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What does it mean to have a “good death”?
After bearing witness to 200 deaths in one year as a hospital chaplain and grieving the death of her own mother, the Rev. J. Dana Trent decided to draw on her experience to answer this question and write a guidebook about planning for death.
Book - Dessert - First - Readers - Death
The book, called “Dessert First,” encourages readers to prepare for death while savoring life -- to begin with the end in mind.
“When you prepare for death, it makes life sweeter,” Trent said. “You can truly savor it, because you’ve thought about the end already and you’ve talked about it with your family and friends.”
Trent - Graduate - Duke - Divinity - School
Trent is a graduate of Duke Divinity School, an instructor of world religions at Wake Technical Community College and the author of several books, including “One Breath at a Time” and “Saffron Cross.”
Faith & Leadership assistant editor Katie Rosso talked with Trent about grief, her time as a "death chaplain," and beginning the conversation about dying. The following is an edited transcript.
Faith - Leadership - Book - Role - Grief
Faith & Leadership: In writing this book, what was the role of your own grief? Did you choose mindfully to make it an in-motion grief process?
J. Dana Trent: The year after I graduated from Duke, I was a chaplain at UNC for their yearlong residency. 2006 to ’07 was my chaplain year, and in that year I became known as the “death chaplain.” My specialization became sitting with people, being present with patients and families during this very sacred transition. I earned that moniker because the unit that I worked on had the highest number of deaths in the hospital. But it wasn’t because they didn’t do their jobs; it was because they were really good at their jobs. They were literally the last step. If the medical ICU couldn’t fix you or send you...
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