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Publisher's Summary

A yearlong journey by the renowned psychiatrist and his writer wife after her terminal diagnosis, as they reflect on how to love and live without regret.

Internationally acclaimed psychiatrist and author Irvin Yalom devoted his career to counseling those suffering from anxiety and grief. But never had he faced the need to counsel himself until his wife, esteemed feminist author Marilyn Yalom, was diagnosed with cancer. In A Matter of Death and Life, Marilyn and Irv share how they took on profound new struggles: Marilyn to die a good death, Irv to live on without her.

In alternating accounts of their last months together and Irv’s first months alone, they offer us a rare window into facing mortality and coping with the loss of one’s beloved. The Yaloms had numerous blessings - a loving family, a Palo Alto home under a magnificent valley oak, a large circle of friends, avid readers around the world, and a long, fulfilling marriage - but they faced death as we all do. With the wisdom of those who have thought deeply and the familiar warmth of teenage sweethearts who’ve grown up together, they investigate universal questions of intimacy, love, and grief.

Informed by two lifetimes of experience, A Matter of Death and Life is an openhearted offering to anyone seeking support, solace, and a meaningful life.

©2021 Irvin D. Yalom and Marilyn Yalom (P)2021 Blackstone Publishing

What listeners say about A Matter of Death and Life

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Lovingly written, lovingly received

As I approach my 62nd birthday and am helping care for my nearly 87 year old mother-in-law, I seem to have been drawn to “A Matter of Death and Life.” Having experienced first the loss of my wonderful daddy at 84, my amazing mother 10 years later shortly before her 94th birthday (married nearly 61 years) and then the loss of my dear father-in-law at 85, I see my surviving mother-in-law struggling to continue living without her spouse whom she was married to 60 years, also. I find it hard to believe the love of my life and I (married 38 years and together 41) are nearing our golden years. I, truly can not imagine life without him. This is an honest and beautifully written book and one I will listen to again as we face the trials
and tribulations of aging and so many questions associated with dealing with death and life. Highly recommended!

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A life-changing experience, a life- and love-affirming death

I have never experienced a book like this. Of course, the only people who never experience the kind of loss that the authors describe are the people who have never had the (ill?) fortune to have experienced a truly blissful love which like all earthly things, ends. So I learned a lot. I feel that this is a book that will lift up most human beings. To those of us who have experienced the death of loved ones without the benefits of competent hospice and palliative care and the respect, dignity and freedom of physician-assisted suicide (Florida, Alabama, Georgia...etc.) sucks to be us! But it’s something to which we can aspire: to die at the right time.

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The most beautiful love letter

The last chapter is Dr. Yalom’s most beautiful earth shattering love letter to his deceased wife. My tears are streaming down knowing there are soul mates & true loves existed in this emotionally volatile world.

Thank you for being the brightest star in the sky & your flickering light is certainly witnessed by many of us who started reading your books from Gift of therapy till now this Death of Life.

You also mentioned that you were working on another book , please keep on writing.

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For those thinking about or approaching death

Good book. For those about to die and their loved ones.

This is a good book that Dr. Irvin Yalom and his wife Marilyn deal with dying.

I’m glad I re-read “Staring at the Sun” before I listened to this book, because these two books go hand in hand.

I like how Yaloms explain their approaching deaths. Irvin is not scared about dying, but scared about living his life without his wife of 65 years. I also liked how Irvin explained what he was going through after his wife’s death.

As an older therapist, Irvin Yalom talks about his own issues around death. He is honest about what he is going through, such as in his grief, he thought more sexually than before. Also, they tackle what do they do with their stuff and how they respond to it. How selling Marilyn’s car put Irvin back into deep grief.

The men’s narration is great. The woman’s narration is just okay, but not bad.

I recommend this book for those thinking about death or those approaching death.

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Panic Inducing

I was in a panic attack for most of this book. How wonderful and terrifying to have Yalom’s intense analysis of his life during and after the death of his wife. This book HAD to be added to his cannon, and his previos instructional works must be reread through this lens - where death is no longer just an existential abstract.

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  • jk
  • 03-14-21

Lovely vulnerability

Marilyn and Irvin do a splendid job of exposing their unique experiences of Marilyn’s cancer and her struggle toward assisted suicide. I was grateful to hear about both of their emotions and thoughts as this extraordinary couple, with so much history and admiration for each other, wrestled with letting go. All the ethical dilemmas and revelations of selfishness made them relatable people. As perfect as their marriage seems to have been, the vulnerability they expressed made them just like all of us - idiosyncratic, unique and ordinary. I loved the book.

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Outstanding!

once again I am amazed at the literary accomplishments of Irvin yalom and this book has been the completion of many years of my training as a therapist. as I move towards retirement I can so identify with Dr Yalom's sentiments about moving on from the work we spent most of our lives doing. I would love to have one session with him before he transitions. in this particular book I felt more close to his life as well as the life ofMarylin his wonderful wife. Here's too much appreciation and I salute this icon in the field of psychiatrist.

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A fantastic book

A perfectly written book that is really pleasant, developmental, and maturative for a young man coming of age such as myself. I found this book to be relatable, worthwhile, and I further highly recommend this book.

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fascinating perspectives

the perspective was fascinating because it was interesting to see the world from these two incredibly educated and experienced people

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Yalom's provides support for grieving and dying

Dr's. Yalom story of the end of her life is very helpful to grieving.