father, the Coroner
  • My Sister, the Embalmer
  • My Parent's Faith
  • The Importance of Humility
  • The Medical Examiner's Office and Autopsies
  • The Critical Importance of Having a Will
  • Do Funeral Directors Charge Too Much?
  • Life in the Funeral Home
  • The Condition of the Body
  • Cosmetic and Presentation Skills

Part III - The Takeaway from Seven Decades

  • Drug Abuse
  • Giving the Ego a Rest
  • Hospice Care - It Should Often Start Sooner
  • Finding What to Say at Viewings and Funerals
  • Eulogies Can Be Excellent Teachers
  • After Things Are Over, It Can Get Awfully Lonely
  • Advice from a Grief Counselor on Handling Grief and Loss and Moving Ahead
  • Thinking We Understand Death
  • People Who Die Before Their Time
  • Honoring Those Who Died, but Honoring Yourself Too
  • Life after the Death of a Partner

Danks says, “No one clamors to read about death and funerals,but people have a curiosity about what happens in funeral homes – even though they don’t necessarily want to live in one. A frequent question I got as a boy was, ‘How can you live there?’ It was easy. My sister and I never knew anything different than living over one. It was a blessing though. It taught us about life and about what truly matters – finding happiness and peace.”

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Lawrence Danks
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Lawrence J Danks