First Publish Date: January 1st 1992
“Every man must do two things alone; he must do his own believing and his own dying.” — Martin Luther
Hospice nurses Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley share their intimate experiences with patients at the end of life, drawn from more than twenty years experience tending the terminally ill.
Filled with personal stories and practical advice on responding to the requests of the dying and helping them prepare emotionally and spiritually for death, Final Gifts shows how we can help the dying person live fully to the very end.
“Life is eternal; and love is immortal; and death is only a horizon; and a horizon is nothing save the limit of our sight.” — Rossiter Worthington Raymond
My father-in-law has Stage 4 bile duct cancer that spread to his lungs, liver, and spleen. He was diagnosed in late May 2018. At first, he had no symptoms. Then a month later, he lost his appetite. He became weaker and skinnier until he could no longer walk, go upstairs, or go to the bathroom independently. He’s confined to a bed and he is not happy. It’s been heartbreaking to see his illness progress so quickly, and we are now faced with the reality that he will eventually pass away.
In times of crisis I tend to seek self-help books as a form of therapy and to help me understand what I’m going through. I stumbled upon a Web mention of Final Gifts, and looked it up on Goodreads. It has a very high rating and wonderful reviews, so I immediately sought it out at the library. It’s short, and I read it in 2 days.
This book is very helpful for families of the terminally ill. It describes what the sick person is going through, and many common feelings and experiences for families and friends. It has clear examples with stories shared by hospice nurses, who are very special people. It describes what a terminally ill person might be thinking and feeling, and what to expect in the last days of a person’s life. There are many reality based personal stories and I related to several of them. The book is also neutral on religion so it will appeal to many audiences.
The book does not address sudden passings or deaths that are not peaceful; you might want to seek out other books that address these situations.
Dying is a difficult topic to read, but this book handles the subject with respect, grace, and care. It’s a good book to read before someone’s final days. It builds an awareness for me to pay attention to my father-in-law’s words and watch the signs carefully. It has an uplifting and hopeful tone and it gave me solace about my father-in-law. I wish I had this book when my own father passed away 14 years ago.
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Afterword: My father-in-law passed away on August 27, 2018, 12 weeks after his diagnosis. He chose not to pursue treatment, but instead accepted his illness and entered into hospice. His passing happened very quickly, peacefully, without pain, and on his own terms. It went exactly how he wanted it to be. I dedicate this post to him, and we miss him very much.