Jo Myers left her job in radio after a 33-year career to write “Good to Go: A Guide to Preparing for the End of Life.” And the book is exactly what it purports to be — a guide to end-of-life planning geared towards baby boomers and their parents.
Meyers decided to write “Good to Go” when she became clued into the fact that a lack of planning for the end of life can throw families into chaos. She was, by her own admission, consumed by the idea of “spreading the word about being good to go.” Determined to get her message out to the public, she self-published her book in 2007. A few years later, the book attracted the attention of Sterling Publishing Co., which bought the book and published it in July 2010.
Two months later, Myers was diagnosed with breast cancer. With chemotherapy, radiation, a bilateral mastectomy and reconstruction behind her, she is doing well. She continues to write and speak (she’s a spokesperson for the Breast and Women’s Reproductive Cancer Fund of Colorado). And she’s thoroughly prepared for her own eventual demise.
Myers became interested in the idea of end-of-life planning after witnessing what happened when her parents, an aunt and a friend passed away. She saw the dramatic ways that pre-planning — or a lack thereof — can affect the lives of the families. Adult children who are left behind to sort out things like end-of-life medical decisions, funeral decisions and the division of personal property are hit especially hard.
Myers covers a lot of ground in her 224-page book. She has packed it full of advice from all sorts of experts, including a funeral director, a police officer, a therapist, a jeweler and a veterinarian. She also includes words of wisdom from a hospice care representative, an estate-sale-company owner, a financial planner, a real estate agent, a care giving executive, a nurse, a banker, an obituary writer and an intuitive counselor. Myers deftly covers issues that range from funeral planning (a chapter she calls “Let’s Put the Fun Back in Funeral”) to sibling conflict (“Nemesisters”) to obituaries to donating your body to science.
For those who shy away from the grave tone of many books that tackle end-of-life planning, “Good to Go” could be a perfect ice breaker. Myers’ tone is conversational, inviting and realistic while also being breezy enough that it’s disarming. She reveals in her chapter called “Donating your Body to Science” that she and her husband have both made the decision to donate their cadavers for scientific research. She writes: “Another reason I have made the cadaver commitment? My husband I are frugal. If you donate your body to science, cremation is free!” In the chapter called “E is for Eulogies,” Myers includes an Emily Post-esque guide to condolence response etiquette. “They (those anonymous authorities on everything) say thank-you notes should be sent to anyone who calls on the phone, visits the house, attends the funeral, makes a donation in the deceased’s name, or sends flowers.”
When Myers inserts more somber facts into “Good to Go,” she includes them in bite-size nibbles that are easily digested. In fact, the whole book is easily digested, which is impressive considering all of the aspects of end-of-life planning it touches on. It’s a trouble-shooting guide and a streamlined (and sometimes cheeky) how-to, rather than a book that delves deeply into any particular issue. In this way, it’s an approachable, brief foray into the world of hospice care, advance directives, asset appraisals, pain management and burial options. It’s a worthwhile read for anyone who isn’t yet quite “Good to Go.”