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Handbook for Mortals is warmly addressed to all those who wish to approach the final years of life with greater awareness of what to expect and greater confidence about how to make the end of our lives a time for growth, comfort, and meaningful reflection. Written by Drs. Joanne Lynn and Joan Harrold and a variety of experts from nursing, hospice, counseling, and the arts, this book provides equal measures of practical information and gentle insight. Readers will learn what decisions they will need to face, where to look for help, how to ease pain and other symptoms, what to expect with specific diseases, and how the health-care system operates. Equally important to this practical information are the personal stories included here of how people have come to terms with dying, faced their fears, and made important choices.
From down-to-earth advice on how to talk to your doctor to inspiring quotes from such writers as W. H. Auden, Jane Kenyon, and others, Handbook for Mortals encompasses the needs of both the body and the spirit in our final years. Written for caregivers as well as the dying, Handbook for Mortals is an excellent resource for anyone facing the end of life. Authors Joanne Lynn, M.D., and Joan Harrold, M.D., offer sensitive and practical advice for the ambiguous final stage of a life-threatening illness--when hope for a recovery is waning and the patient and family members are turning toward a different horizon, that of accepting and supporting an imminent death. For the most part, the authors focus on physical concerns such as pain management, artificial feeding, and an especially poignant passage about assisted suicide.
Because of their backgrounds, the authors are also comfortable discussing the emotional complexities of dying, such as offering advice on giving and receiving forgiveness and resolving conflicts in close relationships. (Lynn is director of the Center to Improve Care of the Dying at George Washington University and Harrold is medical director of a Pennsylvania hospice.) The handbook offers many sidebars, including "Words to Try" when speaking with a sick person: instead of saying, "Dad, you are going to be just fine," the authors suggest saying, "Dad, are there some things that worry you?" Proceeds from the sale of the book support Americans for Better Care of the Dying, a national charitable organization devoted to improving care for the last stage of life. --Gail Hudson