Cover image for Living fully in the shadow of death : assurance and guidance to finish well
Living fully in the shadow of death : assurance and guidance to finish well
Zonnebelt-Smeenge, Susan J., 1948-
Publication Information:
Grand Rapids, MI : Baker Books, [2004]

Physical Description:
272 pages ; 23 cm
Format :


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Material Type
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Item Holds
BT825 .Z66 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area
BT825 .Z66 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf
BT825 .Z66 2004 Adult Non-Fiction Open Shelf

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While the psalmist promises God's protection, it is difficult to face our mortality. But in doing so we better prepare both ourselves and our loved ones for the reality of death. For those with a life-threatening medical condition or terminal illness, this is an urgent concern.

In response, Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge, a psychologist, and Robert C. DeVries, a pastor, offer this indispensable guide to the practical and spiritual concerns of dying. With compassion and understanding, they offer sound advice on everything from accepting death as a part of life, legal issues, and funeral planning, to the difficult spiritual questions asked regarding terminal illness and life after death.

This book is an important resource for individuals and families facing terminal illness, hospice and nursing personnel, and pastors and counselors.

Author Notes

Susan Zonnebelt-Smeenge is a licensed clinical psychologist working for Pine Rest Mental Health Services. Robert C. DeVries is professor of church education at Calvin Seminary and an ordained pastor. They are the authors of Getting to the Other Side of Grief and The Empty Chair and live in Grand Rapids, Michigan.

Reviews 1

Publisher's Weekly Review

Zonnebelt-Smeenge, a clinical psychologist, and De Vries, a pastor and seminary professor, bill their work as everyone's guide to preparing for and coping with death from a Christian perspective. They have forged a reliable tool for the job. Well-organized sections view death from three seasons of life: during good health; after a dire diagnosis; and near the end. Each explains the physical and psychological aspects of facing death, and each offers scripture meditations and prayers. The authors' experiences-each lost a spouse to cancer-lend a gentle personal touch. Practical suggestions abound, answering the flood of questions that come with the prospect of dying. For example, the first section explains what a will should include and how to explain death to children; the last section tells how to recognize that a person has died. The meditations mine scripture for strong insights about such issues as God's control of life, the reason God allows suffering and whether a person should be cremated. The work never mentions hell, focusing exclusively on the joys of heaven. An appendix recommends books to help children, adolescents and young adults deal with grief and death. Zonnebelt-Smeenge and De Vries handle a difficult topic with grace and expertise, and many will find their work useful and comforting. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Table of Contents

Acknowledgmentsp. 11
Prefacep. 13
1 Daylight: Death Yet Unseen
The Mental Health Perspective on Lifep. 19
Death Is a Part of Lifep. 19
Society's Reluctance to Face the Reality of Deathp. 20
Assessing Your Life to This Pointp. 21
Evaluating Your Past and Present Relationshipsp. 23
What Kind of Relationship Can You Have with Yourself?p. 26
Planning for Your Deathp. 28
Planning for Your Legal and Financial Needsp. 29
Planning Your Memorial or Funeral Service and Disposition of Your Bodyp. 31
What Do You Think about the Dying Process, Death, and the Afterlife?p. 31
What Is Dying Like Emotionally?p. 34
How Do Children Think about Death?p. 37
If I Were to Die, What Would Happen Then?p. 45
Christian Meditations on Lifep. 47
Forty Days and Forty Nights (How do I understand the seasons of my life?)p. 48
Taking Charge of Life (Am I really in charge of my life?)p. 51
To Life! (What is "life"?)p. 54
I Can Do Everything! (What am I really capable of doing, and how?)p. 57
Living in His Presence (How do I determine my priorities and spiritual values?)p. 60
Mirror, Mirror, on the Wall (What does it mean to be created in God's image?)p. 63
Loving God, Loving Me, Loving You (What is a Christian perspective on loving God, myself, and others?)p. 66
Are Loved Ones and Friends Ours Forever? (What are the qualities and characteristics of Christian friendships?)p. 70
Kids Say the Darndest Things (How can I develop childlike curiosity and faith?)p. 74
The Manna Syndrome: Waiting and Trusting (What is the nature of God's daily grace?)p. 77
Heads or Tails? Are Decisions God's or Ours? (How do I make responsible decisions?)p. 81
How Long Do I Have? (What makes for a full and happy life?)p. 84
2 Dusk: The Knock at the Door
The Mental Health Perspective on Facing the Possibility of dying: Part One: What Do You Do When the News Isn't Good?p. 89
What's Going on Here? Understanding the Diagnosisp. 91
Isn't There Hope? Looking at the Positive and Negative Aspectsp. 91
Learning More about Your Diagnosisp. 92
What happened in my body?
Do I really need to treat this condition?
How can I balance quantity with quality of life?
What treatment options are available for me?
What are the potential side effects of these options?
Who Will Go through This with Me?p. 97
How Do I Manage My Life's Goals, Values, and Priorities?p. 100
Life questions--Am I pursuing goals that are based on what I value most?
Spiritual questions--Where am I spiritually and how will this impact my potential death?
As a Family Member: To Tell or Not Tell the Diagnosis to Your Seriously III Loved Onep. 102
The Mental Health Perspective on Facing the Possibility of dying: Part Two: Summarizing Your Life--What Do I Need to Attend To?p. 105
Money, Property, and Legal Issuesp. 106
Planning for My Dying and Funeralp. 108
Would I like to die at home or a hospital, and what about using hospice?
What do I want in my obituary, life story, and ethical will?
What about donating my organs, eyes, or tissues?
Should there be an autopsy after I die?
What about funerals, memorials, and memories?
How do I want my family to deal with my body?
Should I plan a visitation for family and friends?
What do I need to consider in planning the funeral service?
How do I plan my burial or the scattering of my ashes?
What about a monument or marker?
How Do I Talk about the Tough Stuff?p. 124
A closer look at family communication
Communicating with congruence
Forgiving: Why is this important if I am going to die anyway?
Letting yourself off the hook--accepting self-forgiveness
Dusk Has Arrived: A Perspectivep. 132
Christian Meditations on Facing the Possibility of Dyingp. 133
Divine Insurance (How do I trust God when things go bad?)p. 134
God's Grand Design for His People (Does God still have a purpose for me when I face the possibility of death?)p. 138
The Right Time (Do things always happen at the right time?)p. 142
What Went Wrong? (Where did evil and death come from?)p. 145
Death Is Gain (Do I have to see death as a good thing?)p. 148
How Great Is God? (If God is all powerful, why doesn't he always answer our prayers by healing us?)p. 151
Centurion Faith (Doesn't the Bible teach that God heals us if we have enough faith?)p. 154
He Heals All Our Diseases (How does God's healing actually happen?)p. 157
What If I Had Done Things Differently? (What do I do about my regrets?)p. 160
Wasting Away? (How do I keep from despair when my body is wasting away?)p. 164
Rotten Produce (What can I realistically hope for?)p. 167
Trials and Temptations (Should I be happy because I have this potentially terminal illness?)p. 170
3 Midnight: The Day Has Ended
The Mental Health Perspective on Facing Deathp. 175
Walking the Final Legp. 175
The Difference between Dusk and Midnightp. 176
One Last Chance to Make Final Arrangementsp. 179
Are legal, financial, and end-of-life decisions in place for your death?
What are your priorities for your last few months or weeks?
Getting the Emotional Support You Need When You Need It: Visits from Othersp. 184
Will Your Family Actually Provide for Your Care?p. 185
Who Do I Want with Me during My Final Days?p. 187
Communicating in These Last Months, Weeks, and Daysp. 188
Now It's Time for Life Closure: Letting Go and Dying a "Good" Deathp. 189
For Loved Ones: The Aftermath of Letting Gop. 192
The Physical Aspects of Dying: The Last Few Weeks and Daysp. 193
Will I Suffer? Pain and Symptom Managementp. 196
The Bedside Vigilp. 197
A Light, a Person's Image, or Some Other Visualization from "Beyond"p. 197
Recognizing When Your Loved One Has Diedp. 198
The Funeral Staff Comes to Take the Body--Then What?p. 200
What Happens to Those Left Behind? Introducing the Grief Journeyp. 202
Christian Meditations on Facing Deathp. 207
Bowing Low (Why is it so hard to let go of this life?)p. 208
Praying for the Miracle (Do my prayers for healing really make a difference?)p. 211
Grave Thoughts (If my body dies, am I dead?)p. 215
The Grand Parade at Christ's Return (What happens if I have already died when Christ returns? What is the hope for those still here?)p. 219
Facing the Judge (What will it be like for a Christian to face the final judgment?)p. 222
Good-bye, My Loved Ones, Good-Bye (How do Christians say good-bye to their loved ones?)p. 225
Preludes and Postludes (How do I balance my desire to hang on to life with letting go for what is to come?)p. 228
Ashes to Ashes; Dust to Dust (What happens to my body when I die? May a Christian be cremated?)p. 232
Comfort (How can I use my dying to help others?)p. 236
Patience (Why is it so hard to be patient?)p. 239
My God, My God, Why Have You Forsaken Me? (Will God really be there when I die?)p. 242
Standing on the Front Porch of Heaven (What does heaven look like?)p. 245
In the Beginning (When does eternity begin?)p. 248
Cry No More, My Friend (What is the meaning of shalom, this heavenly peace?)p. 251
When We All Get to Heaven (Will we see and know each other in heaven?)p. 255
Ministering Angels (Are ministering angels near me now?)p. 259
Epiloguep. 263
Appendix Recommended Books to Help Children, Adolescents, and Young Adults Deal with Death and Griefp. 265
Notesp. 269
Indexp. 271