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Lasting Words

A Guide to Finding Meaning Toward the Close of Life

Lasting Words by Claire Willis
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Faced with the ultimate challenge of life-confronting your death-how would you want to be remembered? Are there stories you want to tell? Experiences you want to relay? Explanations about how you felt and why? Maybe you wish to ensure that future generations know your family lore. Perhaps you seek meaning and purpose and don't know how to access them. It's likely that you seek comfort and strength. But at the same time a deep desire to heal unresolved issues may unsettle you. And reaching for a spiritual connection may be the path you want to find.  There is a way to do all these things, as overwhelming as they may seem. The answer is Lasting Words: A Guide to Finding Meaning Toward the Close of Life by Claire B. Willis. Her experience as a clinical social worker, an ordained lay Buddhist chaplain and a licensed yoga teacher led to the creation of this indispensable book. Each chapter is based on commonly identified end-of-life concerns from research, coupled with her own experience, over two decades, of leading writing groups for profoundly ill people.  Unlike other "writing journals," Lasting Words takes into account the physical limitations of the writer. One short chapter focuses solely on relaxation and meditation and sets the stage for the writing to be more easeful, openhearted and meaningful.   From there, the author leads the way from Journey to Gratitude, Hope, Forgiveness, Wisdom, Prayer and, finally, Endings. Each chapter includes, with encouraging suggestions, an invitation to reflect and write. Also included are poems and quotations that pertain to the chapter subject, as well as relaxation exercises, questions to ask oneself and closing meditations. And the reflective photographs throughout are as soothing as they are healing.  But most powerful are the stories of people who wrote their own lasting words. You'll meet Christina, who thought that her lack of travel made her uninteresting. Her writing took her to places she never expected to go. There is James, the young father who discovered that being hopeless just didn't suit him. And you'll read about Joan, a lifelong grudge-holder who realized that there are more important things to hold onto, as well as let go of, at the end of a life.  For every person who wondered how to express who they are, and the people who strive to help them, Lasting Words is a precious gift. Therapists and clergy, family and friends and caregivers of every kind will find it essential. And for every person who wishes to leave a unique legacy, the means to do so are at their fingertips.  With astute understanding of the needs of the soul, Claire Willis brings solace to those who want to give a permanent gift and the loved ones who will receive it.
Green Writers Press; March 2014
140 pages; ISBN 9780989983815
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Title: Lasting Words
Author: Claire Willis; Marnie Crawford Samuelson