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Dying Well is not just a story about a husband and wife who learn how to celebrate life while facing impending death. This book is an inspiring love story of two people who go through good times and bad times, and in the end, face death with dignity and grace. The author thoughtfully relays their plan to celebrate life, not have regrets and face death peacefully, without fear. In this nine month journey, Susan shares the lessons learned as their family came to accept her husband’s imminent death. The family found many ways to make the last stage of his life as warmhearted and happy as possible. Even though this book is about death and end of life, it is very uplifting, thought-provoking and offers different perspectives on dying. This book has the power to help anyone who is facing death and those they love realize what is most important at the end of life.
As a retired hospice nurse, I have seen many families struggle with accepting a loved one’s terminal illness diagnosis. Even more difficult, once the diagnosis has been accepted, figuring out what needs to be done before death, which usually comes sooner than one would expect. Each family member has their own ideas of what should be done. Typically these family members are very verbal and push their own fears, desires and needs upon the dying family member. This creates extra stress for the person who is terminally ill. Ultimately, the patient’s wishes should be respected and followed as closely as possible.
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I really appreciated Susan’s approach in this difficult situation. She was completely supportive to all family members, especially her husband. Different options were discussed with the family. When Susan and Bruce finally decided they had enough treatment and wanted to live life with dignity to the end, not every family member agreed with them. The family did end up agreeing to honor Bruce’s wishes. Bruce went into hospice care and the family helped him celebrate his life and wrap up loose ends along the way.
Hospice is not some big scary word. it is a care philosophy. This care can be provided wherever the patient resides: home, apartment, hotel, group home, nursing home or inpatient hospice facility. Hospice is really a type of care that focuses on the palliation of a chronically ill, terminally ill or seriously ill patient’s pain and symptoms, and attending to their emotional and spiritual needs. Family involvement is always encouraged. The hospice team, which consists of a nurse, social worker, chaplain and hospice aide, provides care for the patient and family. This care continues even after the patient has died. The pre-bereavement and bereavement support is phenomenal and can help families cope and thrive after the death of a loved one.
Planning for death is not an easy thing for most people. Just like planning for a birth, planning for death is just as important, if not more important. Even if you are not ill, it is a great idea to make your wishes known in writing and select a healthcare power of attorney to make decisions for you if you are ever incapacitated. This book presents many different practical options for end of life care and decision making. Susan did an excellent job in sharing end of life information in a non threatening way. I feel like she took the ‘scary’ out of death planning. In the end, it is truly the person’s life that should be celebrated.
About the Author:
Susan Ducharme Hoben is a former executive consultant with IBM’s Strategy and Change Consulting practice. She put her mathematics degree from Cornell University and graduate studies at Georgia Institute of Technology to good use in a thirty-five year career in information technology that began with systems engineering with IBM and ended with consulting. Upon retirement, Sue founded a travel journal about luxury barging in Europe.
After a lifetime of watching people die, and just as importantly, watching people live, Sue feels passionately that we Americans do not die well, taking a terrible toll on us, emotionally and financially. She hopes that her experience with an uplifting end-of life journey can contribute a valuable perspective to the growing interest in exploring how we die.
About the Reviewer:
Leigh Ann Tatnall is a retired RN who specialized in geriatrics, hospice and wellness. She has completed a Doctorates in Naturopathy and is a Certified Wellness Counselor. When not reviewing books, you can find Leigh Ann researching lyme disease, cooking, exercising, teaching wellness or crafting therapeutic essential oils. For more info, you can visit her on her website: Purfume Essentials or Leigh Ann’s Lyme