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Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness 1st Edition

18 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0195116625
ISBN-10: 0195116623
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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

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 --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

From Library Journal

Designed for caregivers as well as patients, this book combines insights and inspiration with practical information and sensible suggestions for coping with critical, debilitating illnesses and the attendant problems such as accepting a new lifestyle, controlling pain, getting help, deciding on medical treatment, and enduring a loss. The death of a child, sudden death as the result of an accident, and similarly atypical instances are discussed briefly. Throughout, there are poignant excerpts from literature and case descriptions. Appendixes list organizations and sources of further information or assistance. Constance Joness R.I.P.: The Complete Book of Death and Dying (HarperCollins, 1997), which includes statistics, varying cultural practices, and more information resources, covers the topic more comprehensively. Nevertheless, this handbook, edited by the director of the Center To Improve Care for the Dying (http://www.gwu.edu/~cicd), exudes a compassion and warmth that will appeal to individual readers.Margaret Norden, Marymount Univ. Lib., Arlington, VA
Copyright 1999 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press; 1st edition (February 15, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195116623
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195116625
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #399,039 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Janice Lynch Schuster is an award-winning nonfiction writer whose work focuses on improving health care for all people. Her book, "Handbook for Mortals: Guidance for People Facing Serious Illness," received the 2012 Book Award from the American Medical Writers Association. She is a frequent contributor to The Washington Post, The Shriver Report, and Architects of Change by Maria Shriver. She is a contributing editor for Disruptive Women in Healthcare. The mother of six, Lynch Schuster is a poet, whose collection, "Saturday at the Gym," includes reflections on boxing, motherhood, and aging.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

54 of 55 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 28, 1999
Format: Hardcover
Drs. Lynn and Harrold have created an extraordinary volume: it gives very specific useable advice about options at the end of your or your loved one's life, yet is filled with remarkable poetry, photos, and anecdotes to have an emotionally positive impact on readers struggling with these issues. It is not a book to buy only when the end is near; it is something people should look at because it so directly handles an issue we think about most of our lives. Alot of fiction and non-fiction proports to be uplifting when it comes to dying; most of it is simple-minded and useless. This volume just knocks the socks off other "death" books. If these doctors can articulate their views half as well in person, they should be on every talkshow on TV. Oprah might want to pick this as her first non-fiction book club selection.
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27 of 27 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on February 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
I found this book days after leaving the hospital with a two year prognosis for a misdiagnosed illness. My head was spinning. I was making lists of questions and to do lists for leaving my 2 young children. Finding this book was a wonderful gift. It answered my questions and provided a realistic outlook for what to expect of a terminal condition. The book provides sample statements for calling your relatives and helps you to prepare for your doctor appointments. I visited a doctor today and I led the session and all of my questions were addressed before the exam occurred. This book should be recommended to all diagnosed with a terminal illness. Highly recommended book!
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on April 17, 2002
Format: Hardcover
I wish I had picked up this book earlier in my step-father's illness. Very useful for those who are facing illness or who love someone who is very ill, telling you the kinds of things to expect and ways of dealing them.
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29 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Rebecca Brown on May 19, 2000
Format: Hardcover
Death comes to us all - whether it's sudden or gradual; whether it's our own or someone close - leaving this garment, quitting this life, passing on to the next Grand Adventure. In each chapter of this detailed, simply written, expressive & compassionate volume, are poignant poems, soothing photos & sidebars of lists to walk us through from Living With Serious Illness to Finding Meaning to Helping Family Make Decisions and Give Care; from getting the Help You Need to Talking With Your Doctor; from Controlling Pain to Planning Ahead; from Hastening Death to The Dying of Children to Enduring Loss & beyond. A huge crew of researching assistants from the Center to Improve Care of the Dying out of George Washington University, put this Handbook for Mortals together & the caring insights, profound realizations & ordinary instructions make for a really useful book you can pick up at any time & not worry about disturbing someone in the middle of the night or during their busy work day.
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Patty Frances on September 19, 2007
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
As the wife of a young man dying of cancer, this book was an incredible aid to getting through each day and learning what to expect. That was 15 years ago. My sister-in-law faced the same situation recently when her husband was diagnosed, and I bought the book for her. She said she couldn't put it down until she read every page. We need to have that helping hand when we're hurting. This book is it!
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By M. Eileen Urquhart on March 26, 2006
Format: Paperback
I have owned this book for several years and decided to use it as an adjunct teaching tool for those training to become hospice volunteers. Every person in the group gave a high rating to this book. I will continue to use this book in future volunteer training classes. Eileen Urquhart, Hospice Volunteer Coordinator, Visiting Nurse Association Hospice of Cape Cod, Massachusetts
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Miss M on September 11, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
There are more comprehensive reviews of this book here. I just had to comment on what a treasure this book has been for me. So many of the books of this genre are for those caring for the dying; This addresses the person in the process.

I am have an incurable, untreatable progressive muscle disease. I've been looking for some guidance on living the time I have left well and dying gracefully.

I needed a guide to help me through the fears and questions about what death may be like. This book has practical information for the changes of the body, but also spoke to my spiritual concerns.

It has given me a guidepost for what lies ahead in this journey and for things I can do to make it more meaningful and make my physical self more comfortable.

If you or a loved one have a serious illness and need a guidebook on dying with grace and living with the same, buy this book.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Karen E. Pickler on May 13, 2007
Format: Paperback
This is a must have resource for all of us. It is a practical book that helps you with End of Life concerns and how to plan for them. Far too many people wait until a crisis to make desperate choices that could be avoided. It is difficult to live with the choices that we make in crisis. Many times a crisis situation does not give you the opportunity to discuss critical issues with your family before the crisis occurs. This book will give you the necessary tools to discuss your wants and wishes for the living of your years.
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