IAHPC BOOK REVIEWS
by Dr. Roger Woodruff
Palliative Care Book of the Month:
PARENTS AND BEREAVEMENT
A Personal and Professional Exploration of Grief
Christine Young and Tracy Dowling
Oxford University Press, 2012
RRP £24.99, $US 47.95
What happens when a parent loses a child? What do we understand and what can we do about it? This remarkable little book provides many of the answers. There are chapters on grief and secondary losses, the effects on other members of the family and surviving children, anniversaries and memories and, of course, funerals. What sets this book apart is the way it is written. The first half of each chapter is told in the first person by a grieving parent, Tracy Dowling, which I thought were both insightful and extremely well-written; she has a remarkable memory for detail. The second half of each chapter is written by a counselor, Christine Young, who explains what we understand and what we can do from a professional perspective. Concentrating on one parent’s saga holds your attention and makes this book more focused, which can only heighten its value to anybody studying palliative care, particularly pediatric palliative care.
SPEAKING HONESTLY WITH SICK AND DYING CHILDREN AND ADOLESCENTS
Unlocking the Silence
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2012
RRP $US25.00, £13.00
Written by a German pediatric oncologist, this is a review of how our communication with sick and dying children and adolescents has evolved over the last 50 years. He reviews our knowledge and understanding of what well children know about sickness and death and contrasts this with the added insights of seriously ill or dying children. A rational and reasonable argument is developed for more open and honest communication with seriously ill children. This includes involvement of the child in any decision-making process, including discussions about palliative care. This book is about caring, which includes more open and honest communication. One shudders to think of what happened in times gone by. I was pleased to see that those who favored euthanasia rather than communication were dismissed in a few sentences. Another pleasure is the insightful little comments here and there, such as ‘Dying children frighten adults.’
WHAT REALLY MATTERS
7 Lessons for Living from the Stories of the Dying
Karen M. Wyatt
Select Books, 2012
RRP $US16.95, £14.50
Here are the distilled insights about the meaning and importance of spirituality to those who are dying, as well as those of us yet to come face to face with it, written by a doctor who has worked in hospice and palliative care for 25 years. The book is structured around the Seven Last Words of Jesus Christ - suffering, love, forgiveness, paradise, purpose, surrender and impermanence. Each lesion begins with a clinical story, followed by a discussion of the meaning and importance of the lesson to spirituality. I have to admit that the clarity of some of the associations left me a little behind, but with plenty to think about. The author’s own strong Christian views are clear, but I must give her due credit that the picture of spirituality that she paints has an almost universal applicability rather than one restricted to Christianity. This book left me wondering whether or not we should take a little more time in our busy day to think and reflect, and whether or not we would be better health care professionals for it. For no matter how accustomed we become to the clinical management of diseases like cancer and AIDS, there is always the professional and personal mountain called spirituality.
COMMUNICATING WITH CHILDREN WHEN A PARENT IS AT THE END OF LIFE
Jessica Kingsley Publishers, 2012
RRP £19.00, $US32.95.
How do you communicate with a child whose parent is dying? With difficulty is the answer. Is there a list of do's and don’ts, what is beneficial and what is harmful? Not really, because the circumstances will differ for each child and each family. How much does the child know or understand is a good starting point, but how much does the child want to know is a more challenging question. There are chapters on communication, starting conversations (including the barriers and pitfalls), as well as continuing conversations—the communication continuum. Some of the clinical examples are a bit dramatic, which may be good as a teaching exercise, but may not be as instructive for counseling in the real world. No short or readable text can cover all the contingencies and I think Fearnley presents a sound overview that will be useful in the classroom and as a guide to practice.
Roger Woodruff, MD (Australia)
Dr. Woodruff is a Lifetime Member of the IAHPC Board and past Chair. His bio may be found at http://www.hospicecare.com/Bio/r_woodruff.htm
View over 100+ IAHPC hospice & palliative care book reviews
Note for authors and publishers: If you wish to have your book reviewed, please send to:
Dr Roger Woodruff
IAHPC Bookshop Editor
210 Burgundy St, Suite 9
Heidelberg, Victoria 3084
Note: Review copies become property of IAHPC and are not returned to the author. Only palliative care related books which are previously approved will be reviewed. Due to the large number of requests, we can't provide exact dates of when books will be reviewed.
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