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We will all deal with dying and death. Perhaps some of you reading this are caring for a loved one who is seriously ill, or maybe you have been given a terminal diagnosis. The shock, heartbreak, and grief can be devastating, but amazingly, there are also elements of deep meaning, inspiration, and beauty in knowing how to live fully right up to our last hour on Earth.
In Final Journeys, Maggie Callanan, a compassionate hospice nurse who has guided families for over twenty-five years, provides us with the insights she has learned from those in her care. The true teachers are those who are actually figuring out how to turn a dying experience into something peaceful and, in many cases, even celebratory.
Until recently, death hasn't been a topic of conversation that most people chose to address proactively. I know that my own family was not very prepared to deal with the critical decisions needing to be made at the time that my mother and father were in end-of-life comas and unable to express their desires. My siblings and I did what we had to do under the circumstances, but in many ways, the fabric of our family was torn irreparably in the process. Things could have been handled so much better had we known then what Callanan shares in this practical guide.
As the author provides us with poignant personal stories, we gain wisdom about what to expect, how to best communicate, when to get specific types of support, and how to navigate the physical, emotional, and spiritual challenges of dying well (and helping others do the same). Perhaps most importantly, in learning what we need to know about life's biggest transition, we are encouraged to reflect on what we most want in life and at our time of death.
I found Final Journeys to be much more than a useful guide to directing my future work in hospice service. For me, it has been a highly reflective journey that has positively touched the parts of me still processing the losses in my own life. It was an uplifting, and in many ways, healing read.
I only wish this book had existed when I first entered into nursing care as a young woman. Perhaps, though, I was more ready to receive its teachings now that I have experienced significantly more love and loss over the years. As a result of taking this journey with Maggie Callanan, I feel much better prepared to enter into new ways of bringing comfort to the living and the dying. I also feel ready to orchestrate my own beautiful transition when the time comes.
Also Highly Recommended: Final Gifts
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