LIVING WITH DEATH AND DYING by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross


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To be published just a few months after Kubler-Ross's lackluster authorized biography (Quest, 1980), this brings readers up-to-date on her most recent work, helping children cope with death, and also reviews adult needs. Two chapters--on death as a shared experience and the issue of sudden death--come from Kubler-Ross herself; another was written by Gregg Furth, the psychologist under her tutelage who analyzes the art work of dying children; and the fourth is the revealing report of a six-year-old's illness and death, written by the child's mother, Martha Pearse Elliott. For her part, Kubler-Ross includes more examples of the slightly veiled language of the dying, and she suggests how families can be involved in the individual's struggle (""If you truly want to help dying patients, you cannot exclude the family""). She believes children--even the youngest--should be told that they will be reunited with dying parents, and she insists that families should see the bodies of those who die unexpectedly in order to mourn properly. Martha Elliott explores the kinds of decisions dying children and their parents face; she shows how hospital ward organization can ease the social pains of illness and how open discussion can help families prepare for death. The most affecting data comes from Furth, who studied in London with Susan Bach, a Jungian analyst working with the spontaneous drawings of dying children for more than 20 years. He shows how their drawings can record unverbalized thoughts and feelings, enabling adults to identify needs for assistance. He cautions, however: ""drawing analysis should not be treated as a parlor game."" Kubler-Ross considers these collective efforts to be preventive psychiatry, and stands by principles she first espoused in 1969, especially the importance of not concealing information from terminal patients. There is nearly nothing about Shanti Nilaya, her California Growth and Healing Center, or the belief in life-after-death which she has come to embrace. From the start, her ideas have touched people deeply; this new book, relatively free of her more controversial opinions, is a sound extension of previous work.

Pub Date: March 23rd, 1981
Publisher: Macmillan