Living in death's shadow : family experiences of terminal care and irreplaceable loss /

What is it like to live with--and love--someone whose death, while delayed, is nevertheless foretold? In Living in Death’s Shadow, Emily K. Abel, an expert on the history of death and dying, examines memoirs written between 1965 and 2014 by family members of people who died from chronic disease. In...

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Main Author: Abel, Emily K., (Author)
Format: Book
Published:Baltimore : Johns Hopkins University Press, 2017.
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Review by Choice Review

Most people neither anticipate nor prepare for protracted caregiving for a loved one facing the end of life. Such caring involves highly technical and specialized skills for medications, wounds, and treatments and the desire to preserve the patient's dignity and self-esteem. Using a historical perspective, Abel (emer., UCLA-Fielding School of Public Health) examines 105 family accounts of people who suffered and died from diverse chronic diseases. She expertly weaves a tapestry of the common experiences of confronting chronic illness and challenges prevailing assumptions of benefits of increasing individual autonomy, of encouraging acceptance of mortality, and of altering the site of death from institution to home. Abel explains how some people seek hope, experimental trials, and spiritual practices, while others confront the failure of medicine and experience the realities of hospice. Vignettes thoroughly illustrate burdens and benefits of end-of-life caregiving, including providing intimate care, facing crushing health care costs, and managing health care settings and professionals. Caregiving offers rewards; yet it is stressful, exhausting, and emotionally draining. Dying is protracted and it is necessary to consider the dismal state of long-term care, hospice, restrictive visiting rules, secrecy surrounding prognoses, non-therapeutic clinical trial goals, and the belief that end-of-life care is a family responsibility. Summing Up: Recommended. All readers. --Sharon M. Valente, University of California, Los Angeles; Department of Veterans Affairs

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.

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