Book review: TERMINAL ILLNESS - Caring for yourself and others

  • Denis Blackledge SJ

Written by three West Country professionals, this booklet deals with terminal illness, firstly giving a clear definition of what it is. Strictly speaking, it is an illness that cannot be cured and that may shorten life expectancy. But more commonly it is referred to as a life-limiting condition.

Apart from cancer, it may include chronic diseases affecting major organs such as heart, lungs, kidney or brain. Whatever the situation, receiving a diagnosis of such a condition can be overwhelming, devastating and very frightening. For some it may be unexpected, for others it may be a relief to know.

This booklet provides clear and simple practical guidelines to enable individuals involved to hope and cope with greater serenity. It includes ongoing care at various levels, allaying fear and distress when the prospect of palliative or end of life care comes onto the horizon.

It helpfully gives the two kinds of LPA - lasting power of attorney. The first covers property and financial affairs. The second, and more important, allows the person nominated to make decisions about health and welfare. It speaks about nutrition and hydration at the end of life, and gives simple indications of what the actual dying process will be like. Various personal stories are dotted throughout the publication. And it speaks of individuals as "spiritual beings on a human journey"; and talks of grief "as the price for love". It ends with a variety of prayers and resources.

Perhaps a couple of additions might have been given. A suggested list of items on an LPA, for example; and, for those with religious faith, suggestions for scripture readings, hymns, and other preferences for the funeral service.

This booklet will be a welcome boon to all who are facing terminal illness, either as patient or as a carer or loved one.

TERMINAL ILLNESS - Caring for yourself and others

By Dr Elizabeth Toy, Dr Catherine O'Neill and Dr Sarah Jackson
Redemptorist Publications, 53 pages, 2018, £4.95

Tags: Terminal illness, Denis Blackledge

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