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Dying Well

It also draws on interviews with nationally recognized experts in family medicine, palliative care, geriatrics, oncology, hospice, and other medical specialties. Inspired by the medieval death manual Ars Moriendi, or the Art of Dying , T he Art of Dying Well is the definitive update for our modern age, and illuminates the path to a better end of life. Her reasonable, down-to-earth tone makes for an effective preparatory guide.

It is a guide for staying as healthy and happy as possible while aging, and also shows how important it is to be medically informed and know our rights in the communities where we live, in order to stay in charge of our lives and therefore less afraid of the future. Katy Butler has written a very honest book. I just wish I had read it ten years ago. You can do it now!

On Dying Well

Katy Butler has clear eyes and speaks plainly about complicated decisions. This book is chock-full of good ideas. Armed with this superb book, you can take back control of how you live before you die. A crucial addition to the bookshelves of those seeking agency, comfort and meaning, The Art of Dying Well is not only about dying. A remarkable feat. Sherwin B.

It is riveting, and even with parents long gone, I found it very hard to put down. I am deeply grateful for its truth, wisdom, and gorgeous stories—some heartbreaking, some life-giving, some both at the same time. Butler is an amazing and generous writer. This book will change you, and, I hope, our society.


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Given our rapidly aging population, the timing of this tough and important book could not be better. Impeccably reported, Knocking on Heaven's Door grapples with how we need to protect our loved ones and ourselves. With candidness and reverence, Butler examines one of the most challenging questions a child may face: how to let a parent die with dignity and integrity.

Moral Distress in Medicine

Honest and compassionate From her own closely-examined personal experience, she fearlessly poses the difficult questions that sooner or later will face us all. It is not just about dying, it is about life, our political and medical system, and how to face and address the profound ethical and personal issues that we encounter as we care for those facing dying and death. A splendid and compassionate endeavor. With courage, unrelenting honesty, and deepest compassion, Sharing personal information brings people closer together.

Verified by Psychology Today. Spiritual Wisdom for Secular Times. If you had lung cancer, breast cancer, bowel cancer, cervical cancer, prostate cancer or any number of other types of cancer, unless it could be removed completely by a competent surgeon, you were probably going to die of it, usually fairly swiftly. Then, even deadlier secondary spread still remained a high risk. Euphemisms were employed instead.

These were the early days of the somewhat drastic and unrefined treatments of chemotherapy and radiotherapy, aimed at prolonging life, even if they brought additional distress and could not promise to effect a permanent cure.

Dying Well

The twin medical disciplines of oncology and palliative care soon came into being: the first aimed at better diagnosis and treatment of cancers; the second at better care for those with cancer, right through until death. Oncology focuses on the disease and attempts to delay progress or eradicate it.

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To palliate means to alleviate symptoms and provide relief from suffering. Mrs Saunders later Dame Cicely came to talk to a large group of us when I was at the university. What she said about healing people — helping them feel whole again — in contrast to simply concentrating on curing diseases, made so much sense to me at the time.

This idea has, over the intervening years, made sense to many other people too. It has become good practice to think of the psychological and social aspects of ill-health, as well as the plainly biological problem. Furthermore, Dr Monika Renz the head of this department has made the strongest of cases for spiritual assessment and care to be included as a necessary and rewarding aspect of dealing with the terminally ill.

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She describes how people pass through an inner threshold in consciousness, what happens before the threshold, crossing it and beyond it. Distress and fears seem to increase with approach to and crossing the threshold, before transforming into serenity and trust on leaving the inner threshold behind. All egoism and ego-centred perception what I wanted, thought, felt , and all ego-based needs faded into the background.


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Coming to the fore is another world, state of consciousness, sensitivity, and thus another way of being, relationship, connectedness, and dignity. The statistics in the book are interesting. It is as if a great weight has been taken off my shoulders. As if I only have to be Erich, now I am just that. Her particular interest and skill is music therapy, a form of music-assisted relaxation combined with active imagination.

She says that many patients withdraw into silence or become agitated, but they can still be reached in a semi-verbal or non-verbal way through decidedly simple and direct questions and instructions, once you can ascertain where they are in the process, how close they are to transition, before, during or after. I cannot do justice to this little book of seven short chapters here, but only recommend it to everyone involved, professionally or as family, with the dying. Understanding what happens psychologically and spiritually can be very helpful and comforting.

Dr Renz tells us that many dying patients have impressive spiritual experiences, whether they are religious from all religions or not.

The secret to dying well, according to St. Robert Bellarmine --Aleteia

Having weathered the humiliations of helplessness, decreasing mobility, pain, itching, thirst, nausea etcetera, feelings of being devoured, of falling or being completely lost, when treated with intelligence , dignity and kindness, they move forward towards a successful transition. This is the great argument against assisted suicide for the terminally ill, by the way. No dying person remains static. To put it poetically, Dr Renz, her co-workers and hospice staff everywhere act like spiritual midwives. We have come a long way in screening for and treating cancer.

We have moved far forward too in recognizing, understanding and catering for the psychological and spiritual needs of the dying, their relatives and loved ones.

Facing death is a tough school, but it teaches valuable lessons about wisdom , kindness, compassion and love. It teaches us better to look after ourselves and each other. But that is exactly the nature of spiritual experience, discovered so often through suffering, and caring for the suffering, rather than by trying to avoid it. Dying well not only means living and growing right to the end; it very often also means continuing to give something back. In looking back, this life I have lived was not worth the effort. Never again.