Kirkus Reviews QR Code


Conversations and Choices: A Guide

by Alan Bingham

Pub Date: Oct. 14th, 2016
ISBN: 978-1-4787-7879-0
Publisher: Outskirts Press

Crucial help on navigating the process of dying.

In the second edition of retired hospice care company executive Bingham’s 2016 guidebook on how to prepare for the “final rite of passage,” his core message remains unchanged: that the terminally ill have choices about the last stages of life, and that they should express them to loved ones well in advance. He provides comprehensive information on pain control, Medicare, elder law, caregivers, hospice facilities, advance directives, wills, funerals, and solidifying one’s legacy. This updated edition includes more recent legal and financial developments and societal shifts that affect end-of-life decisions, including an added section on medical marijuana. It also covers how to deal with receiving a diagnosis, how to plan for death, and how to prepare others for it. But although the book deals with solemn subject matter, it’s never downbeat; instead, it’s comforting and empowering. Although no one can avoid death, Bingham says, one can, and should, design one’s own dying process. This short book is broken into straightforward sections that can be effectively consulted during each stage of the process. Bingham has a compassionate, nonclinical style, and he draws on his career in hospice and palliative care, which included countless hours with terminally ill patients. His approach aims to help readers make important choices, and then offers effective guidance on communicating these decisions to others. The book stands out from similar works, due to its specificity, as when it suggests language for delivering news of one’s impending death and responding to common reactions. For example, when a loved one expresses denial or evades the subject of death (“It’s too early to talk about that now”), Bingham suggests saying something like, “Yes, I know it is early, and I want to be sure that we are all aware of what is happening so that we can organize our lives as best we can. I want to be clear about what I would like while I can talk about it competently.”

A gem of a guidebook for readers who want to gain some control over the final stages of their lives.