Book Recommendation: “Talking About Death Won’t Kill You” by Dr. Kathy Kortes-Miller

Book Recommendation: “Talking About Death Won’t Kill You” by Dr. Kathy Kortes-Miller

Talking About Death Won’t Kill You sounds like a story-book title, but it is actually a nonfiction book packed with “informational how-to’s” – as in how to talk about death and is written by Kathy Kortes-Miller – a palliative care educator and researcher.

It is a wonderful book to read whether you are a healthcare provider or someone curious about the topic of death. In ten chapters, Dr. Kortes-Miller gently walks the reader through some very difficult material that could otherwise be very dry. She addresses topics such as why it’s important to have conversations about end-of-life before death is imminent, how to talk about death with children, and how to talk to healthcare providers about care after a terminal diagnosis. Kortes-Miller broaches the discussion of what it means to hold space for someone who is dying and how to do so.

I would recommend this book to healthcare providers as well as ‘normal’ people. Dr. Kortes-Miller writes in a conversational tone that is approachable for anyone! She uses her own stories to showcase aspects of each topic, and also provides thought-provoking questions for the reader to consider.

As a reader, I found the book rich but also digestible. Like a rich food, it’s delicious, but you can’t eat it all at once; you eat a bit then come back for more. It’s because there is so much information delivered in such an easy way that you have to put it down to be able to absorb what you’ve just read! Each chapter gives you stories, thoughts, questions to think about, and answers to questions you didn’t even know you had, such as what good-byes are like. For example,

We tend to think that good-byes need to be momentous occasions. In reality, if you are actively engaged in holding space for someone who is dying, you may say good-bye several times as your loved one moves through the dying process. Still, try not to wait until the last minute to say the things that you want to say.
When death is near, make an effort to end each conversation as though it might be your last with that person – you want to know that you’ll feel OK if it turns out to be the last time that you speak.

p. 136, Talking About Death Won’t Kill You

Dr. Kortes-Miller provides a resource list and an index at the end of the book for adults. However, one of my favourite things is the short dictionary of definitions written to be simple and clear for kids. Such as:

Cremation: This is a process that occurs after a person has died. It is when a dead body is put through very high heat, like in a fire or furnace, causing it to break down into small pieces that look like sand or dirt. Some people choose to do this instead of being buried in a coffin in the ground.

p. 77, Talking About Death Won’t Kill You

Overall, this book would be perfect to have laying on a coffee table, in a physician’s waiting room or as part of a book club. It’s a bit denser than a normal coffee table book, but readers will come back to it again and again to get a bit more information each time!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

From Our Blog

Shopping cart0
There are no products in the cart!
Continue shopping

Join now to receive tips and insights on providing palliative care.

Courtney Murrell is a PSW who works in hospice palliative care.

When she is not at work, she is spending time with her family, going on hikes or writing. Courtney is a lifelong learner and loves to share her passion for writing as a wellness practice.

Skip to content