Terminal Gate

Review of Talking about Dying

  • The Importance of Talking


At last, here’s a really accessible book about dying. Four writers with varied personal, pastoral and medical experience speak plainly and practically about all the various issues that surround death and dying.

Jackie Rotter, reader at Good Shepherd Church, Loughborough
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Help in facing death and dying
By Philip Giddings, Martin Down,
Elaine Sugden, Gareth Tuckwell
Wilberforce Publications. 182 pages. £10
ISBN 978 0 995 683 204

We are often nervous about any conversation about death and shy away from it for fear of saying the wrong thing. However, this book urges us to open up conversations with the dying and those close to them, as there are many things which need to be addressed. People need to make preparations and this usually requires conversation ahead of time. Often the dying and those close to them find great relief in speaking about it, but lack the opportunity.

Crystal clear

While Philip Giddings initiated the book, it is Elaine Sugden, a retired cancer doctor, who writes much of the factual and practical material. She covers topics such as coping with a terminal diagnosis, the death of a baby, suicide, and talking to children about death. Her prose is direct and crystal clear. It is full of practical wisdom and advice born out of much experience. Martin Down contributes encouraging chapters on life after death and on legal matters. Gareth Tuckwell writes helpfully about healing in this context, and Philip Giddings shares from his own sudden bereavement.


I found the book gripping and easy to read. It relates to many issues which I came across during a brief spell as a hospital chaplain. I wish I’d read it then. We all face these issues in our own lives, among our families, friends, neighbours and colleagues, and so we all need this advice. It is also a book which I would be glad to share with non-Christians. Most of the advice is suited to all, with a sensitivity to those of other faiths and none. But it also offers a clear presentation of the hope we have as Christians of a glorious resurrection.

Review here