J Margo and E Margo
Brandl & Schlesigner (2008)
Living On – a guide to living on in the thoughts and memories of those you love is a ‘self help’ book to assist people with life-limiting illnesses to create their own unique ‘heart will’. It depicts today’s post-modern era where the individual takes some control to lessen the burden of responsibilities for the soon to be bereaved loved ones and to assist in the grief process by reinforcing the relationship after death. Heart wills allow a person who has died to live on in the hearts of those that are important to them by maintaining emotional ties.
This book gives the reader practical ideas about what they may want to say to their loved ones in the future so as to reinforce their emotional self. It outlines different mediums that may be used such as writing letters, cards and short notes, as well as using voice and video recordings. It also draws on Petrea King’s work with children around separation anxiety by explaining the ‘rainbow ritual’, a sensory way of communicating with younger children through imagination.
Although the most important message it conveys is that heart wills do not need to be perfect with an advanced writing style, correct spelling or professional audio and video recordings, it does however use quite articulate examples of heart wills that have been left. It gives useful advice on how to store these in varying different digital formats and also advertises a website www.livingon.net as a type of bank vault to store these messages that is secure and may be accessed by a password. When searching for this site it currently gives the message ‘Living on, a new site launching soon’, so it was not clear whether there would be a cost associated with accessing this complimentary resource to gather and store precious information.
Overall this book is easy to read and may be helpful to give people with life limiting illnesses ideas of how, when, why and where to leave loved ones heart wills. Its rawness and simplistic format is useful for someone who is unwell, but at the same time it is a very emotive read. Putting these ideas into practice can be both psychologically and emotionally complex for those who are dying. In light of this the book does lack the option of directing people to discuss these issues if they wish with the appropriate members of the multidisciplinary oncology or palliative care team they are associated with.