Accepting Death and Dying Well: Additional Resources: Background information when reading The Best Care Possible

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The Best Care Possible

A Physician's Quest to Transform Care Through the End of Life

by Ira Byock

The Best Care Possible by Ira Byock X
The Best Care Possible by Ira Byock
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  • First Published:
    Mar 2012, 336 pages
    Paperback:
    Mar 2013, 336 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Jo Perry

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Beyond the Book:
Accepting Death and Dying Well: Additional Resources

Print Review

One cannot finish Dr. Byock's book without resolving, as much as possible, to take responsibility for one's own death and to become deeply involved in the experiences and medical treatments of those we love who are dying.

His website, www.dyingwell.org, provides readers with additional information and helpful resources on the topic of dying, specifically on the emotional work required when saying our final farewells:

  • A generous list of articles and editorials gives readers information on topics ranging from dying with dignity, to the debate on assisted suicide, to problems with current healthcare.

  • In one of his books, The Four Things That Matter Most (2004), four phrases - "Please forgive me," "I forgive you," "Thank you," and "I love you" - are seen as "guides for doing the right thing, for reconciling the rifts that divide people, and for cutting through old history - because you just never know."

  • Byock also presents readers with paintings by Deidre Scherer and Cathy Weber, which inspire discussions of grief, death and dying as natural parts of life. Byock states, "By honoring the process of aging and dying, these figurative images lift the invisibility that surrounds this subject. This work starts a dialogue about death, and therefore about life, that is essential to our times."

  • Among other issues, in an interview with NPR Byock discusses the process of consulting patients on advanced directives. He says, "When I talk to people and encourage them to fill out these advanced directives, these days I don't start by saying, 'This is how you can protect yourself or retain control over your body.' I say, 'This is a way for you to take care of your family if a crisis happens and you're unable to speak for yourself, and they, those that you love, will be left to struggle with decisions about your treatment and care.'"

If you have trouble talking about mortality, watch the following Ted lecture in which Peter Saul, a Senior Intensive Care specialist in the adult and pediatric ICU at John Hunter Hospital, talks about you-know-what, and explains how we can't control if we'll die but we can choose to "occupy death."

Article by Jo Perry

This article was originally published in April 2012, and has been updated for the March 2013 paperback release. Click here to go to this issue.

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