Winner of a Gold Nautilus Award
“We can do extraordinary things when we lead with love,” Barbara Becker reminds us in her debut memoir Heartwood.
When her earliest childhood friend is diagnosed with a terminal illness, Becker sets off on a quest to immerse herself in what it means to be mortal. Can we live our lives more fully knowing some day we will die?
With a keen eye towards that which makes life worth living, Barbara Becker―a perpetual seeker, a mom, and an interfaith leader―recounts stories where life and death intersect in unexpected ways. She volunteers on a hospice floor, becomes an eager student of the many ways people find meaning at the end of life, and accompanies her parents in their final days.
Becker inspires readers to live with the end in mind and proves that turning toward loss rather than away from it is the only true way to live life to its fullest. Just as with the heartwood of a tree―the central core that is no longer alive yet supports the newer growth rings―the dead become an enduring source of strength to the living.
With life-affirming prose, Becker helps us see that that grief is not a problem to be solved, but rather a sacred invitation―an opportunity to let go into something even greater…a love that will inform all the days of our lives.
In her 2022 Nautilus Gold Award-winning memoir, Becker, an ordained interfaith chaplain, sets off on a quest to find the answer to the question: can we live our lives more fully knowing someday we will die?
How to cope with the first holiday season after losing a loved one
The one question we should ask ourselves in order to live a more purposeful life
Simple advice to help family caregivers cope with caring for loved ones with Alzheimers
How Barbara’s work as a chaplain and in hospice has impacted and informed her feelings about death·
A surprising twist when the author turned to her own book for advice on life and death when she was diagnosed with breast cancer
What we can learn about coping with death and grief from religious traditions outside of our own
ABOUT BARBARA BECKER
Barbara Becker has dedicated over twenty-five years to partnering with human rights advocates around the world in pursuit of peace and interreligious understanding. She has worked with the United Nations, Human Rights First, the Ms. Foundation for Women, and the Grameen Bank of Bangladesh, and has participated in a delegation of Zen Peacemakers and Lakota elders in the sacred Black Hills of South Dakota. She is an interfaith minister and has sat with hundreds of people at the end of their lives. Through writing, she explores what it means to live a life of meaning. Barbara lives in New York City with her husband and two sons. More at barbarabecker.com
PRAISE FOR HEARTWOOD
Gloria Steinem, Author & Activist:
"Life is an adventure of following our curiosity—that is, the voice of our true self—into the unknown world around us. In Heartwood, Barbara Becker tells the story of her own journey into understanding loss and love, and so inspires us to follow our curiosity into a world that is both universal and a source of our uniqueness. And what could be better than that?"
Mirabai Starr, Author of Caravan of No Despair and Wild Mercy:
"Heartwood is a luminous book. The language is simple, tender and wise, the story-telling riveting, and the presence of the narrator both dignified and authentic. I have rarely read a book that left me feeling so fundamentally blessed. Highly recommended."
“Becker debuts with a stirring chronicle of the events, moments, and stories that led to her reconciliation with mortality…Becker’s eloquence is a salve for confronting a difficult topic…This will be a comfort for anyone contemplating their own mortality, or those in search of advice for others.”
—Publishers Weekly Starred Review
“A graceful meditation on divine deliverance. Once firmly entrenched in our “death-shy” contemporary culture, the author is now a reassuring advocate for peace and interreligious understanding, and she views dying as an opportunity to seek enlightenment and give thanks, regardless of one’s preferred spiritual path.”
“…an invaluable resource in living a life filled with meaning and purpose. A resource filled with wisdom and one that readers will find themselves returning to often in both good times and bad.”
“An affecting and informative memoir about the lessons we can glean from life as well as death.”
“This insightful, quietly moving book is not just for the grieving or those who comfort them.”
For more info on the book, please check out the release, Q&A, praise sheet, and previous media coverage.