Tough Topics: Death and Dying

Tough Topics: Death and Dying

Anessa Olson

Let’s talk about death.  It’s not a very comfortable subject; no one really likes to think about themselves or a family member passing away.  But whether or not we like to think about it, the reality is that death is inevitable for us all.  Another reality is that death and dying are complicated.  There are a lot of legal and financial issues that arise when someone is dead or dying, and these issues are often the responsibility of their family.  There are steps that you can take to make things easier for your family, and ensure that your wishes are carried out. 

The Peace of Mind program series at the Ames Public Library is designed to help you and your family members prepare for the legal issues surrounding death and dying.  Local attorney Merlaine Mosley specializes in estate planning and end-of-life issues.  As the presenter of the Peace of Mind series, she will introduce you to options to consider, point out pitfalls to avoid, and get you started thinking about how to prepare for the end of life.  Death is always painful, but the proper foresight and preparation can help make the complexities easier for your family. 

The Peace of Mind series has three sessions coming up, each discussing different topics.  You are welcome to attend any or all of these events either in-person in the library’s PEO Room or online via Zoom.  If you would like to attend via Zoom, the event link will be available on the library’s website, in our calendar of events.  All sessions will be from 7:00pm to 8:30pm. 

January 12 – Health Care Directives

February 9 - How Medicare Planning Makes a Difference

March 9 – Family Protection Plans

In addition to the Peace of Mind program series, the Ames Public Library also offers a wide variety of resources to help the dying and the bereaved with end of life issues. One resource that’s available online is a database called Gale Health and Wellness.  This resource is accessible on the library’s website for free using your library card.  It includes articles and up-to-date research on diseases, medications, procedures, and treatments of all sorts so that you and your family have all the information you need when you discuss options with your health care providers.

The library also has many helpful books.

Estate Planning Basics” by Denis Clifford is a good introduction to the legal issues surrounding end of life and inheritance.  Part of the NOLO legal guide series, this book is a practical, easy-to-follow overview of estate planning issues.  Although not a substitute for a lawyer, this NOLO guide can help you figure out where to start and what questions to ask. 

Preparing for a Better End: Expert Lessons on Death and Dying for You and Your Loved Ones” by Dan Morhaim is a practical guide to end-of-life care and how to make sure your wishes are followed in a health care setting.  Morhaim lays out the tangled legal, medical, and financial issues and offers clear ways to avoid confusion and trauma for patients and their families. 

Being Mortal” by Atul Gawande is a thoughtful and moving examination of what it means to die in the modern medical environment, and helps patients and family members alike have important conversations about the end of life. 

It’s OK That You’re Not Ok” by therapist Megan Devine is a helpful book for those left behind.  Devine describes the process of grieving and offers practical tips, not for returning to ‘normal’ but rather for learning to live with loss.  Devine also offers tips and guidance for helping the people you love as they experience grief, making it an excellent resource for everyone. 

For more information about these or other library resources, please come and visit us in person or online, or give us a call at 515-239-5642.  Library staff are always ready to help you find the information you need, and we always keep your questions and research confidential.