Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Final Journeys: A Practical Guide for Bringing Care and Comfort at the End of Life, by Maggie Callanan. Bantam Books, 2008

Maggie Callanan, along with Patricia Kelley, wrote “Final Gifts”, a groundbreaking book about how people die. “Final Journeys” is a companion book and focuses on the care giver’s role and how they can best help the dying and take care of themselves at the same time. She explains how entering hospice care is not ‘giving up’, what paperwork the dying (which is all of us, really) should have completed to make things easier for themselves and their loved ones, that it’s okay for the dying and the family to laugh and joke, and why you shouldn’t call 911 if the person does not want aggressive resuscitation. 

Callanan is a veteran hospice nurse with 27 years of experience working with the dying at the time she wrote this book. She’s helped innumerable families as a member passes on, and has seen all sorts of scenarios. In this book, she answers a lot of the questions that people have about giving care to a family member facing death. She doesn’t just dwell on the dying person, but on what the care giver experiences; how different people react to the impending death of a loved one; how they grieve; and various options for end of life care. The book is written in an easy to read style, even when dealing with medical details. I’m not a stranger to caregiving and dealing with death and I learned a lot from this book, especially about family dynamics. 

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