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Publisher's Summary

Almost everyone with a pulse fears death, but not everyone fears life. With crippling social anxiety, I feared both. But after an accidental call to a funeral home during my mid-life crisis trip to grad school, I reluctantly embarked on a journey to explore professions that dealt with death in order to come to terms with my own mortality. 

The result of this quirky trip is Death Becomes Us, a humorous memoir about what happens when a middle-aged, anxiety-filled, life-avoider attempts to investigate the last taboo of American culture. And lives to tell the tale.

©2015 Pamela Skjolsvik (P)2018 Pamela Skjolsvik

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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Take it from a funeral director, this is amazing

I got this book because I am a funeral director, and death is quite lterally, my business. I always try to keep up with new ideas or get different perspectives on death and dying. Death Becomes Us is a fantastic look into the way that death affects us. It touches all of us at verious points in our lives, and there is no escaping it. Still, in this country, no one wants to consider their own mortality or the death process in those they love. This book looks at some hard cases, and some touching ones. It is real. That is the main thing I want to say. This is authentic. That comes out from the interviews, and the author's heart.

When I listened to this book all I could think of was this would make a great class for some CEU's for funeral directors from a hospice. Then, I thought this would make for great reading at a hospice! Families could benefit from this book. I may be getting a copy or two for my own funeral home!

As for the audible portion, this was narrated perfectly by Lisaun Whittingham. You almost feel that she speaks with the author's voice, as this is as much her story as it is Skjolsvik's. She carries a lot of sympathy and empathy in her tones, and with just some slight intonations she really tugs at your heartstrings.

Even though I did receive a promo code for this review it in no way influenced my considerations of the material, and in fact, inspired me to be more honest. In fact, getting a code generally makes me harsher as a reviewer as I am more often concerned what someone like Me will decide based on my review.

If this review helped, please press the YES below. Thank you immensely!!!

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Engaging, addictive, inspiring, and relateable

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I would recommend this book to friends, family, anyone who is curious about death, afraid of it, or is passionate about it. This book offers many different perspectives on death and grief as well as the author's journey of fighting through social anxiety, aging, facing mortality, parenting, love and loss.

What other book might you compare Death Becomes Us to and why?

Death is a subject that makes many people uncomfortable. Death Becomes Us stands on its own. There are elements that could be compared to Smoke Gets in your Eyes by Caitlin Doughty and The Chick and the Dead. All three books are a personal narrative of their journey in the death world with elements of comedy. These books, however, are written by Death professionals. Death Becomes Us offers the perspective of your average person who lives with fears that many in American society have.

Which scene was your favorite?

I really enjoyed each scene/chapter. One part that stood out was her story on how the book came to fruition. One phone call changed the course of her life forever. That is something that hit me hard and I think anyone who reads/listens to this book can relate to that. I feel like every person has had a phone call or have met someone that did the same.

I am known as a crazy cat person and when Pamela mentioned cats, my heart was touched. She speaks about her 20 year old black cat Spooky. I've been lucky to be blessed with two black cats. Coincidentally, one of them is named Spooky. My first cat Patches died unexpectedly at 18 years old. After him, I got a kitten named Xena and she died unexpectedly of a rare kitten disease a few months after I got her. I then got Ninja and Spooky, and rescued a feral kitten a few months after I got the boys. Not only does Pamela have compassion and empathy for people, but cats and dogs too. She shares how attached she was to spooky and the difficulty with his passing. She also discusses how she adopted a kitten from the humane society and rescued a prison cat to help her friend. This made my heart sad and happy. I thought of my own experiences with losing my feline friends and rescuing the ones I have now. This really warmed my heart.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

I am not an emotional person but this book sparked many emotions. Throughout the book, I found myself laughing wherever I was listening to it. On Easter, my family sat through and listened to the rest of it. There were times where my eyes welled up with tears when the author brings up the death of a young child and the process the family went through, step by step. My wife and I laughed when the author ended up in anxiety inducing situations and she addressed her thought process during those times. My wife and I live with anxiety issues and we laughed because we could relate to what she was dealing with.

Any additional comments?

The author Pamela is someone that everyone I think can relate to in some aspect. She has compassion and love for all walks of life whether it be a prison cat or an intimidating EMT. Many of us are afraid of death to some degree. Pamela provides an honest journey through those fears. The book is more than exploring people who work with death. The book is a trans-formative hike through facing fears, coping with loss, meeting new friends, the ethical conflicts of the death penalty, rescuing kitties, battling nicotine addiction, and so much more. The book addresses many hard to answer questions. How do you cope with death? How do you educate your children about death/grief? What types of grief are valid? What about my own mortality?

My wife and I are very death positive and have become friends with death in a way. While we were listening to the book in the kitchen, our son kept finding excuses to walk away from his video games so that he could sit and listen. This book may not be appropriate for a 9 year old as there is some subject matter that may be difficult for them but my stepson loved it. His face showed excitement as he made connections to what my wife and I talk about and what the author was saying.

This was the best book I've read in a while. It was refreshing to step out my usual true crime/death industry collection. I absolutely recommend it to anyone. The voice actor seems to pause a bit excessively in the beginning but as the book progresses, so does she. The voice actor does an amazing job and her voice is very pleasant to listen to. Her tone worked perfectly with the story.

This book created a book high that I am still riding. I'm sad it's over. I hope anyone that reads this book experiences the same joys that my family and I did.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Treatise on Life's Final Outcome

Where does Death Becomes Us rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

I listen to many genres of Audible books. So ranking it against others isn't a fair evaluation. It was interesting to me for several reasons. After a catastrophic health issue I am in a long term care facility.

The industries that Death has generated are many and varied. A few are covered in this interesting audiobook.

Who was your favorite character and why?

The author Pamela Skolsvik. She weaves her own story through the ones about the main subject of the book.

What about Lisaun Whittingham’s performance did you like?

She did an outstanding job! I picture the author herself by Lisaun's voice! She is a good choice for this work. A pleasant voice, easily understood and she lends humor, sadness and the spectrum of the story's points very well.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Both! Sad at the parents who lost infants or adult children. Smiles or sadness at the author's own story.

Any additional comments?

In my opinion, this Audible work is worth the credit and my listening time. It is certainly worth many relistenings!
Thanks for the opportunity to listen and offer my opinions on this work! A review copy was gifted to me at no charge. In return, I am happy to provide an honest review. Also at no charge.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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An Enjoyable Book About Death

The term is “creative non-fiction” which is fairly common. What’s not fairly common is when creative non-fiction is applied to the subject of death. Not only does Pamela Skjolsvik do that in “Death Becomes Us” she does it with great humor, great insight and heartfelt emotion. And along the way, as an extra bonus, you learn how to properly pronounce Skjolsvik.

Skjolsvik’s reluctance to delve into the subject of death is probably shared by most of us. As part of a Masters thesis she faced that fear by talking to a variety of people involved with the process of death from embalmers and EMT’s to death row inmates. It’s their perspectives on death and the way in which Skjolsvik learns to deal with it and be more open about how she feels about death that, in the end, is the real takeaway. Beyond that, it made this retiree think a little differently about end of life issues so, yes, I grew a little during this process as well.

Lisaun Whittingham does a great job of narration. You’ll laugh. You’ll cry. You’ll empathize.
You’ll think differently about death.

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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Realistic look at life and death

This was quite a good look at the many aspects of death. I enjoyed traveling along listening to the interviews with all the people who have an involvement with death. In addition, the author shares her personal life and experiences along the way so we feel like we are with her learning as we go. I enjoyed listening to this and recommend it to everyone. I feel it was well worth my time to get a better understanding of all the different facets of death from so many standpoints. I don't think a lot of us have actually thought about all the different people who regularly deal with death. Also, the narration was perfect. I was voluntarily provided this review copy audiobook at no charge by the author, publisher and/or narrator.

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A Matter of Life and Death

Death..a topic Pamela Skjolsvik writes in a way that connects to the hearts and minds of those who read it. She takes the reader on a fascinating journey with her to discover how people from different walks of life deal with death. The results are humorous at times, heartbreaking at others, and sometimes just an understanding of the circle of life.
Lisaun Whittingham narrates this book with just the right amount of soul and expression that makes the reader feel as if they are going through this journey with her.
All people at some point in their life, whether it's because of their pet, their career, an acquaintance, a stranger, their friends, their family, or ultimately themself will come face to face with death. That is why Death Becomes Us is a book for everyone.