The Art of Conversation Through Serious Illness: Lessons for Caregivers

The Art of Conversation Through Serious Illness: Lessons for Caregivers

by Richard McQuellon, Michael Cowan

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Overview

Every day, thousands of people receive a diagnosis of serious, life-threatening illness, and their families and friends suddenly become caregivers. Despite the best of intentions it is not always easy to communicate well under these circumstances, or find deep empathy for something one has never before experienced. When is it best to speak, and when to be silent? How can someone provide real comfort, and how can relationships with loved ones facing serious illness be enhanced in this most difficult time? This book is about how to be an encouraging caregiver and friend under the most difficult circumstances, when the possibility of death is all too real The authors believe that open dialogue must not be avoided until the last minute when opportunities will be limited, but that caregivers and loved ones can embrace this time, mortal time, honestly as a way to sensitively and compassionately engage with those for whom a central fact of life is realized--that all of our lives are time-limited. In The Art of Conversation Through Serious Illness, the authors consider how to best listen to and speak with one facing life-threatening illness, with lessons on being a primary conversation partner, becoming properly empathic and receiving empathy, maintaining everyday conversation, using platitudes appropriately, understanding healthy denial, and talking about dying. Offering bedside guidance usually only available to professionals and peppered with insightful anecdotes from the authors' own experiences, this gentle, succinct book is appropriate for anyone going through this uniquely difficult yet universal life experience. Features Explains in accessible language how to comfort and be there for those experiencing serious illness Provides bedside guidance usually only available to professional caregivers Offers lessons on being a primary conversation partner, becoming properly empathetic and receiving empathy, maintaining everyday conversati

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780195389227
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Publication date: 04/29/2010
Pages: 160
Sales rank: 806,549
Product dimensions: 5.00(w) x 6.90(h) x 0.50(d)

About the Author

Richard P. McQuellon, Ph.D. is Professor of Medicine, Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center.
Michael A. Cowan, Ph.D. is Assistant to the President, Loyola University New Orleans, and Executive Director of Common Good, a network of civic organizations working to rebuild and transform post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xi

Prologue xv

Introduction 3

The Birth of Possibility 3

Living with Mortality 5

Guidance for Caregivers in Mortal Time 8

Part I The Many Meanings of Mortal Time 13

Mortal Time: How Long Does It Last? 14

The Multiple Meanings of Mortal Time 16

Shattered Assumptions 8

Creating Meaning 19

Coping Style 20

What to Expect in Mortal Time 24

The Challenge and the Invitation of Mortal Time 33

A Question of Balance 34

The Prospect of Despair 35

Finding Meaning 37

Living in Mortal Time 41

Sources of Hope 44

Nevertheless, There Is Meaning 45

Part II Hope from Conversation 49

Hope for the Day 49

Avoiding Gloom 52

False Hope 53

Conversation 54

Healing Conversation: Basic Elements 56

Talking In and About Mortal Time 59

Conversation Partners 62

Empathy 64

Becoming Properly Empathetic 66

Receiving Empathy 65

Honesty: What Can I Say? 70

The Right Words 72

Acknowledging Fear 73

Everyday Conversation with Friends 75

Platitudes: Let's Hope for the Best and Prepare for the Worst 77

You First! 80

The Humane Use of Words: Effective Phrases in Mortal Time 81

Consideration and Disciplined Spontaneity 82

Censored Conversation vs. Active Listening 85

How Much Time Do I Have? 87

Appreciating Everyday Chatter 88

Denial? 89

Healthy Conversation About Dying 92

Practical Conversation 94

Part III Guidance for Caregivers 99

Being a Companion in Mortal Time 99

Kind Companions 100

The Costs and Risks of Companionship 104

The Nine Personal Virtues Most Needed in Mortal Time 106

A Word to Caregivers 117

Resilience and Absorbing Suffering 118

Empathy Shift 120

Sharing the Darkness 122

Mending 123

The Art of Conversation Through Serious Illness 123

Notes 125

Bibliography 131

Index 135

Author Contact Information 144

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