Nina McKissock drew this oncology/hospice nurse in: "This is my memoir as a hospice nurse for the last fifteen years. It's my belief that the stories will enhance people's understanding that even though there may not be a cure, there can be a great healing within in the dying process." I wanted to immediately offer up a resounding "YES!" I also wanted to immediately share these words with so many people who struggle with the concept of hospice care.
McKissock shares the stories of twenty-one individuals who, at their various ages and with their various afflictions, are within six months of their own deaths. She has changed the names to protect privacy, but she has captured the essence of what it means to be a hospice patient or family member of one who is on hospice, and a nurse whose incredible privilege it is to guide her patients on their final journey.
From Sun to Sun is sensitive, enlightening, honest and compassionate at every turn of the page. Readers will experience the roller coaster of emotions that is the life of those in hospice care. At times, I was moved to tears. Other times, the deeply personal telling of the human condition brought a smile and a sense of recognition to my heart.
McKissock's eloquent memoir is her gift to the reader. I would like to add that she has given a boost to the effort to remove the stigma of hospice, which some perceive to be a giving up, resignation, or death sentence. Through these twenty-one stories, readers will come to realize that hospice is far from a negative.
Given the fact that one day we will all face the death of a loved one—or perhaps our own mortality—From Sun to Sun teaches some very valuable lessons including the importance of listening:
Listening is all about giving; it heals through the power of its generosity. It is an open-handed gift that asks nothing in return. I can't imagine a more valuable gift for someone who is dying. Listening asks us to be surprised, not to have agendas and not to judge. Good listening requires that we direct attention toward the other person and also into our own inner life. (p 97-98).
Sprinkled with gems like the one on listening, this is definitely a must-read for all who work in the hospice arena, as well as care-givers to those with life-threatening illnesses and those who offer spiritual care to patients, care givers and healthcare providers alike.
Nina Angela McKissock is a registered nurse who has spent much of her career in hospice nursing. Among her accomplishments, she has been on staff at The National Cancer Institute in Frederick, Maryland and Hahnemann University Hospital in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. McKissock founded the Serenity House and Hospice Support in Doylestown, PA and was featured on the Spirituality Channel's three-part television series "From Hospice to Heaven."
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