Dying Well: The Prospect for Growth at the End of Lifeby Ira Byock, Arthur Byock
Nobody should have to die in pain. Nobody should have to die alone. This is Ira Byock's dream, and he is dedicating his life to making it come true. The longtime director of a hospice in his hometown, and a prominent spokesperson for the hospice movement, Dr. Byock believes that the possibility for us all to die well is just around the corner: the day is at hand when… See more details below
Nobody should have to die in pain. Nobody should have to die alone. This is Ira Byock's dream, and he is dedicating his life to making it come true. The longtime director of a hospice in his hometown, and a prominent spokesperson for the hospice movement, Dr. Byock believes that the possibility for us all to die well is just around the corner: the day is at hand when no pain among the dying will be considered unmanageable. He shows us that much important emotional work can be accomplished in the final months, weeks, and even days of life. Dying Well brings us to the homes and bedsides of families with whom Dr. Byock has worked, telling stories of love and reconciliation in the face of tragedy, pain, and conflict. It provides a blueprint for families, showing them how to deal with doctors, how to talk to friends and relatives, and how to make the end of life as meaningful and precious as the beginning. Here is a book like no other on the subject: hopeful, clearsighted, and life-changing.
Byock, a specialist in palliative care who directs a hospice in Missoula, Mont., has chosen stories that represent a wide range of experiences, each focusing on some aspect of human growth. Pseudonymns are used throughout except for Byock's moving account of his own father's death and the story of the Merseal family, whose dying son was the subject of a 1996 HBO documentary. What is crystal clear in all of them is that the full experience of dying is not captured from a purely medical perspective. Without proper medical care, dying can be agonizing, but relief of physical pain, which Byock contends is always possible, is by no means the whole picture. In his experience, emotional pain is more intense and requires more skillful intervention. Dying well, says Byock, involves reaching certain landmarks, which he encourages his patients to achieve: asking forgiveness, accepting forgiveness, expressing love, acknowledging self-worth, and saying good-bye. One of the hardest to read of Byock's stories describes the death of Terry, a 31-year-old mother with cancer who cannot reach these landmarks and suffers greatly. Her story also illustrates the fine distinction between hastening death and ensuring comfort. Byock, who argues that the euthanasia debate has distracted our attention from more logical and humane approaches, is not afraid to give his considered opinions about assisted suicide, vegetative states, and feeding tubes.
Often reminiscent of Michael Kearney's recent Mortally Wounded (p. 1029), which described that doctor's work with patients in an Irish hospice, this is another powerful argument in favor of the hospice movement and rejection of the Kevorkian approach.
- Gale Group
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- 5.72(w) x 8.77(h) x 1.19(d)
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