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What Dying People Want: Practical Wisdom for the End of Life Hardcover – July 2, 2002

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 352 pages
  • Publisher: PublicAffairs; 1 edition (July 2, 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1586481193
  • ISBN-13: 978-1586481193
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (19 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #344,605 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

The introduction in this wise book mentions something that author David Kuhl learned from his years of working with the terminally ill: "I didn't know how to talk to them about dying." In What Dying People Want, Kuhl shares his education on this topic by focusing on the daily experience of patients who are learning how to broach such discussions with their caregivers and families while coming to terms with their own mortality.

Heart-wrenching personal stories are intertwined with practical suggestions, and specific instances are frequently used to illustrate techniques, processes, and the importance of telling your story, rather than assuming your family already knows it. Kuhl focuses particularly on coming to terms with one's past. Discussions of family histories, lifelong priorities, and difficult choices are emphasized as tools for making peace among family members and with one's own conscience.

The daily life of pain management and support groups is also covered in detail, and Kuhl offers plenty of suggestions on how to begin that difficult conversation in which death is first acknowledged as a rapidly approaching fact. Written for patients and caregivers as well as friends and family, this useful guide will help everyone involved navigate the twists and turns of terminal illness. --Jill Lightner

From Library Journal

Drawing from case studies that he conducted as part of the Soros Foundation's "Death in America" project, Kuhl provides a balanced perspective on caring for the terminally ill. An M.D. himself, he acknowledges that doctors sometimes have poor interpersonal skills, and he offers helpful insight into why this is so and how patients can foster better communication. Besides discussing the physician's account of the clinical aspects of the dying process, Kuhl sensitively examines the harder-to-define psychological and spiritual issues. Unfortunately, he often focuses too much on certain patients whose stories are interesting but perhaps less applicable to the average person. Written for a general audience, this book will also fit well into medical libraries and other healthcare collections. Kuhl's research makes a good companion to Cynthia Pearson and Margaret L. Stubbs's Parting Company: Understanding the Loss of a Loved One. [The Soros Foundation, named after Hungarian American philanthropist George Soros, is a group of nonprofit organizations dedicated to creating and sustaining open societies around the world. Ed.] Annette Haines, Art & Design Field Lib., Anne Arbor, M.
- Annette Haines, Art & Design Field Lib., Anne Arbor, MI
Copyright 2002 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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Customer Reviews

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And, the book is an excellent guide for being with those who are dying.
I have also read Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, and find her work helpful, but unlike some of Dr. Kuhl's readers, I find his work more useful than hers.
Anne Wingate
This book has helped me consider my own end of life relationships and my interaction with those around me that are near death.
Larry bragg

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 37 people found the following review helpful By "lauriern" on March 19, 2003
Format: Hardcover
Dr. David Kuhl's book is the culmination of a ten year research study sponsored by the Project on Death in America. After receiving special training, he listened to the stories of people diagnosed with either cancer or AIDS. Even though his subjects, or "coresearchers" (his preferred term) were of varied marital, sexual, social, financial, familial and cultural backgrounds, their stories revealed common themes. Dr. Kuhl explains what each theme means to his coresearchers and translates their experiences into useful advice for terminally ill people, the people who love them and the health professionals caring for them.
Dr. Kuhl has written a quiet, thoughtful and moving book that is also quite practical. But be forewarned: it's not easy reading. For to acknowledge the dying experiences of others, we must confront our own mortality. Those who take the journey through to the end of the book may discover unexpected places in themselves more comfortably left hidden. But as Dr. Kuhl states, "Living and dying well involve enhancing one's sense of self, one's relationships with others, and one's understanding of the transcendent, the spiritual, the supernatural. And only in confronting the inevitability of death does one truly embrace life."
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22 of 22 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on January 7, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book has the ability to change the lives of any person. It is geared towards the terminally ill, however, due to my profession and my past personal experience with the terminally ill, I thought I might reach a better understanding of what one goes through and expects from us when dying but doesn't out right say. Page 18 changed the way I thought about dying. "If I am living the way I would like to be living then my death, if inevitable, shouldn't pose a fear within myself." It is an overall wonderful book that helps us see what we can do to help the person who is terminally ill and helps us prepare to make our lives more meaningful in the case that we are ever deamed that way ourselves. Some people say to become terminally ill was a gift to them, showed them things they'd never noticed before, however noone wants to die. This book is a gift!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Michael Blyth on October 13, 2005
Format: Paperback
As pointed out in a previous review, this is not a book with the most up-to-date research and theory on grief, loss, and dying. But then, if it were, it would lose its primary audience, ordinary people. If you have done a lot of work in this area then you may not find much new, though I think the book is still a refreshing read. But it is a book I could recommend for many patients and family members, as well as some caregivers who may not have had much education and experience with grieving people. As a physician, I doubt that the book is too "basic" for most colleagues who are not in high-mortality specialties.
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10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By Anne Wingate on October 9, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase

When I was diagnosed with congestive heart failure, I was somewhat more stunned than I had expected to be. I knew how many people in my mother's family had died from it, and only two months earlier I had asked my internist if she thought I was heading into heart failure. I knew I had several of the symptoms, and was concerned. She assured me that I did not have congestive heart failure, but I had an upcoming visit with my pulmonologist. When he referred me me to a cardiologist, the cardiologist did tests that were more specific than those the pulmonologist did, and told me that I was in the very early stages of diastolic heart failure. A look through the internet when I got home told me that diastolic heart failure eventually leads to overall congestive heart failure, which is fatal unless the patient dies of something else first. Only 50 % of those diagnosed with congestive heart failure, no matter how early it is caught, are alive ten years later. I spent the first week in shock, crying off and on, not because I am afraid of dying--I am not--but because I knew how my family would grieve, and I especially didn't want to die in front of the grandchildren.

I went to Kindle to see if I could find good books on dying, and latched onto this one. I found it agreed with my philosophy--do not lie to the patient, do not make the patient lie to you, let the patient die in dignity. I had written an impassioned conversation in my only (so far) fantasy novel, between two young men, one of whom saw his grandfather dying while being forced by those around him to pretend he thought he would recover. I wanted to know what I could reasonably expect from my loved ones, and how to bring it to their attention.
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18 of 22 people found the following review helpful By D. Becker on April 30, 2004
Format: Hardcover
This book explores the rational needs of the dying and is well written and easy to understand, in parts engaging though a bit lengthy.
Caregivers,friends,family of dying can gain some insight into the personal and social aspects of some of the issues the dying deal with including coping with pain, cargeivers, friends, family, and finding meaning. Nonetheless,it lacks thoroughness, is somewhat unsystematic and oversimplifies many aspects of dying.The author failed to borrow from many studies now available on hospice and palliative care not to mention social psychology and communication theory.The author seems to believe finding meaning for the dying is critical and achieveable. In this regard, I am reminded of William James belief about "healthy-mindedness"-an unrealistic optimism which is uncanny given the author is critical of how caregivers provide for the dying.
If you want a cursory, rational, unemotional beginners guide to what the dying deal with this is a decent choice but sedulous professionals or serious devotee need look elsewhere.
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