Indeed, a gentle guide written by hospice director, Kathie Quinlan, who presided over two-bed Isaiah House dedicated to serving dying patients.
"One thing is quite certain: our death will come. Much anguish would be spared, both for individuals and society, if each of us could come to terms with this anticipated, natural, and momentous event in our lives... We know neither the hour nor the day, but at some point each of us will be in the throes of its mystery and majesty."
With stories of some of her charges, references to resources and her own experiences, Quinlan guides us towards the acceptance of what will certainly come. The subject may be intense, but Quinlan shares smiles, even laughter along the way. She reminisces about her mother dying. "Mom, do you think you might be dying?... And her reply? 'I don't know. I've never done it before.'"
People do not want to feel abandoned as they finish their life work. They want to be remembered, so listening to their stories is part of helping them exit this life. When family become distressed because a loved one is not connecting, they must remember that dying is an inward journey and they do not have the strength to be both inward and outward.
Quinlan's third chapter is about being with those who are dying. Much of it is just being there—even in silence. Quinlan coaches us to listen and feel compassion. Later, she writes of some of the Hospice Movement history. Then, she guides us through the grief process. "The pain we feel is just a reminder that we loved so deeply." She counsels us to consider our pain like a stormy sea which will eventually calm.
The last chapter, different in tone, suggests way for us to prepare for our own death, including the writing of our own legacy or ethical will.
Blessing our Goodbyes is a short, quiet and lovingly written guide.
Kathie Quinlan is a registered hospice nurse and retired direcdtor of Isaiah House in Rochester, NY. She speaks frequently on issues related to death, dying and living.
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