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Comforting the Dying, Enriching the Living
on July 26, 2000
This book is one of those rare works that combines passionate engagement with a universal issue, artful storytelling, and clinical expertise. The author allows each of the patients he describes to bless him, and thereby to bless the reader. Dying, the author argues, is not simply a holding pattern between life and death. It is a vital developmental time that holds infinite possiblities for deepening, learning to love, serving one another both as caregiver and receiver of care, and simply learning to "be" after what often has been a lifetime of mechanistic "doing." Such possibility is created when simple principles of Hospice are honored. Pain must be absolutely controlled. The patient (and the family) must be tenderly companioned. Such care, the author convinces us, is a privilege, a holy time in which human beings gather together in the face of Mystery in all of its agony and joy and wonder and transcendent meaning. We can only create human community, the author suggests, when we are willing to simultaneously look death in the face and to remain open to the gift of healing. I closed the book more alive, more thankful, less fearful, and more curious about the prospect of the adventures ahead.