Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness
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A clear guide and a steadying hand for those with a life-threatening illness: medical, emotional, spiritual—and above all, practical—help for day-to day living. Lynn (director of the George Washington Medical School Center to Improve Care of the Dying) and Harrold (a fellow at the National Cancer Institute) have abundant experience and it shows here. They clarify and articulate the issues and concerns, physical and otherwise, that come with facing death. First and foremost, “If you have been pursuing all sorts of treatments and technology that are uncomfortable, how do you know when to let go of these and make different plans for how to spend the rest of your life?” From this starting point, the authors are able to help readers create their own approaches to a period of life when the duration and timing are unpredictable, but a singular opportunity exists for growth and finding peace. Lynn and Harrold go on to consider practicalities at length and in depth, from helping families make decisions as a unit to finding community support services, communicating with physicians, and controlling pain and other disturbing symptoms. When the end is in sight, the authors again first provide a focus: “How do you handle the urgent need to find meaning for yourself in what is soon to be a completed life?” Then, practical help abounds: among the issues, plans that must be made ahead, decisions to forgo medical treatment, and hastening death. Lynn and Harrold’s discussion of assisted suicide is a model of sensitive, knowledgeable medical care. Coping with the events near death, enduring loss, and help with some specific situations (loss of children among them) receive the same illuminating discussion. An up-to-date resource list rounds out this guide. An unflinching look at the painful tasks and opportunities for growth that accompany the end of life; coupled with invaluable help for completing them.

Pub Date: March 1st, 1999
ISBN: 0-19-511662-3
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: Oxford Univ.
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1999


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