IN THE LIGHT OF DYING: The Journals of a Hospice V by Joan Leslie Taylor

IN THE LIGHT OF DYING: The Journals of a Hospice V

Email this review


The experiences of a compassionate hospice volunteer and the nine women and one man whom she comforted as their lives were ending. Like most American hospices, the one Taylor worked for stresses at-home care, moving patients to full-care facilities only when no other option is open. Sometimes Taylor merely provided a sympathetic ear, look patients on outings, or ran an occasional errand. Other times she showed up regularly to permit a beleaguered family member or caretaking friend a needed break. Although the prognosis was inevitably deterioration and death-almost always from cancer--each patient was uniquely individualistic. Anna, an 88-year-old survivor of three husbands and the Russian and Chinese revolutions, was "an angry porcupine" railing at her increasing helplessness. She finally accepted Taylor, who plied her with "pain medication, tea and conversation." Taylor's assignment with prickly, erratic Lucille was to encourage her to reconcile herself with her relatives and "help her let go." These goals were never accomplished, but she brightened Lucille's last days with poetry readings. And for eight months she gave several hours a week to spell a friend who had assumed full care of ever-upbeat, kindly Tom, a gay ex-hairdresser who, to the end, insisted that radiation therapy was curing the brain tumor that relentlessly destroyed his mind and body. This first published effort is no upper; but it does provide an excellent inside look at the day-to-day care of dying patients in a hospice situation.

ISBN: 8264-0425-1
Publisher: Continuum
Review Posted Online: