The author of this book assumes you love life and don't like the idea of dying. He suspects, too, that were you to die today, you are not sure you could do so at peace and be able to say, "I have lived my best possible life." He also takes for granted you have retained fanciful notions you were taught as a child about living, dying, and death, including nonsense about the grim reaper.
This book relentlessly pursues truth and life. In the Introduction, Robinson calls you to update your worldview so it's coherent and to be true to your self in behalf of being your best self and living your best life.
In Part One, he introduces ten steps that will help you let go of childhood thinking and connect you with realistic understandings of life. He explains how to integrate three basic models of life, adopt a positive view of life that's also realistic, affirm your personal freedom, identify and choose worthy life purposes, engage life with both passion and good sense, be an authentic world citizen, defeat toxic powers and let positive ones nourish you, live creatively in the present, and open yourself to joy as well as happiness. He caps this section helping you understand what it means to trust and practice perfect love.
Part Two is also about living robustly. The author distinguishes between the ongoing process of dying and death as a state of being (or non-being), and quickly rejects denial, morbidity and escapist fantasies as adequate ways to deal with them. He then elaborates on 6 creative approaches to dying and death that are honest, liberating and edifying. Along the way, he explains what to kill the grim reaper means, and how to do it. His penetrating point is that until you get real about living, dying and death, you cannot be your best self or live your best possible life.
In the first of the book's two postscripts, the author tells the poignant story of his wife's suddenly discovered illness in July of 2008, and of her dying in October. In the second, he tells what was going on in him the next summer, when a life-threatening illness forces him to face his own possible dying.
CREATE YOUR BEST LIFE, KILL THE GRIM REAPER
"This book should be read by anyone expecting to die some day.Young people live as if it can't happen to them, and a lot of us older folks try not to think about our imminent departure, but the author thinks we should and makes a strong case for doing so.
It 's an easy and fun read, and makes more sense than anything I've seen on death and dying. I'm buying copies for all of my children, grandchildren, nieces and nephews.It's a good road map for theirremaining years as it is for mine."
Robert F. Hanson, Professor-Emeritus, San Diego State University
"Here is a very frank, practical and personal book about living and dying well that will greatly benefit not only professionals but also the general reader."
Sherellen Gerhart, MD, Chief Medical Officer, Hospice of the East Bay, Pleasant Hill, CA
"Robinson's book is magic. It teaches us step by step to transform the fear of dying into a design for creative living."
Milton Matz Playwright, Psychologist, Rabbi. Author: Plays in Search of an Ending
"Duke Robinson, a very wise pastor, has poured himself into an insightful discussion of living a good life and dying a good death. A thoughtful reading of this book will benefit one greatly."
Clifford J. Straehley, M.D. Retired Clinical Associate Professor of Surgery, Stanford Medical School; retired Chief of Surgery, Hawaii Foundation Hospital, Honolulu
"Living in a large, active retirement community, Duke Robinson knows how seniors as well as the young fail to prepare for their dying; this book addresses that problem directly...and helpfully."
Dr. John Hadsell, Professor-Emeritus, San Francisco Theological Semina
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About the Author
Over the years he has written occasional op-ed pieces and columns for newspapers.
Robinson was born and reared in suburban Philadelphia. In 1958, he graduated from the Louisville Presbyterian Theological Seminary and has lived since 1960 in the East Bay of Northern California.
For twenty-eight years, he served as pastor of the progressive Montclair Presbyterian Church in Oakland, 1968-96. For several years during that ministry, he also served as an adjunct professor at San Francisco Theological Seminary, from which he received an earned doctorate in 1979.
Prior to retiring in 1996, he also was known widely as a speaker and appeared frequently on television in Northern California.
Since 2000, Robinson has lived in Rossmoor, an active retirement community of nearly ten thousand residents, in Walnut Creek, California.
Barbara, his wife of fifty-four years died in October of 2008. He tells her story in the first personal postscript of this book.
In the second PPS, he recounts what he went through in the summer of 2009, when a vicious staph infection forced him to face his own possible dying.
He has a new love in his life and enjoys four children and nine grandchildren.