PUBLISHED: Monday, September 9, 2019 by Brad Lyons

We often read to escape the aspects of life that worry us: discrimination, greed, conflict, and so on. But we all know the maxim about the two things we can’t escape. Dana Trent takes on the darker one – death, not taxes[1]– in her new book, Dessert First: Preparing for Death While Savoring Life.

The cover of Dessert First: a heart made of candy sprinkles with the title, subtitle, and bylineWhen her pitch came in, I confess that a book on death and dying didn’t seem all that appealing. What set Dana’s book apart from the others is that while she took death and dying seriously, she also took it with a healthy dose of humor. Reading about a dying character can be a slog, but Dana showed us the flashes of joy, the times when death can be a madcap adventure that leaves us gasping for air as we laugh out our grief.

Then, almost as if in a script, Dana’s world turned. As Dana started working on the book, her mother was dying. But instead of turning her book into a mournful memoir, she took us along on her own journey, sharing the details of hospice and dying and death and grieving. And she showed that sense of humor again and again. Dana sent updates about the book’s progress and her mother’s decline, and it was inevitable the two strands would intertwine. We mourn the passing of Judith Wade Trent, but this book is so much stronger because of the vulnerability her daughter demonstrated as she wrote. It is a wonderful gift.

If you meet Dana, and I hope you do, you’ll find a person full of the life she encourages us to live. Her Southern accent and 110-percent personality immediately draws you in. I can imagine the families who welcomed her into the rooms where their parents, children, or friends were preparing to leave our world, and I see Dana’s professionalism at work. But I can also those families relating to the chaplain who said just the right thing, solemn or sidesplitting, at just the right time.

We don’t want to think about death, our own or the people we know we’ll miss when they’re gone. If we must, it’s best to do it is in a way that is healthy, engaging, and perhaps enjoyable. Dana walks us through starting those hard conversations and the legal mumbo-jumbo, the most daunting elements of the conversation, before working into the practical, psychological, and spiritual elements for both the dying and the family. These are provided in easy-to-process language that gets to the heart of the conversation. 

Dana has started the conversation. It’s up to you to pick up where she has left off.

Order your copy of Dessert First


[1]And we promise – Dana’s next book will NOT be about taxes.