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Dying Well

The Prospect For Growth At The End Of Life

by Ira Byock, M.D.

Hardcover, 299 pages
Published by Riverhead Books
Publication date: February 1, 1997
ISBN: 1573220515


Dr. Ira Byock [web site: www.dyingwell.org] is a prominent spokesperson for the hospice movement and a former president of the Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine. He is also Director of the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation's National Program Office, Promoting Excellence in End-of-Life Care.

As director of a hospice in his own home town of Missoula, Montana, he has sat at the bedside with many families dealing with death. He now gives us a hopeful book with the message that the immediacy of death can give rare opportunities for emotional and spiritual growth.

Dr. Byock tells the true stories of his own father's death and other families he has known that have found growth, love, and reconciliation in the face of pain, conflict, and death. His practical advice shows families how to work with medical caregivers, relatives, and one another to make the most of the precious time that remains. This book has a range of material that will be of interest to both professional caregivers and the general public.

Along the way Byock shares his opinions on the euthanasia debate, assisted suicide, vegetative states, and feeding tubes. Not all the deaths described in this book are easy or free of pain. The story of Terry, a 31-year-old mother with cancer, illustrates the fine distinction between hastening death and ensuring comfort.

The message is clear that with top-quality medical care the physical pain of dying almost always can be controlled, but healing emotional pain requires skills that go beyond the customary physician's toolkit. For those deeper pains only honesty, forgiveness, and a loving good-bye offer help.

Table of Contents

1. Teaching About Living, Teaching About Dying: Seymour Byock
2. Questioning Assumptions and Dawning Awareness: My Journey
3. Learning to Die Well: Anne-Marie Wilson
4. Suffering and Beyond: Douglas Kearney
5. Finding Dignity Amid Disease and Disintegration: Wallace Burke, Julia Rosauer, Hap Visscher
6. The Hardest Decisions and the Greatest Opportunities: Janelle Haldeman
7. Writing a Personal Script for Dying: Steve Morris
8. Accepting the Gift of Dependence and the Burden of Care: Jake Edwards
9. Growing Within Tragedy: Michael Merseal
10. Facing Unbearable Pain, Unspeakable Losses: Terry Matthews
11. Letting Go, Growing On: Maureen Riley
12. Getting There from Here: Social and Cultural Dimensions
Appendix. Writing Your Family's Story: Questions and Answers
Further Reading

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