Sooner or later, we all must deal with a lingering death, that of a family member, friend or our own. A newly published book, “Living Consciously, Dying Gracefully,” by two Minnesota women who are part-time residents of Costa Rica, records their experiences in caring for a beloved family member who died after five and a half years of living with breast cancer.
The patient, Diane Manahan, should also be credited with authorship, as she wrote and told about her determination to live to the fullest each and every day that remained to her. She was 60 when she died.
Nancy Manahan, sister-in-law of Diane, and her partner Becky Bohan penned the book, but the first section relies on Diane’s own medical journal and correspondence with friends and colleagues in the medical profession.
Diane was a nursing instructor at MinnesotaStateUniversity in Mankato. Both she and her husband Dr. Bill Manahan believed in a holistic approach using conventional and traditional treatments, including herbal remedies and acupuncture, a recipe they say helped Diane live a full and energetic life until the last few weeks.
The first part of the book, based on Diane’s knowledge of her illness, the treatments and her own physical and emotional state, is a record of how to live while knowing death is close. Recording her “journey” through the years of treatments also helped her friends and caregivers deal with her illness.
Her death was shared, bringing her family and friends together.
The authors take over the next section, which describes caring for Diane’s body and preparing her for the visitation and cremation and final celebration of her life, which included memorial testimonies, music and poems, and the haunting feeling that she was among them.
The last section of the book is a guide to help caregivers, family, the medical profession and patients of long-term diseases understand and prepare for the needs of the patient.
A full description of the book is available at www.nanbec.com. Published by Beaver Pond Press, the 244-page book with photos costs $17 and is available at Goodlight Bookstore (430-4083) in Alajuela, northwest of San José, where on April 1 at 1 p.m., Manahan and Bohan will present the book and sign copies, and the book will be available for a special price of $15. Goodlight is located 200 meters east of the JuanSantamaríaMuseum, or 100 m north and 175 m east of the cathedral.