Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Review of Facing Death and the Life After by Billy Graham

Facing Death is Something Most People Prefer Not to Think About

It is difficult for people to face their own mortality. We all like to think we'll have the time we need to do all we want or think we should do. But like it or not, death often comes when we least expect it. Whether we need to prepare for our own death or help another prepare,  Facing Death and the Life After by Billy Graham will help. 

Review of Facing Death and the Life After by Billy Graham

How Relevant is This Book for You?

This book was sitting on my mother's bookshelf, now mine. I decided to read it because it was there. I know my own death could come at any time. I'm 73. My dad died at 70 and my mom at 89. Both died of cancer. I have witnessed the deaths of my mother and my husband's mother. I have lost several others I have loved, including both of my children and two very close friends. I wondered what Billy Graham could say to me that I hadn't heard before. 

To be honest, the book surprised me. I guess I expected that since Billy Graham was a Christian evangelist, the book would be like a long sermon on getting ready to meet one's Maker. It did include that -- mostly in the last chapter. The rest of the book dealt with the fear of death, the grieving process, and setting one's house in order before death. It was very practical. 

The Fear of Death


Review of Facing Death and the Life After by Billy Graham


Many of us are not so afraid of what happens after we die as we are of the dying process itself. Very few of us know how we will die. I can assume I will die of cancer because my parents did, but I also could be killed instantly in an accident as my son was. 

With the way the world is going, we might be in the wrong place at the wrong time and suffer an evil attack by another person intent on hurting us. We might even go the way most people would like to -- quietly in our sleep.

I think if we are being honest, many of us do fear the process of dying,  especially if we might die a lingering and/or painful death. Billy Graham gives advice on how to face even that. 

Dealing with the Grieving Process

Graham has counseled many who are about to die and their loved ones they leave behind. He has given us very helpful information on helping those who are nearing death. He urges us not to pretend that a dying person isn't dying. Many facing death do want to talk about it. We should be willing to listen and deal with their fears and questions. This book helps with that. It also helps you understand what a bereaved person may be going through and how you can best help. 


Setting One's House in Order

Have you ever hesitated to have a conversation with an aging parent about such things as whether they have made a will or trust or what kind of death arrangements they may have made? Many people don't know how to approach such a conversation. Some parents try to initiate these conversations with adult children, and the children brush them off. 

Graham urges everyone to plan for their deaths and what will become of their material possessions. He even suggests planning your own funeral or memorial service. Why? To make everything easier for your family. Why should they be left guessing what you want or where the bankbooks are? If we truly love our spouse and children, we will make sure we do our best to provide for them when we are gone. Graham gives very practical advice for setting your house in order long before you may think you will need it. 


Ethical Issues Related to Death


Review of Facing Death and the Life After by Billy Graham


I found discussions of the ethical questions surrounding death to be one of the more valuable parts of the book. Fifty years ago people did not need advanced directives or living wills because there were not so many ways one could artificially prolong life. 

Graham deals with suicide, euthanasia, when or whether to pull the plug when all hope seems gone, refusing heroic measures to prolong life, hospice care, and just about any other issue the dying and their loved ones need to think through. These discussions are very practical. I'm urging my husband to read this because we both need to think more carefully about the way our lives should end if either of us has to make a difficult and painful decision. 

Other Topics Graham Covers in Facing Death

Billy Graham covers attitudes toward death and its meaning as seen in cultures and religions worldwide. He talks about the "conspiracy of silence" surrounding death, the tendency to deny approaching death, and the stages of accepting that one is going to die. He discusses how some well-known people have faced their deaths and prepared for them. 


Graham gives his own answers to these questions:
  • Why do some people die "too soon"?
  • How do you explain death to a child? 
  • Are there stages of death? 
  • What, exactly, is death?
  • Should we be afraid of death?
  • What about divine healing?
  • What is the difference between active and passive euthanasia?
  • How do I help a grieving person?

Theological Questions Graham Answers

Graham is bold in stating his beliefs on what happens after we die. He sees death as the last enemy and one Jesus conquered. He provides answers from the Bible to these questions many wonder about . 
  • Is there a Heaven and Hell?
  • What are they like?
  • Where will I go when I die?
  • Will everyone die?
  • What is the Judgement Seat of Christ? 
  • Is it true we will get new bodies in Heaven? 
  • How can I make sure I'm going to Heaven?

Who Should Read This Book?

I think every adult will find useful information in this book, even those who are not Christians. Much of the book deals with practical matters such as planning for one's death, settling one's affairs, making the best decision possible if you are ever faced with determining if life support should be withdrawn from a loved one, and other issues you may not even realize it's time to think through. 

Christians will find answers to questions that may have puzzled them about death and what comes after death. I like Graham's balanced approach to controversial theological questions. He doesn't take a dogmatic stand on questions about the end times and the rapture, and he comes out against those who claim to be able to predict when Christ will return. He sticks to what the Bible clearly teaches and stays away from those issues which are hotly debated by evangelical theologians. 

If you are terminally ill or know someone who is, this book will definitely help you. It gently explains what you can expect during your remaining time and how to prepare yourself or a loved one for a fast-approaching death. Graham explains the mission of hospice ministries and is supportive of them. 


Where Can I Get Facing Death?


Facing Death is now out of print. It is available used at Amazon, and there is also an audio book available. You can use the links below to purchase these. There are also several copies of this book in different editions on eBay. 


My Own Experiences with Death

It's never too early to prepare to face your death or that of someone you love. My son died in an accident at only 14. We weren't ready to face it. I was better prepared when it was time to face my mother's cancer death and help her through it. I was with her when she took that last journey. You can read our story in Caring for a Dying Loved One. My daughter died by her own hand. I wrote her story as Sarah: The Suicide of Our Adult Child.  All these articles are free to read. 


Book Review of Facing Death and the Life After by Billy Graham



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Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article.

9 comments:

  1. Sounds like a good book to read for anyone but especially those who are dealing with a dying loved one. My aunt is dying right now so I think I will try to find this book about facing death for my cousin. Timely review, thank you.

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    1. I wish I'd read this several years ago and given it to my friend -- a friend who later commit suicide.

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  2. Barbara, many years ago my dad faced the possibility of death and he told me after surviving that time that the biggest thing he learned was to no longer 'fear' death. After our talk, I found I felt the same way. My parents made advance plans so that when the time DID come, the arrangements were very easy for the family to follow. This book sounds like a very practical plan for everyone as although we hope to stay around for awhile, it's helpful to know how to face the time we --- or someone we love -- dies. Thank you for this review.

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    1. My parents did their estate planning in a very fair way with their trust. They wanted to make sure my brother and I would both be happy with it and not find anything to be bitter about. The death arrangements were also in place for my mom. I don't know about Dad, but I was with Mom when she dealt with the mortuary. We have our own trust written now and wills updated, but we have not yet made death arrangements. We need to do it.

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  3. I always admired Billy Graham and have read several of his books in the past. As you correctly assessed, thinking about death is not something I want to do. Therefore, planning for death and all of the legal documents is something I would rather avoid. However, I do have a will, etc. Still, I am certain I would cull a great deal of practical advice from the book based on what you have shared. I'll make sure to add it to my reading list. I'll simply be selective about "when" I want to delve into its depths.

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    1. I can understand that. I just ordered another book by Graham as he got nearer to his own death. I hope to get it today. It's probably sitting in my mailbox now. I miss the days when all mail was delivered to my door. Now I have to walk a block to pick it up.

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  4. Oh my dear Barbara, I know how painful it is to lose someone far too young and these books are sure to help many people. All I can say is that a good prayer life helps through some of these dark days and nights. When my brother passed away, I prayed that I would not have to make the decision to pull his plug and in His mercy, my brother's heart just slowly stopped beating. I was so thankful. These are hard decisions but you are so right, these dialogues should be had with our families. Thank you for such a touching and heart felt review.

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    1. I'm so glad you were spared from having to make that decision. I hope I never have to make it for my husband or he for me. It was a mercy that my son's death was instant and not lingering, though I wish I'd been there for him. We so did not want him to go that day, but we could not justify not giving him a day off when he'd been working so hard to help my husband every day. He really wanted to go. He deserved a day of fun. But we had a really horrible feeling when he left that morning. The heaviness lasted all day until we got the bad news. As you say, prayer helps us get through the tough times.

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  5. Excellent review of a wonderful book on a difficult topic. We've had so many deaths in our family in the last several years, most from disease so with some time given to prepare. This book sounds perfect to help answer the difficult questions that often linger, as well as those of us whose time is shorter every day.

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