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  • The Music Hall Presents Katy Butler with The Art of Dying Well on March 6

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    February 05, 2019

    Innovation + Leadership presents

    bestselling author

    Katy Butler

    with her new book


    THE ART OF DYING WELL: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life


    Wednesday, March 6, 7pm


    "Butler’s advice is neither formulaic nor derived from pamphlets...[it] is useful, and her challenge of our culture of denial about death necessary."

    Suzanne Koven, Boston Globe


    “Free of platitudes, Butler's voice makes the most intimidating of processesthat of dying—come across as approachable. Her reasonable, down-to-earth tone makes for an effective preparatory guide to the permanent holiday upon which everyone eventually embarks.”

    —Publishers Weekly


    PORTSMOUTH - On Wednesday, March 6, bestselling author Katy Butler will visit The Music Hall as part of its Innovation + Leadership series to share THE ART OF DYING WELL: A Practical Guide to a Good End of Life, her compassionate and crucial handbook for passing peacefully.


    The 7 p.m. event includes an author presentation and Q&A, plus a post-event book signing and meet-and-greet. It will be held at The Music Hall Loft at 131 Congress St., in Portsmouth.


    “This event is a must for those caring for aging parents,” said moderator Tina Sawtelle, chief financial officer at The Music Hall. “Any of us contemplating our own advancing years, too, can find guidance from Katy in managing the later stages of life with dignity and meaning.”



    Advancements in modern medicine are giving us the ability to live longer and longer. Yet we’re losing touch with ways to handle the death of a loved one and how to plan ahead for our own dying. Most of us say we want to die at home, comforted by friends and family. However, research shows more than two thirds of us take our last breaths in sterile hospital rooms to the soundtrack of beeping monitors, or in institutions like nursing homes that often feel cold and unfamiliar.

    In THE ART OF DYING WELL, Katy Butler seeks to restore an element of the sacred to the process of dying, and provides the tools to navigate a modern medical system that is inadequately designed to meet the needs of the elderly and patients managing prolonged illnesses. This crucial guide prepares readers for seven phases of late life, from vigorous old age to the final breath. Filled with life-affirming and relatable anecdotes, each chapter addresses a specific stage: Resilience, Slowing Down, Adaptation, Awareness of Mortality, House of Cards, Preparing for a Good Death, and Active Dying.


    From proactive steps to consider in middle age, to the five emotional tasks of dying, Katy Butler lays the groundwork for ensuring the most peaceful passing possible.

    The author of the New York Times bestseller Knocking on Heaven’s Door, Katy Butler’s articles have appeared in The New York Times Magazine, The Best American Science Writing, and The Best American Essays. A finalist for a National Magazine Award, she lives in Northern California.



    The ticket package for Innovation +Leadership: Katy Butler with THE ART OF DYING WELL on Wednesday, March 6, at 7pm is $41. In addition to a reserved seat, the package includes a copy of THE ART OF DYING WELL ($26 hardcover), a bar beverage, Q+A, and book signing meet-and-greet. Packages can be purchased online at TheMusicHall.org, over the phone at 603.436.2400, or in person at the B2W Box Office at the Historic Theater, 28 Chestnut Street.

    About Innovation + Leadership

    In this Age of Participation, The Music Hall has expanded its programming to focus on issues critical to our time. The Innovation + Leadership series was first launched nearly five years ago to serve our local business community, bringing together the best and the brightest in technology. The series has since broadened to showcase opinion leaders, authors and all variety of educators, and to serve audiences from a tri-state region and beyond—all who are interested in bettering the worlds they live in, at work and at home, locally and around the world. These lively and informative conversations feature experts in their field sharing experiences and providing participants practical tools for making meaningful advances in their lives. From demonstrations in the art of all things digital to special forums featuring regional and global leaders in sustainability, from book discussion-demonstrations on the positive effect of meditation to awareness-raising events led by today’s champions in philanthropy, feminism, and family matters, each Innovation + Leadership event is memorable and impactful. The Music Hall is committed to community building and personal flourishing. Our Innovation + Leadership series delivers on that commitment.


    Presenting Sponsor: Alnoba

    Series Sponsors: Atlantic Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine; Bangor Savings Bank

    Season Sponsors: Carey & Giampa Realtors; Portwalk Place; The River House Restaurant

    Contributing Partner: University of New Hampshire




    “Free of platitudes, Butler's voice makes the most intimidating of processesthat of dying—come across as approachable. Her reasonable, down-to-earth tone makes for an effective preparatory guide to the permanent holiday upon which everyone eventually embarks.”—Publishers Weekly


    “No, you won’t survive your death, but you can live until the very last moment without the pain and humiliation that inevitably accompany an over-medicalized dying process. Katy Butler shows how, and I am profoundly grateful to her for doing so.”—Barbara Ehrenreich, author of Natural Causes


    “THE ART OF DYING WELL is the best guidebook I know of for navigating the later stages of life. Katy Butler’s counsel is simple and practical, but the impact of this book is profound. A remarkable feat.”—Ira Byock, MD, author of Dying Well and The Best Care Possible, Active Emeritus Professor of Medicine, the Geisel School of Medicine at Dartmouth


    “I wish every one of my patients would read this book—it is like having a wise friend explaining exactly what you need to know about coping with aging or living with a serious illness. It’s not only about dying-- it’s about getting what you need from your medical care, including all the insider stuff your doctors and nurses don’t always want to say. We can all learn from Katy Butler—especially doctors—about how to talk to each other more clearly and kindly about decisions that matter.”—Anthony Back MD, Medical Oncology and Palliative Medicine, Co-Director, Cambia Palliative Care Center of Excellence, University of Washington


    “This is a book to devour, discuss, dog-ear, and then revisit as the years pass. Covering matters medical, practical, financial and spiritual— and, beautifully, their intersection— Katy Butler gives wise counsel for the final decades of our ‘wild and precious’ lives. A crucial addition to the bookshelves of those seeking agency, comfort and meaning, THE ART OF DYING WELL is not only about dying. It's about living intentionally and in community.”—Lucy Kalanithi, MD, FACP, Clinical Assistant Professor of Medicine, Stanford School of Medicine


    “This book is filled with deep knowledge and many interesting experiences. It is a guide for staying as healthy and happy as possible while aging, and also shows how important it is to be medically informed and know our rights in the communities where we live, in order to stay in charge of our lives and therefore less afraid of the future. Katy Butler has written a very honest book. I just wish I had read it ten years ago. You can do it now!”—Margareta Magnusson, author of The Gentle Art of Swedish Death Cleaning


    THE ART OF DYING WELL is a guide to just that: how to face the inevitable in an artful way. Katy Butler has clear eyes and speaks plainly about complicated decisions. This book is chock-full of good ideas.”—Sallie Tisdale, author of Advice for Future Corpses


    “In plain English and with plenty of true stories to illustrate her advice, Katy Butler provides a brilliant map for living well through old age and getting from the health system what you want and need, while avoiding what you don't. Armed with this superb book, you can take back control of how you live before you die.”—Diane E. Meier, MD, Director, Center to Advance Palliative Care


    “Katy Butler has given us a much needed GPS for navigating aging and death. THE ART OF DYING WELL is a warm, wise and straightforward guide, hugely helpful to anyone—everyone—who will go through the complex journey to the end of life.”—Ellen Goodman, Founder, The Conversation Project



    Knocking on Heaven’s Door is a thoroughly researched and compelling mix of personal narrative and hard-nosed reporting that captures just how flawed care at the end of life has become."Abraham Verghese, New York Times Book Review

    "Butler’s advice is neither formulaic nor derived from pamphlets...[it] is useful, and her challenge of our culture of denial about death necessary...Knocking on Heaven’s Door [is] a book those caring for dying parents will want to read and reread. [It] will help those many of us who have tended or will tend dying parents to accept the beauty of our imperfect caregiving."Suzanne Koven, Boston Globe

    "...A triumph, distinguished by the beauty of Ms. Butler's prose and her saber-sharp indictment of certain medical habits. [Butler offers an] articulate challenge to the medical profession: to reconsider its reflexive postponement of death long after lifesaving acts cease to be anything but pure brutality."Abigail Zuger, MD, New York Times

    "Knocking on Heaven's Door is more than just a guide to dying, or a personal story of a difficult death: It is a lyrical meditation on death written with extraordinary beauty and sensitivity."San Francisco Chronicle

    "[A] deeply felt book...[Butler] is both thoughtful and passionate about the hard questions she raises— questions that most of us will at some point have to consider. Given our rapidly aging population, the timing of this tough and important book could not be better."Laurie Hertzel, Minneapolis Star Tribune

    “Katy Butler’s science background and her gift for metaphor make her a wonderfully engaging storyteller, even as she depicts one of our saddest but most common experiences: that of a slow death in an American hospital. Knocking on Heaven’s Door is a terrible, beautiful book that offers the information we need to navigate the complicated world of procedure and technology-driven health care.”Mary Pipher, author of Reviving Ophelia and Seeking Peace: Chronicles of the Worst Buddhist in the World

    "This is the most important book you and I can read. It is not just about dying, it is about life, our political and medical system, and how to face and address the profound ethical and personal issues that we encounter as we care for those facing dying and death. [This book's] tenderness, beauty, and heart-breaking honesty
    matches the stunning data on dying in the West. A splendid and compassionate endeavor."Joan Halifax, PhD, Founding Abbot, Upaya Institute/Zen Center and Director, Project on Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death


    “This is a book so honest, so insightful and so achingly beautiful that its poetic essence transcends even the anguished story that it tells. Katy Butler’s perceptive intellect has probed deeply, and seen into the many troubling aspects of our nation’s inability to deal with the reality of dying in the 21st century: emotional, spiritual, medical, financial, social, historical and even political. And yet, though such valuable insights are presented with a journalist’s clear eye, they are so skillfully woven into the narrative of her beloved parents’ deaths that every sentence seems to come from the very wellspring of the human spirit that is in her."—Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, author of How We Die: Reflections of Life’s Final Chapter


    About The Music Hall
    The Music Hall is an active and vital cultural center in downtown Portsmouth, New Hampshire, dedicated to the advancement of the tri-state region’s cultural life through the performing arts, literature, and education. A community-supported 501(c)3 nonprofit organization, it presents entertainment from around the world and around the corner—the greatest musicians, writers, and performers of the time, extraordinary films, and award-winning documentaries. Its 600 yearly events delight an annual audience of 130,000 (including 20,000 children) in two theaters—an 1878 Victorian-era Historic Theater and the modern and intimate Loft space. The Music Hall was recently named Editors’ Choice “Best All-Around Entertainment” by Yankee Magazine and is a designated “American Treasure for the Arts.” Through innovative community partnerships, it subsidizes thousands of tickets each year to make the arts accessible to all. The Music Hall is community-oriented and committed to helping the Seacoast region flourish.

    Web: www.TheMusicHall.org | Twitter: @MusicHall | Facebook: /musichall | YouTube: /musichallnh

    “The crown jewel of Portsmouth’s cultural scene” - Yankee Magazine

    “The beating cultural heart of New Hampshire's seacoast” - Boston Globe

    Brittany Wason
    (603) 436-2400