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Feb 23
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Dying Well: A Book and Community Conversation

With Richard Reoch and Ron Schultz

Article by Ron Schultz

“I thought I was preparing for death. And in reality, I learned I was preparing to live more fully.”

When Richard Reoch wrote Dying Well, his impetus was an awareness that people didn’t know what to say to people dying or to those diagnosed with a terminal illness. ”There’s a kind of fear or inhibition that grips people emotionally and mentally,” Richard said via Zoom from his London home. “It’s almost like their vocal chords seize up when they are told they have a terminal illness or when they get the news that someone has died. Afterwards they often feel that whatever they said was either superficial or not what they felt in their hearts. I began to realize that there are many ways in which one can express what is in one’s heart.”

The original publisher of Dying Well, Gaia Books, pioneered books on complementary medicine and healing therapies from herbs and oils, to breathwork and massage. “I thought these therapies could be beneficial in the care of the dying,” Richard told me, “as well as those caring for them. For example, we can communicate through touch, through our energetic presence, through meditative practices and through the ability to be still, present, and completely accommodating in support of the person on their journey.”

This was timely information when the book was written and even more so today when the ravages of a pandemic have made us all come face to face with our mortality. The Eightfold Collection, an imprint of Wipf and Stock Publishers, specializing in bringing back out of print books on mindfulness, meditation and the Buddhist Path, came to Richard and offered to republish the book. It was clear that now was the time to give Dying Well an auspicious rebirth.

Community Conversations

With the recent release of the book, it became clear that it provided a great opportunity to hold a larger conversation on death and dying well with the community as a whole. The first of these conversations with Richard and guests will take place on March 13th and the second, on April 3rd. Both live events will be hosted by Shambhala Online and will be recorded.

Dr. Maria Lewis on her day off, dancing to Bob Marley and bringing joy to various departments throughout Woodland Memorial Hospital.

Each 90-minute conversation will include and feature two authorities who work in the field along with some special guests. The first session on Saturday, March 13th will include live discussions with Dr. Maria Lewis, a hospital physician in a northern California community hospital, where, among many things, she helps families navigate intensive care to meet the goals of chronically or critically-ill patients. Previously, Dr. Lewis was also a hospice director.  We will also speak with Joshua Northcutt, a registered Nurse since 1994, who currently focuses on Hospice and Palliative Care in Los Angeles and Orange Counties, primarily dealing with Asian communities.

During this session, Richard and his guests will discuss Death Matters – preparing for and caring for those who are dying in and around COVID-19, and Loving and Caring – caring for the caregivers.

The second conversation on Saturday, April 3rd, will feature Melanie Klein, an ordained Buddhist chaplain in the Shambhala tradition. Melanie is also currently serving as Director of Operations for the International Shambhala Organization. We will also hear from Anne Lepelaars, from the Netherlands, who is providing psycho-social support as part of humanitarian assistance to victims of mass violence in Iraq. The topics Richard and his guests will discuss include Giving and Letting Go and Working with Mass Death and Trauma.

In addition, there will be a special segment featuring Laguna/Santa Domingo Pueblo elder and acclaimed storyteller, Larry Littlebird, in which Richard and Larry will discuss the noble tradition of dying in different cultures. And contributions by centenarian poet, Peggy Aylsworth, and a personal essay by octogenarian essayist, Norm Levine.

Registration is available at Shambhala Online www.shambhalaonline.org/ or by clicking here!


A special 40% discount on purchasing a copy of Dying Well, is available from Wipf and Stock at the following link: Dying Well- Wipf and Stock Publishers. To receive the discount, make sure to apply the code Reoch40 at checkout.

Editor’s note: A previous version of this article attributed its writing to Sophie Leger. The author is Ron Schultz.

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1 response to “ Dying Well: A Book and Community Conversation ”
  1. Kristine Mccutcheon
    Feb 24, 2021

    Thanks Sophie for bringing this to our attention, (Book ordered!)

    As a community we also have a lot of collective resources in various centres – Maybe we could have a resource page somewhere as a result of these conversations. Another book I have found to be quite helpful is There is more to dying than death, a buddhist perspective by Lama Shenpen Hookam. Looking forward to these conversations. Kristine

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