Reviews & Praise
Hoben’s story unfolds over the course of her husband's cancer diagnosis, illness, and death. She movingly details her own previous battle with cancer, and how twice being visited by the disease forces her and her husband to live with patience, kindness, and by the moment. Hoben writes in a graceful prose style, delivering an exceptionally optimistic and gently philosophical narrative. Hoben’s memoir is unique in its dual focus on two cancer diagnoses yielding two different outcomes. In the face of tremendous suffering, Hoben infuses her narrative with uncommon grace and lightness. Just as Bruce Hoben is the unspoken protagonist of this story, the individuals surrounding him in the months leading up to his death--whether Hoben's medical team, loyal friends, or estranged family members--also become key characters.
Score: Plot/Idea: 9 Originality: 10 Prose: 9 Character/Execution: 10 Overall: 9.50
“Dying Well is not about illness, but about embracing reality at the end of life and making the necessary decisions that honor a life well lived. Sue Hoben takes us along with her and her husband, Bruce, on this last journey together as a couple after he has a terminal diagnosis. They approach this transition the same way they approached all of life’s challenges—with heart and humor shaped by their deep love and respect.”
Judy L. Mandel
New York Times best-selling author of Replacement Child: A Memoir
“Dying Well's account is a mix of love, sorrow, and practicality that is at the heart of what we, as a society, need to do to more normalize a process that modern medicine has tried so hard to shield us from.”
Adam R. Silverman MD, FACP
Vice President, Population Health, Saint Francis Health Care Partners
Co-Chair, Care Decisions Connecticut
“This is a love story, but it is also an account of successful navigation of a complex medical system. Take a box of tissues and prepare to be touched and to learn many lessons that will serve you well when you or a member of your family is seriously ill or fatally ill and dying. Our society pushes death under the rug. The courage of Sue and Bruce Hoben includes a refusal to do so.”
Henry Schneiderman MD, MACP
Section Chief, Geriatrics and Palliative Care, Saint Francis Hospital and Medical Center/Trinity Health of New England
Professor of Medicine, UConn Health Center
Professor of Medicine, Quinnipiac University School of Medicine
Clinical Professor, Nursing, Yale University
A powerful true story that anyone would benefit from reading.
I didn't anticipate sitting down and reading Dying Well from cover to cover in one sitting. I also didn't anticipate that I would be crying and smiling at the same time so often throughout the book. From the very first page I was engaged thinking about the way in which we choose to view our lives, our relationships and our beliefs. I can't say I am confident I would have moved with the gracefulness that Bruce and his family did, although I am positive that after reading this book I will never view dying the same way. Dying Well shares the message of what it means to live life fully. I highly recommend this book to everyone!
S.C. 5.0 out of 5 stars
Dying Well" is a book everyone needs; a subject we all need to explore and talk about!
This is a true life experience shared by Susan. It's not just a love story, but a story written to promote discussion about a subject that continues to make our culture uncomfortable; death. I identify with the author's experience. I also knew the joy of weeks and days spent in complete selflessness, peace, compassion and love, cherishing whatever moments were given and being grateful for that time. Susan's experience proves it is possible to uplift each other, live to the fullest, even knowing the end of life approaches. Her story will bring tears along with a new understanding of the true test of walking with someone. This is a Must Read; from teens to Seniors! Allow Susan, Bruce and their entire family into your heart; you'll be so glad you did! After reading, "Dying Well", pass it along to someone you love and let us all continue (or begin) the conversation
C.K. 5.0 out of 5 stars
This book will leave you with a better understanding of what palliative care is and provides thought on how we may want to navigate our own inevitable journey home.
“In Susan Ducharme Hoben's book, Dying Well, she addresses the profoundly human yet emotional experience of navigating through the end of life process with her late husband, Bruce Hoben. It is truly an open and honest book that speaks of the ups and downs of family, and of their profound and heartfelt journey, as they both take control and dictate the terms of how that process will unfold. This book will leave you with a better understanding of what palliative care is and provides thought on how we may want to navigate our own inevitable journey home.” - A.C. 5.0 out of 5 stars
A great true story
Plato, the ancient Greek sage, famously said that life is nothing more than a study on the phenomenon of death. Taking this into consideration, this wonderful and moving book by Susan Ducharme Hoben tries a philosophical approach to death as it describes the actions of a man who is diagnosed with cancer and finds himself confronted with the certitude of a prompt demise. The writer's narration and descriptions are real as she was the spouse of the deceased and this fact engages further the reader in terms of emotion and completes a truly fascinating reading experience. This is a book that should be read by all as it concerns each and every one of us. D.P. 5.0 out of 5 stars
It was amazing
A truly excellent read, this book is well-written and very moving. It is as much a love story for life as it is a testament to a good death. When the author's husband receives his terminal cancer diagnosis, they along with extended family and friends truly make his "end days" (months) a positive experience. I enjoyed this book very much. Janice
A celebration of life and love
If you found out today that you had run out of options to treat your highly aggressive cancer and you would, in fact, have a very short time left in this life, how would you respond? I’m not sure many of us could answer that and actually give a valid answer. Knowing how hard it was for her and her husband to go through this exact situation, Hoben wrote about her husband’s experience and choice on how they faced his oncoming death to possibly help others in the same situation.
I know the message in this book is supposed to be about love and how Bruce was strong all the way to the point that he chose to stop treatments and live life fully until he died but I’m simply stuck on how tragic this story is. The book starts with Sue having beaten her cancer and then surviving emergency heart surgery and twists into the love of her life having a stage IV aggressive cancer that by some miracle goes into remission against all odds and then ends with him dying because the remission didn’t last. And similar stories happen all the time but we just don’t read about it. And to put it plainly, it sucks.
I applaud her strength in sharing her and Bruce’s story so that maybe someone else can gain strength in the darkness. I’d like to think I’d be brave like Bruce and know when it was time to stop the fight and just enjoy what time I had left.
All I know is with the last few chapters my heart has been ripped from my chest because Hoben shared her feelings very well. I feel like I’ve gotten to know the entire family and I feel like I was there for every Celebration of Life. I believe that this book could be beneficial for families in similar medical situations who are seeking a supportive voice. Jessica
An Uplifting End-Of-Life Journey
This book was written in the form of a personal diary or journal. Mrs. Hoben wrote about her husband's final months with love, compassion and empathy. This book is truly a celebration of life... The family events and interactions were especially heart-warming and poignant...This book is an excellent resource for families who are facing end-of-life decisions. We will all have to face our own deaths and the deaths of loved ones. This book provides many important subjects to think about. Highly recommended! J.F. 5.0 out of 5 stars
A beautiful, selfless choice to keep living as long as you can
I have to wonder how gracious or brave I would be after being told that I had an incurable illness. Would I roll up in a ball of emotional wreckage and just wait for the inevitability? This is a book that gives us another choice. A beautiful, selfless choice to keep living as long as you can with the people you love and doing the things that have always made you happy. Susan 5.0 out of 5 stars Ducharme Hoben's husband made that choice and this memoir will have everyone thinking about the idea of "Dying Well". Well done! .S.S.
So glad I downloaded this book
I downloaded this book as a friend was seeing here beloved husband slip away from cancer. This book is emotional and fascinating. It was positive, and courageous. I found the writing was well done. It is honest and heart wrenching. It teaches us to never give up living until life is over and that dying well us as important as living well. I am so thankful I read this book. S.G. 4.0 out of 5 stars
We probably all spend a lot of time thinking about how we want to live our lives, and this very personal memoir invites us to give equal consideration to the ending of our stories. Loved the book, and have found myself returning to parts of it for further pondering. As a hospice volunteer, I very much appreciated the gentle reminder to treat death with as much respect and authenticity as we treat life. B.V 5.0 out of 5 stars
Love and respect resonated with me
Love and respect resonated with me as I made my way page after page. Each member of this family respected (may not have agreed with) the choices that were being made and dealt with them in a loving supportive way. I have only known Sue for a short time but it gave me such an insight as to who she is as a person. B.A. 5.0 out of 5 stars
Her story has inspired me to think deeply about how I will handle my death and those of my loved ones
Sue Hoben & her husband lived the last months of his life with grace, wisdom, and even humor. Her story has inspired me to think deeply about how I will handle my death and those of my loved ones, and to follow her lead as much as I am able. The lessons here are ones I will keep with me forever. R.W. 5.0 out of 5 stars
What a beautiful love story about life and death
What a beautiful love story about life and death and how to go gracefully into the great beyond living each moment to its fullest. J.K. 5.0 out of 5 stars
A personal story worth reading.
Sue Hoben has written a deeply touching and informative book about how she, he, family and friends deal with the end of her husband's life due to cancer. It is a heart wrenching but beautiful story well told and worth reading. L.S. 5.0 out of 5 stars
A different kind of love story
“I've known Sue since grade school, so this story was especially meaningful to me. Her story is both happy and sad, reflective and emotional and at the same time it is a useful primer for a different way to face death. I loved this book and I am so grateful to Sue for sharing this beautiful and personal story of love, life and ultimately loss.” - E.G. 5 stars out of 5
I found it full of useful suggestions as well as entertaining and upbeat
“This was a very engaging and informative account of a loving couple's last year together. I found it full of useful suggestions as well as entertaining and upbeat.” L.C. 5.0 out of 5 stars
Dying Well is a beautiful book about love, loss, and dying on your own terms
Dying Well is a beautiful book about love, loss, and dying on your own terms. It is a wonderfully written love story about celebrating life on your road to death. I applaud Susan's ability to share this painful and loving journey about losing the love of her life. H.D. 5.0 out of 5 stars
A very sad story but also uplifting
Susan and Bruce, a wonderful couple with a fantastic family and then suddenly Bruce is diagnosed with a particularly nasty terminal illness. This is their story of how they faced and dealt with all that life threw at them. Knowing when it’s time to stop pumping your body full of powerful chemicals and prepare for the inevitable. A very sad story but also uplifting too. Susan has a way with words and the reader feels they have got to know her through this account of love and loss. I.A. 4 out of 5 stars
The best dialogue that I've read so far on this topic regarding end of life planning and family dynamics
Dying Well is a beautiful and tragic story of love and loss (like the title says). Susan and Bruce had a long happy life together until Bruce died from esophageal cancer. In Dying Well, Susan documents their time together and provides some of the best dialogue that I've read so far on this topic regarding end of life planning and family dynamics. While I recognize that this is another story about end of life planning written from someone that has access to great healthcare and the money to be with family that many families do not have, I think this was a great addition to the growing pile of books on this topic.
I really enjoyed reading about Bruce and hearing from Susan what it was like not only going through her own medical struggles but also then taking on the role of caregiver for her husband. Navigating hospitals, doctor’s appointments, hospice, grown children, and grandchildren while also trying to have a social life was pretty stressful to read about and I really appreciate her honesty throughout the book.
I would definitely recommend this one for anyone looking to learn more about what end of life care can and should look like. It really highlights the importance of having these difficult conversations as early as possible.” Keeley
“Dying Well is a “how to” book without being preachy. It tells what will happen at the end and how to handle it. It lets people know how they can ask, learn and be prepared. I wish I had known this before my parents died. I couldn't put it down.”
“It is refreshing to read and hear a warm account of what undoubtedly is the scariest of life's challenges.”
“This is a wonderful love story. It kept me riveted.”
“A beautiful story of how to live your life at the end. With its specific lessons it could be a self-help book. People need to know that, as part of the doctor/patient relationship, they can make decisions.”
“This book is about the decision process! It provides specific tips for navigating the healthcare system in addition to navigating death.”
“This book is honest and frank. Many people think they're prepared for death but they're not.”
“Dying Well empowers someone to think about what they want. I think about the things you did and said and I'm going to put it away for when the time comes, whether for my parents or myself.”
“We plan for the birth of children, which is a fairly small window of time, and yet given a lifetime to plan for our death we don't do it.”
“Having family members who have passed, it hit home for me.”
“A positive message of hope for everyone on how to live now and die well. It’s a message for all people to consider before they are faced with death.”
“Dying Well is very successful at conveying the benefits of dying on your own terms and what can be gained by making one's own decision about when treatment should end. It also illuminates how taking the limited amount of control that is available with this kind of dire diagnosis can be freeing and empowering to the patient as well as their family. Having the time to say goodbye and appreciate a life well lived is invaluable and you show it extremely well.”
“Dying Well is not just for baby boomers and it's not a book about illness. It’s about family and love and how you support each other in crisis.”
“It was a great book club book. The questions that came up sparked meaningful discussions.”