Sunday Book Review – Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons – Field Notes from The Death Dialogues Project by Becky Aud-Jennison

Welcome to my Sunday Book Review. Today I’m sharing my review for a beautiful book with a very apt title – Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons, written by Becky Aud-Jennison. She is a therapist and clinician and also runs a podcast – Field Notes from The Death Dialogues Project.


It’s Time to Invite Death Out of the Closet!

The impending or actual death of someone close to you can be devastating. It doesn’t matter if you knew it was coming, or if it was a total shock-you’ll never be the same. There is no right way to grieve, and no appropriate time frame. It’s different for everyone.

Author and therapist gone rogue, Becky Aud-Jennison, the creator of The Death Dialogues Project and podcast, has sewn together threads from people’s shared personal stories and her own experiences, using them to offer insight and comfort to those who are experiencing the loss of a loved one or want to become more death-literate.

She beautifully discusses individual factors of grief including:

  • Traumatic Grief
  • Relieved Grief
  • Who Am I Now Grief
  • Break-Ups: Death can be the great divide
  • Love Never Dies: Do not ignore signs
  • Transformation: Death becomes you

Calling on her years as a clinician, you will also find soothing, research-based techniques to help ease the ache of trauma and loss.

Many do not realize we now have choice surrounding our deaths and how our bodies are treated. Similar to birth being brought back into the home, there has been a wave of people doing the same with death, creating moving and personal experiences at the dying time and in the aftermath. Like homebirth, it may not be for everyone, but aren’t we better humans for understanding the terrain?

With this project’s aim of promoting death literacy, you will find story and commentary surrounding death and end-of-life choices (such as having a loved one’s body at home).

It’s time to take these historically “hush-hush” conversations out into the open. We all experience death and loss in our lives, and we should be talking about it.

Embrace the beautiful-horrible full spectrum of your life. Here you will also find resources and a community where you can further explore or seek support as you continue your journey.

This book will gently hold you as you increase your awareness and comfort surrounding death and is a perfect offering to others at those times whenΒ there are no words.


My 5 Star Review:

I’ve read several books on grief and loss and death, and I’m putting this one right up there with my recommends for anyone interested in death literacy. Like the author states, “We all experience death and loss in our lives, and we should be talking about it.”

This book gives us good insights with stories and conversations with the author and some of her clients who share their experiences on the subject of dealing with death, and things we don’t really want to know, but should. As the author states, “Death experiences can never be fully explained or compared…” adding, “We need to get death out of the closet too.” She refers to it as ‘talking about death’ because all people really want in their great times of trauma is someone to understand what they are going through. We want to hear people’s experiences on their grief journey, not from academic texts. This book is a definite balm to soothe the soul. Grief begins at the moment of diagnosis for both the patient and the loved ones. Aud-Jennison also warns that by stifling grief, it will certainly have its day. She also talks about the PTSD affect grief leaves on those left behind.

What I loved most about what this author said to those seeking grief therapy – a warning to seek out a therapist who has indeed experienced their own loss, because getting help from one who has never suffered great loss cannot possibly know the depths of grief. We will also learn how grief can wreak havoc on our bodies, “a mysterious thing that can never be taught”. So many great discussions on all aspects of grief, including how some people who are part of our lives disappear on us in our dire time of need to be surrounded by familiar people in our lives. Because many cannot handle the world which we the griever now lives in, warning: “Those are not your people.” “The absence of your loved one will forever be part of who you are now.”

The author reminds that Kubler-Ross’s Five Stages of Grief were initially written for the the patient diagnosed with the death sentence, compared to a griever’s life where we will live in and out and with grief for the rest of our days – in no particular order in a forever flux of triggers.

This book is all about the truth about death, dying, aftermath, and everything in between. I would certainly recommend this book as a guided tonic for the grieving soul.

“it is because we have felt

immeasurable love

we feel overwhelming grief

help us find the blessing

within the paradox

help us understand why

the world still turns without them”



51 thoughts on “Sunday Book Review – Death and its Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Beautiful Lessons – Field Notes from The Death Dialogues Project by Becky Aud-Jennison

  1. What a wonderfully helpful book, Debby. Sounds like an important read for any of us who have lost or might lose someone important to us or even might die ourself sometime. I think that’s all of us. Thank you for your recommendation.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hi Chel. Thanks for dropping by. And as I know this book may not be for everyone, there will come a day for many they wish to learn about these helpful books. I’m glad my review made you think about that. πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Your last statement is an understatement Sal. I was thrown into this nightmare of death – cold turkey, not aware of what was happening to me, new circumstances, and a whole load of grief. I waded my way through books and podcasts and now I am trying to carry the torch for others, both on the journey, or in preparation for. ❀ xx

      Liked by 1 person

  2. A lovely and heartfelt review, Debby. It sounds like a book everybody will benefit from, no matter at what stage of life, as we all need to think about death and be prepared for it, that of those around us and ours as well. β™₯


    1. HI Olga. You are so right. These types of books have been helpful on my own journey through grief, I’m happy to share books like these to aid others too. ❀


  3. I guess the majority of people are unwilling to read about death and dying until they are perhaps given a terminal prognosis or have lost a loved one. When we’re young we don’t want to think about it at all, but as the years go by we have to accept the inevitable. x


    1. You are so right Stevie. Nobody wants to think about death, but it happens to us all. And I hope with my reviews on such books it can spread awareness and help others on their journey, or for those who know someone on that journey. ❀

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Debby, a fascinating concept for a book and the cover alone is striking! An inspired idea to weave together people’s experiences of grief to create this book to talk about death and the ensuing grief. A beautiful and thoughtful review, Debby and the quoted poem says it all – how does ‘the world still turns without them.’

    Liked by 1 person

  5. What a wonderful review of Becky’s book. Kudos to her for tackling a hard subject and bringing it out of the closet. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on it. And congratulations to Becky!


  6. This sounds like a beautiful book and I’m glad you found it in your journey through grief. It sounds like the kind of book that can be helpful in lots of different circumstances and by people in every walk of life. If there’s one thing that connects all of us, it’s the certainty that we will all experience the end of life. Thanks for a heartfelt review. As an aside, the gorgeous cover caught my eye right away.


    1. Hi Amy. Thanks for leaving your thoughts. Exactly. Like the author states, “it’s time to let death out of the closet”. I too love the cover. But initially, I was drawn in by the title. πŸ™‚ ❀


  7. Reading your review Debby it sounds as if this book came along at just the right time. I am sure many will find comfort and guidance from its pages Debby as I know they find comfort and guidance from your own writing and Podcasts…
    Have a Wonderful New Year of The Rabbit which begins today.. ❀
    Much love my friend..


  8. Kudos to the author for talking about death and wisdom, bringing the two topics together ~ And she is encouraging more people to talk about it all. Great review, Debby.


  9. A beautiful review Debby and timely for me. My sweet sister is moving into her third year without her beloved husband, and I think this year is almost harder than the first two for her. I might pass this novel on to her. Thank you for sharing, time to pull death out of the closet. Hugs, C


    1. Hi Cheryl. Thanks so much, and it’s books like this that help with the dark times. It’s almost two years, unbelievably, that I lost the love of my life and it’s still as raw as it felt then. I know well of your sister’s pain. ❀ xx


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