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Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death
     

Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death

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by Joan Halifax, Ira Byock (Foreword by)
 

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The Buddhist approach to death can be of great benefit to people of all backgrounds—as has been demonstrated time and again in Joan Halifax’s decades of work with the dying and their caregivers. Inspired by traditional Buddhist teachings, her work is a source of wisdom for all those who are charged with a dying person’s care, facing their own

Overview

The Buddhist approach to death can be of great benefit to people of all backgrounds—as has been demonstrated time and again in Joan Halifax’s decades of work with the dying and their caregivers. Inspired by traditional Buddhist teachings, her work is a source of wisdom for all those who are charged with a dying person’s care, facing their own death, or wishing to explore and contemplate the transformative power of the dying process. Her teachings affirm that we can open and contact our inner strength, and that we can help others who are suffering to do the same.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
“A moving meditation on palliative care. . . . A supremely readable book that will attract readers of all faiths who will appreciate her clarity and compassion and the poignancy of these stories of ordinary people facing their final hours with quiet courage.”—Publishers Weekly

“This compelling, brave, and wise book draws from a lifetime of remarkable work with people at the end of life.”—Andrew Weil, MD

“Joan Halifax has a knack for straight talk and sublime insight—a no-holds-barred approach to life’s greatest challenge, dying well. This book beckons to those who dare, and those who care; it’s a profound and practical guidebook to the inevitable final dance.”—Daniel Goleman, author of Emotional Intelligence

“This book is a gift of wisdom and practical guidance for living.”— Ira Byock, MD , author of Dying Well and The Four Things That Matter Most

Publishers Weekly

In this moving meditation on palliative care, Halifax tells a story about a dying Zen teacher who confesses to his students: "Maybe I will die in fear or pain. Remember there is no right way." This sentiment forms the core of a book that provides practical and philosophical guidance to caregivers. Drawing on her 30 years of experience in the "contemplative care of the dying," Halifax honestly enumerates the challenges of being with the dying while exalting it as "a school for unlearning the patterns of resistance... [it] enjoins us to be still, let go, listen, and be open to the unknown." According to Halifax, "bearing witness to dying" can teach innumerable lessons to the living—assuming "we give up our tight control strategies, our ideas of what it means to die well." Halifax is a Zen priest, and while many of her teachings derive from Buddhism, her supremely readable book will attract readers of all faiths who will appreciate her clarity and compassion and the poignancy of these stories of ordinary people facing their final hours with quiet courage. (June)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781590307182
Publisher:
Shambhala
Publication date:
11/17/2009
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
224
Sales rank:
250,109
Product dimensions:
6.06(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.57(d)

Meet the Author

Joan Halifax, PhD, is a Zen priest and anthropologist who has served on the faculty of Columbia University and the University of Miami School of Medicine. For the past thirty years she has worked with dying people and has lectured on the subject of death and dying at Harvard Divinity School, Harvard Medical School, Georgetown Medical School, and many other academic institutions. In 1990, she founded Upaya Zen Center, a Buddhist study and social action center in Santa Fe, New Mexico. In 1994, she founded the Project on Being with Dying, which has trained hundreds of healthcare professionals in the contemplative care of dying people.

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Being with Dying: Cultivating Compassion and Fearlessness in the Presence of Death 4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Judy_Croome More than 1 year ago
BEING WITH DYING is specifically aimed at professional caregivers, but non-professional caregivers, such as family members and friends who provide caregiving for a dying person, will find excellent support to guide them along their spiritual path. With unflinching honesty and deep compassion for the dying person, Halifax explores all the aspects of dying and death that, in being with a dying person, a caregiver may experience. She deals with the spiritual, physical, mental and emotional processes that dying activates and how this affects both the dying person and those around him. There was some bias against family members and friends acting as caregivers to the dying. All her empathy lies with the dying person, which is as it should be, but Halifax is, at times, quite unsympathetic to the emotional pain, suffering and struggle from the family caregivers’ side. Her negative view of caretaker archetypes reveals a subtle disdain for the role of family caregivers. Unfortunately, this slightly detracts from the inherent wisdom of her advice and Buddhist philosophy. Not all of us have the temperament or self-mastery to become a detached caregiver. All non-professional caregivers do is try to give their loved ones the best that they can out of love. Yes, with hindsight, the mistakes they make may have made dying more difficult for the departing soul, but the resulting guilt also makes the loss harder to bear even when the non-professional caregiver knows the loved one’s soul is finally at peace. Halifax’s compassion was all for the dying and there was very little left over for the family members living for years in that strange limbo between deep love, anticipatory grief and impending loss. Despite this, the wise reflections, the meditations and the practical advice presented in BEING WITH DYING helped me through the very trying time of my beloved Father’s active dying. Coincidentally, I started reading this book the night he had his third and final stroke, and I finished it 11 days later, the day after his funeral. I regret that I only found this book three years after my role as caregiver to my Father began, because I can see the mistakes I made, despite having help from a professional caregiver for the last 18 months. But I do gain some small comfort from the fact that, in the 6 days it took my beloved Father to actively die, I feel this book truly helped me ease his path slightly (by just sitting quietly with him and following his lead.) I also found the breathing meditations helped me calm my mind and relax my body during this intensely emotional time. Ultimately, BEING WITH DYING was a worthwhile and comforting read for me. I highly recommend BEING WITH DYING, no matter what stage of the caregiver’s role you are currently in.
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