The value of life review goes beyond the simple and immediate fruit of gaining some grist for the family mill; some stories to pass around in the pantheon of friends and relatives. It is a journey toward self discover. "Gnothi se-afton" - "know thyself" is more than an inscription at the Temple of Apollo in Delphi, it is an indicator of deepening character.  The more we know ourselves, the more we are able to understand others - an understanding that exudes compassion and strength.

We gain this sort of character development by reviewing where we have been in life, what we have done, felt, thought, said, seen, tasted, smelt, and joined ourselves to.  For those of you who have kept a journal for any considerable amount of time, you will understand the power of healing and courage that comes from rereading your own words over time.  Not only does it reveal stages of who we are and have been, it establishes clear connections to values we have held dear over time and may have strayed from.  Journals call us back again to our centers.

The process of life review is big at end-of-life because it helps people to settle into an overarching view or story of their life.  Rough spots emerge and we are challenged to repair them.  Smooth portions emerge and we learn to relish, appreciate, and replicate them.  Overall it is a stabalizing and wisdom building exercise that most religions encourage (many of them ask you to review your day - everyday - as you lie down in sleep at night/so you can repair things along the way) on a regular basis.  The Gospel of Thomas 70 says (...and Jesus said...) "If you bring forth what is within you, what you bring forth will save you. If you do not bring forth what is within you, what you do not bring forth will destroy you."

Life review is the ultimate form of personal therapeutic intervention.  Like all good therapy, it is aimed at bringing up the stuff that is inside (memories, thoughts, feelings, impressions, dreams, hopes, drives, desires and longings) and getting it out so that the inner way may be cleared.  It also helps us to formulate agendas and maps for how we want and will live our lives.  Just like in the Gospel of Thomas - that which we allow to come forth will become helpful on our journey; that which we leave buried will actually be a part of our undoing.

Because of this, this workbook will be an ideal starting place for many.  Already, churches, support groups, hospices, and drug companies have rallied around the idea of using this workbook for the work they do.  Churches/Temples are planning to help people journal their life stories.  Hospices plan to use the workbook as a guide for therapeutic care plan sessions with patients and families (chaplains and social workers guiding the family through discussions about where they have been and helping them to record that at the same time). Hospice professionals can work through issues of decreased isolation, life review, and search for meaning as well as funeral planning with the use of the workbook.

Drug companies will use it as a value added tool to gift physicians (oncologists as well as family practice docs) for them to pass along to their patients.  Support groups are planning on using it as a group tool for helping people process who they are and where they long to go.  Some will tie all of these features together and sell the book as well, making a retail percentage of sales for their organizations.

I was blessed to have Grammy nominated singer, songwriter, speaker and author Karen Taylor-Good endorse the book with her kind words.  International speaker, author and physician Ira Byock, MD also blessed me with his endorsement on the back cover as well.  Both encourage the readers to engage themselves in a process that is good, not only as a family archive, but an exercise of therapeutic value in and of itself.

I was able to provide an introduction about the value of telling your tales and about the nature of life as a journey.  At the end, I placed a short article on one portion of my pastoral care visit with Elisabeth Kubler-Ross.  Elisabeth encouraged me to never rest until I found a publisher for the workbook.  She felt it was a valuable tool. Everything in between is one prompt after another to record your tale and bring forth the depth and power of who you truly are.  There is ample space to begin the process and record portions of who we are.

I hope you will begin the process yourself and begin a journey to the place you have been all along - to your own heart.  I hope you will grow from the work.  I hope you share this note with others who may also be at a place where they are ready to draw a map, get out on the road, and tell the tales as they journey.  Click the link and select Along the Road (or any of the other titles you like) and begin your trek today - with one step into your future.

Proceeds from the sale of this workbook will be shared with the New Jersey Hospice Palliative Care Organization (NJHPCO) and the Foundation of the National Hospice and Palliative Care Organization (NHPCO).  Join the cause and grow a new you at the same time.  Live each day as if it were your last!

“I had every intention of documenting the lives of my father and mother somehow, before they left this life. But time slipped by, and now I have so little to remember them by . . . and, so much of their histories are unknown to me. This workbook is brilliant, and it’s easy and fun. Get to work on it with your loved one now. You’ll be so happy that you did.” —Karen Taylor-Good, Grammy-nominated songwriter, speaker, author, and Hospice “groupie”!
“You are one of a kind, there will never be another, quite you like you. But just think about all you have seen and done! Think of all of the people you know and have known. Will you please tell us what the world has looked like from behind your eyes? How has life seemed, sounded, and felt like to you all these years? Please tell us some stories, so that we can share them with people you love and love you. Let them share your memories, wisdom, and wit, and perhaps, pass them along to others, even years from now, so that they, too, can know you. Have a seat, sip a beverage, flip through this book in your hand and take us Along the Road. With the help of someone to listen, write, or record what you have to say, it’s time to begin . . .” —Ira Byock, MD, author of Dying Well and The Four Things That Matter Most


Tom Johnson-Medland

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