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From The CriticsReviewer: Lisa Stepp, PhD, RN, APN, AOCN, CRNH (Private Practice)
Description: As we move into the new century, one question remains as a central theme for humanity: "What is the meaning of life?" Ironically the answer to this question may actually be found in the study of dying.
Purpose: The purpose, as stated by the editor, is to increase the awareness of healthcare professionals and society to the severe neglect and isolation of dying patients. He uses personal accounts of his client's own words to meet this objective in a poignant and compassionate way in the hope that future patients will not suffer these indignities.
Audience: While the text is obviously designed for the student and practitioner of thanatology, there are lessons to be learned here on living that relate to all human beings. The editor's experience in facilitating the dying process for numerous individuals provides him with a unique insight and perspective of this delicate topic.
Features: In the framework of death as a mirror of life's meaning, the editor attempts to provide the reader with an understanding of how we find the art of living in the art of dying. The use of personal accounts and diaries makes the text come alive. The reader recognizes that this is not just a report of patients' experiences but a story told by the patients themselves in their own words.
Assessment: Many times patients do not feel that they can truly express what they are thinking and feeling. In the safe environment provided in this study, patients were able to express ideas and emotions that are often left suppressed and ignored. Of the greatest interest in this text is the underlying theme that the meaning and accomplishments of individuals' lives can shape their death experience.