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The Smooth River: Finding Inspiration and Exquisite Beauty during Terminal Illness


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A lawyer and his wife create "beauty within crisis" of his wife's five month, terminal experience with cancer, and the peaceful transition.

Smooth River is a beautiful book about a man and his wife and how they managed to weather the storm through her stage 4 pancreatic cancer diagnosis. As they go through her cancer treatment, they adopt the idea of Smooth River; a type of thinking that allows peace, dignity and safe-harbor guidance. It talks about destigmatizing death and allowing for all to have mindful and normalizing end of life talks, education and considerations.

One thing that I really enjoyed about this book is that it talks about how even medical professionals are afraid to talk about the after-life or end of life. The facts Cohen gives in chapter two are very gripping in detailing how many cancer patients or terminally ill patients don't have an actual understanding of their care or their life expectancy. The author stresses the need to have medical professionals practice empathy and care about the patients. Don't just care for them. I also enjoyed how Cohen talks about the usage of words such as "win", "lose", "fight", to talk about defeating cancer. He discusses that him and his wife did fight, but even though she died of cancer, she didn't "lose to" cancer. She had a good life and that is a win. In the end, his wife's death was peaceful, calm and loving like a smooth river. Even after her death, he was able to mindfully practice smooth river.

Overall I gave this book five stars. The writing was excellent and I think this is a great book that anyone can read. The journey of Richard and Marcia over 160 days is very profound and gives peace to the reader on accepting death while also trying to treat the malady. Instead of avoidance or fear, there is acceptance. Honestly, this book made me cry and it makes me want to create my own life plan. Smooth River also has a great list of resources. It truly is a great book that I would expect to be at oncology centers and in hospice; more so, it's good for anyone to read.

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As an avid reader that is always willing to go on a fictional or nonfictional adventure, I love bringing others the thrill of each literary experience. Reading is not just a hobby, it is a passion. What better way to use that passion, than to spread the message of new and wonderful work?

The Suddenness of It All

About the author

Trained as a corporate lawyer, Richard arranges mergers and acquisitions for healthcare companies. He is an expert in developing grounded creative solutions during stressful conditions. All of these skills were put to work in finding sanctuary, beauty, humor, and spirituality within cancer’s decay. view profile

Published on October 26, 2021

Published by

60000 words

Worked with a Reedsy professional 🏆

Genre: Health & Wellbeing

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