Safe Passage: A Global Spiritual Sourcebook for Care at the End of Lifeby Mark Lazenby
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The study and practice of end-of-life care has seen an increasing understanding of the need for care that integrates clinical, psychosocial, spiritual, cultural, and ethical expertise. Yet, no one existing volume pulls together perspectives from a diverse array of religions with ethical dilemmas and clinical problems in view. Safe Passage coaches clinicians and others on the front lines of care on understanding how to incorporate different traditions of thinking into the most difficult of moments around the end of life. The book is structured around five major moments of realization - when disease progresses, when emergencies happen, when dying will be a long process, the time of death, and when grieving begins. Each decision point is introduced with a research summary and an extensive case example that describes disease processes, health care delivery possibilities, and the end-of-life dilemmas involved so as to apply across the varying cultural, socio-economic, and spiritual contexts. The case example is followed by a clinical commentary written by a palliative care specialist, an ethical commentary written by an ethicist, and three short essays written by religious thinkers of different traditions. Each situation is concluded by remarks on potential approaches that respect religious and spiritual beliefs, values, and practices at the end of life across all contexts, and a bibliography. The five decision points are bookended by an introductory section that explores broad historical and cultural perspectives and a conclusion section that summarizes the book and provides guidance for further reading and study.
Description: This unique book addresses end of life spiritual issues from a variety of perspectives, examining both religion and spirituality in the context of some of the world's largest cultures and religions.
Purpose: The purpose is to present perspectives about death from the world's most prevalent belief systems. Specifically, it is about how to discuss death in accordance with various beliefs and practices. The book arose out of the authors' desire to explore "sensitivities and susceptibilities to death's paralyzing and, at other times, pathological grip." The authors are successful in meeting these very important objectives.
Audience: One of the book's greatest strengths is the all-encompassing audience it strives to reach. According to the authors, this is a book for everyone, and I could not agree more. It is written for patients living with a life-limiting illness, their families, and friends. It is also written for clinicians and clergy. The editors have selected some of the top palliative care experts in the world as contributing authors, lending exceptional credibility to their work.
Features: I strongly encourage readers to follow the editors' advice, clearly spelled out in the beginning of the book, which is not to read the book in a linear fashion. It is a sourcebook and should be read as such, specifically selecting the topic of interest. The editors first cover the historical perspectives on end of life care based on geography. This establishes the foundation for the remainder of the book. Subsequent chapters cover beliefs and practices for a good death, always addressing clinical and ethical issues, followed by the specific major belief systems. The organization of the chapters and division by general categories and specific belief systems make this easy to use as a reference guide.
Assessment: This is a remarkably well-written resource. It is easy to use, meaning information is easily located, easy to read, and informative. While not intended as an exhaustive resource on spiritual issues at the end of life, it is a must-have addition to the library of any member of a palliative care team or clergy.
Meet the Author
JML:Assistant Professor, Yale University School of NursingRM: Florence Schorske Wald Professor of Nursing, Yale University School of NursingDPS: Kilbride-Clinton Professor of Medicine and Ethics, The University of Chicago
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