Changing the Way We Die is a vital resource for anyone who wants to be prepared to face life's most challenging and universal event. You will learn:
- Hospice use is soaring, yet most people come too late to get the full benefits.
- With the age tsunami, it becomes even more critical for families and patients to choose end-of-life care wisely.
- Hospice at its best is much more than a way to relieve the suffering of dying. It is a way to live.
Winner of the 2014 Independent Publisher Award Silver Medal in Aging/Death & Dying
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About the Author
Sheila Himmel is a Psychology Today blogger and co-author of Hungry: A Mother and Daughter Fight Anorexia (Penguin, 2009). She is a contributor to Restoring Our Bodies, Reclaiming Our Lives: Guidance and Reflections on Recovery from Eating Disorders (April 2011). Sheila writes for publications ranging from the New York Times to Eating Well to IEEE Spectrum: The Magazine of Technology Insiders. Her work has appeared in USA Today, the Washington Post, the Robb Report, M Magazine, and the online magazine Obit. As a restaurant critic of the San Jose Mercury News, Sheila won a James Beard Foundation Award for feature writing. She won awards from the Association of Food Journalists and the Associated Press News Editors Association, and uncovered fraud at a prominent Silicon Valley restaurant, revealing its longtime substitution of pork for veal. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Activist, anthropologist, author, caregiver, ecologist, LSD researcher, teacher, and Zen Buddhism priest Joan Halifax is many things to many people. Yet they all seem to agree that no matter what role she plays, Halifax is consistently courageous and compassionate. Halifax runs the Upaya Zen Center in New Mexico, a Zen Peacemaker community she opened in 1990 after founding and leading the Ojai Foundation in California for ten years. Her practice focuses on socially engaged Buddhism, which aims to alleviate suffering through meditation, interfaith cooperation, and social service.
As director of the Project on Being With Dying, Halifax has helped caregivers cope with death and dying for more than three decades. Her book Being With Dying helps clergy, community activists, medical professionals, social workers and spiritual seekers remove fear from the end of life. Halifax is a distinguished invited scholar of the U.S. Library of Congress and the only woman and Buddhist on the Tony Blair Foundation's Advisory Council. She resides in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Read an Excerpt
What Do You Want to Do with the Rest of Your Life?
ALL ALONG, doctors differed on Rusty Hammer’s prognosis. One told his wife, Pamela, “If he lasts five years, he’ll be lucky.” Another kept reassuring Rusty, “You never know. You’re doing fine. Just get more rest.”
He did last five years, and Pamela will always wonder whether the treatment was worth the torment.
Rusty was diagnosed with acute myelogenous leukemia, a rare and aggressive blood cancer. By the time he died, on Monday, Jan. 28, 2008, he had taken more than 250 medications, received more than 350 blood transfusions, had a stem cell transplant, and spent nearly 600 nights in six different hospitals. He developed severe diabetes and osteoporosis, heart and lung failure. He needed an oxygen tank to breathe and a shunt in his brain to relieve the pain. Visiting the doctor took all day, with the wheelchair, the drive, managing a hospital bed on the other end. It left them both exhausted, and hopeless that their family’s suffering would ever end.
But hospice care brought them comfort and calm. In the last six months of his life, Rusty enjoyed the company of family and friends. He explored his religious heritage. He wrote a book, and in a strange way he also became the author of his own experience a person again, not a medical record number or an object to be handed from one specialist to another for yet another blast of debilitating treatment. The hospice team listened to him. Pamela found herself becoming a better listener, too.
This was not how Rusty thought of hospice when a friend first suggested it. He did not imagine an opportunity to reclaim his life, let alone do something new or grow. He thought of hospice as a place you go to die, and he was appalled.
Table of Contents
Foreword Joan Halifax, Ph.D. xiii
Part 1 The Choice 1
1 What Do You Want to Do with the Rest of Your Life? 3
2 Birth of a Movement 13
3 Cure Versus Care 33
Part 2 The Patients 49
4 Evelyn Landes: House Calls 51
5 Alice and Ying Wun: A Fragile Family Peace 63
6 Peter Serrell: Final Fast 73
7 Fred Holliday: Inside the Catch-22 of Hospice 83
Part 3 The Survivors
8 Up from the Abyss 97
9 Turning Points 109
Part 4 The Providers 119
10 The Gift of Grace 121
11 New Course for Doctors 135
12 Dying for Dollars 149
13 Cultural Revolutions 167
14 Not If, But When 177
About the Authors 225