Thursday, October 17, 2019

Final Gifts Book Review

Read More Five-Star Reviews
Though it is not rare to encounter individuals who speak multiple languages with great fluency, it is less common to find someone who understands the unique language of the dying.  Too often the gifts that are offered up in the final days of a loved one's life are missed because of the symbolism that may be mistaken for confusion.

Hospice nurses, Maggie Callanan and Patricia Kelley, share with us, through moving personal stories, how individuals near the end of their lives communicate in often cryptic ways.  When we learn how to listen more closely, and through the filter of what has held meaning for that individual, we may enter into the grace and beauty of the Final Gifts they are offering us.

I can understand if you are sitting here wondering why anyone would want to read about death and dying.  It's not as depressing as you might imagine.  I've found it to be quite the opposite when you find compassionate authors who want to offer their readers the kinds of gifts that make it possible to be what a dying person needs them to be.

What Callanan and Kelley have learned over the years is that their patients enter a stage they call Nearing Death Awareness.  While in this critical phase, it is not unusual for people to know exactly when they will die.  We see from their stories that clues are being given to family members to help them get ready for an impending transition.

For instance, someone who always enjoyed traveling with her partner expressed the following: It's time to get in line.  This was the indication that she was soon to depart on her final journey.  One thing was holding her back, though.  She needed to know that the husband who had depended so greatly on her was going to be alright after she was gone. 

The patient who always celebrated his July 4th anniversary with a sparkler cake confused his family in June by saying it's time to get the cake.  He knew he was going to miss his anniversary, so he wanted everyone to celebrate early.  These pronouncements are important, but easily missed when chalked up to the stupor of pain medications, or the confusion of being deathly ill.

By becoming more aware of how the dying communicate their needs and desires, we can better support leave-taking on their terms.  By doing so, we are opening up the gifts they have lovingly chosen for us.  And, we are offering up the gift of honoring the wishes that help bring peace at the end of life.

ALSO HIGHLY RECOMMENDED:  Final Journeys














Note: The author may receive a commission from purchases made using links found in this article. “As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from qualifying purchases.”


FOLLOW US ON:

14 comments:

  1. Very interesting! I would imagine in most cases, whatever is uttered would be caulked up to delirium and ignored, especially if the individual with the patient is not a family member. It is awesome that these nurses have learned to listen so they can share those last bits of communication with the family (if they are not there) that would be best be able to interpret them.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Often, family members have been present, but did not understand what those messages meant. When the nurses delved deeper, and asked the family the right questions about the loved one's comments, it helped bring the dawning of understanding necessary to reduce the restlessness, or anxiety, the dying one was experiencing. I know the nurses were especially helpful for me when they shared what my father perhaps needed from me during the last few hours of his life. Often, the restlessness of the dying is due to the need to be given permission to leave. Their stress typically comes from not knowing if a loved one is going to be alright after they die. I learned how to communicate that I would miss him, but that it was okay to let go--that he had given me what I needed to carry on after his death. He couldn't communicate with words, but my dad was communicating with me in other physical ways (even though in an induced coma). So, there are many different messages we can receive with the support of those who understand both the verbal and the nonverbal languages of the dying.

      Delete
  2. I believe this is true, Diana. When my grandmother was dying, no one thought she would make it through Christmas. Yet she held on until January 21 and died on the exact day her husband had died 12 years earlier. I think she knew he was waiting for her and she had to wait until that day.

    My hubby had home Hospice his last 3 weeks and the staff who visited daily were a wonderful help to me and to my son. They gave me marvelous books to read afterwards. I can tell that this book and others like it that you are reading in preparation for your volunteer work with Hospice will be a big help to you.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you for sharing about your family's experiences. Those are momentous times and memories that truly remain current in the heart. One of the things I was taught in my first significant job as a young woman, working as a nurse's aide, was that patients often held on until Christmas, or an anniversary, or a birthday, or another important date. The first patient who died on my shift, someone I dearly loved, waited to pass on the same day her husband had passed away (the first anniversary of his death). The will, the heart, and the spirit is quite astonishing when it comes to the timing of death. I could often see when a patient had decided to move on from this life. Once that decision was made, even in an individual who appeared strong and well, things accelerated pretty quickly toward death. This control, or knowledge of when to go, is pretty amazing to consider. It seems there is an orchestration of one's own death that is within the realm of possibility.

      Delete
  3. There is so much about death that we don't know. I remember my dad in his last days, all of a sudden finding the strength to get out of bed in order to tell my mother he needed to get on that plane. I knew then and tried to tell her, that he was on his way "home". She didn't believe me until he passed a couple of days later.....yes there is lots we need to pay attention to in those times. Thanks for this great review. I hope lots of people see it and take it to heart, especially those who are looking after their elders.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. This is exactly the kind of story that would be featured in Final Gifts. You were very astute to recognize what your dad was really saying. Thank you for sharing this experience. It is my hope that this book will find its way into the right hands at the right time.

      Delete
  4. I hope that when it's my time to go that someone will understand things I might say. I feel that someone I love who has already passed, will welcome me to the other side. Maybe my Mom or my Dad. Maybe my only sister. Or heck, maybe even my ex-husband, since he called for me for days before he died. Our daughters were there with him in Indiana and when he kept calling for me, they flew me in. The day I got there and walked into his room, he raised up in bed and reached his hand toward me. He smiled a wondrous smile, his face lit up like there was a light shining from it, but there wasn't a real light anywhere near him. Then in a moment he fell back in the bed unconscious and died that day. My daughters felt he waited to die when I was there, because he wanted to know I'd forgiven him. I'd done that long before that day, and we'd become friends and he visited me at my sister's house every time I went home to Indiana. But perhaps having me come when he was dying comforted and reassured him somehow. So maybe because I was able to forgive, he will come for me. I wish I could come back and write about it. :) Is that morbid?? Nevertheless, it's the next great adventure in this journey called LIFE.

    ReplyDelete
  5. How beautiful that you provided what was needed for your Ex to feel deep peace at the end of his life on Earth. I can't imagine a greater gift. I do believe someone you dearly love will be there with you during your transition and that one day you will be the warm, welcoming guide. We are not alone in death and I believe in the afterlife. And no, I don't find your wish to be morbid. People benefit greatly from true accounts of the death and rebirth experience.

    ReplyDelete
  6. This sounds like a fascinating and thoughtful and insightful book. It is amazing the how the "cryptic" words, gestures become so clear - after. When in the proper reflective mood, I will bookmark this to read.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, that after insight can often be crystal clear. Perhaps while we are in the thick of it emotions and exhaustion cloud our thinking. Clarity does not always walk hand in hand with the one who is weighed down by anticipatory grief (grieving what is to come). It is very interesting to read about how a dying person may speak cryptically with family, but then talk plainly with a nurse who asks the true meaning of the symbolic language. I do find it fascinating.

      Delete
  7. This strikes such an emotional cord with me right now. It's been an unbelievable year of death and transition in our family. My heart is carrying a lot, and this book sounds like a peaceful choice. I'm watching myself lately, choosing my words carefully to make sure I'm not projecting my own exit. I understand though that those who are terminally ill are experiencing this from a tangible point of view. This year has been of year of unexpected passings and life, as it does, keeps us seeking answers. Thanks for the heads up on this book.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I do sense that you have carried a great deal this year (in your heart and soul). The more loss we experience, it seems the more we seek to make sense of it all. Over the past three years I have had to face my own mortality. That was a whole new flip side of watching other loved ones transition from this life. You don't expect to have to face that until later in life. I suppose that is a big part of why I am so interested in the books I have been reading about living the kind of life that can culminate in a good, peaceful death. My strong faith takes the fear out of dying. I hope my own experiences, along with the reading I am doing, will make it possible to be a source of sustanence for others. We are all in the process of dying. In some seasons of life, or on some days, that is more apparent than at other times. The more we can mindfully, and heartfully, consider what this means for us, the more fully we can live each moment of the time we have been given to make a difference here on Earth. My heart is with you as you feel so deeply what it is you are carrying within.

      Delete
  8. Oh, how I wish I had read this book years ago when my mother was dying! I realized only in retrospect that some of the things she said to me during her final days that sounded like hallucinations were her way of preparing me for her death and also letting me know that she welcomed the opportunity to be reunited with my late father. (She died of a broken heart.) "Final Gifts" sounds like the perfect gift for anyone who has a loved one in the final phase of her/his life.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I wish the same thing. Those nearing death often see things we cannot see and communicate things we are not prepared to understand. I plan to buy an extra copy of both of the books I reviewed by Maggie Callanan so I may share them when I know of someone who could benefit from these critical lessons. And yes, people do die of broken hearts. I've seen it. Thank you for sharing about your firsthand experience with the language of the dying. Very much appreciated.

      Delete



The Review This Contributors

Cynthia SylvestermouseCynthia SylvestermouseDawn Rae BDawn Rae BMary Beth - mbgphotoMary Beth - mbgphotoBrite-IdeasBrite-IdeasBev OwensBev OwensWednesday ElfWednesday ElfBarbRadBarbRadOlivia MorrisOlivia MorrisRenaissanceWoman2010Renaissance
Woman2010
Lou16Lou16The Savvy AgeThe Savvy AgeTreasures by BrendaTreasures by BrendaMargaret SchindelMargaret SchindelBuckHawkBuckHawkDecoratingforEventsDecorating
forEvents
Heather426Heather426Coletta TeskeColetta TeskeMissMerFaeryMissMerFaeryMickie_GMickie_G

 

Review This is Dedicated to the Memory of Our Beloved Friend and Fellow Contributor
We may be apart, but You Are Not Forgotten

Susan DeppnerSusan Deppner

“As an Amazon Associate I (we) earn from purchases.” Disclosure Statement

X