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Home » Books » Health & Wellbeing » Family & Relationships » Death, Grief, Bereavement

A Hospital Bed at Home

Family Stories of Caregiving from Diagnosis to Death

By Janene Carey

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Format: Paperback, 254 pages
Published In: United States, 01 April 2014
A Hospital Bed at Home is a linked collection of true stories about the experience of being a carer during the weeks, months and years that can stretch between the day someone you love is diagnosed with an incurable, fatal disease and the day of his or her death. Couples facing separation after forty years together; a workaholic with three small children and a dying, angry wife; an Irish immigrant called home to nurse an ailing father who cannot, or will not, eat; a Buddhist couple striving for serene acceptance of a brain tumour... The patients and carers profiled in these stories bring to their challenging situations the gamut of typically human strengths and weaknesses, plus all the baggage of their pre-existing relationships. The narratives are intensely personal and biographical, but the insights and information they contain about illness, caregiving and dying at home have profound and general relevance. The author's reflections on these topics are woven throughout, linking the individual stories and concluding with a gritty memoir about caring for her own mother, an anxious optimist who was ravaged by cancer.

About the Author

Janene Carey is a freelance writer, editor and academic. Previously, she was employed as a journalist, sub-editor and acting editor with her local newspaper, The Armidale Express. She has a PhD in writing, and her work has been published in national newspapers, magazines and literary journals, including The Sydney Morning Herald, The Sun-Herald, OUTBACK magazine, Australian Book Review, TEXT and Perilous Adventures. Her website is

EAN: 9780992423605
ISBN: 0992423600
Publisher: Tablelands Press
Dimensions: 21.59 x 14 x 1.35 centimetres (0.39 kg)
Age Range: 15+ years
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2 review(s)
All Reviews
Anonymous on
This book sat on my bedside table for weeks after I’d bought it – somehow I kept putting it off and choosing less confronting, friendlier options for my bedtime reading. I eventually started and then finished it in one hugely satisfying sitting today and remembered why I’d bought it in the first place - because I knew what a sharp and lovely writer Janene Carey is and how rich and nuanced her perceptions are. This was a beautiful book to read – and a privilege to share such personal true stories of people’s lives and deaths; tricky territory communicated with dextrous and sensitive honesty. The book travels from family to family, deftly revealing their histories, their idiosyncrasies and the messy contradictions of human relationships. The voices of the carers emerge clearly and distinctively, and their personalities give this book about death such life and spirit. As with all good books, this one changed me just a little; somehow I feel a tiny bit wiser having read it.
Ruby Roberts on
I can't remember a book that has had such a strong emotional impact on me. Maybe it is knowing the author, or having a sick dad myself, but I was floored by this book. I finished it a few days ago, but it has taken me that long to figure out what I want to write about it. Carey has written about a subject that needs to be talked about. Caring for loved ones to their deaths is a task just about all of us will face one day, but nobody talks about it. It's not easy to know what to say, really.

The book begins with several different accounts of caring for dying relatives. Carey has found a really eclectic group of people to explore the a range of experiences of nursing loved ones to death. While in some ways, there are universal threads running through their stories, Carey also highlights the incredible diversity of experiences and emotions people have when they support a loved one to die at home. Her sensitive re-telling of their sacred stories also highlights the enormous impact death has on family dynamics in the lead-up to death and beyond. She explores the impact of impending death on a mother with young children. I was particularly moved by an account of death by a Buddhist family, who saw the whole process as a spiritual practice that was enriching as well as harrowing.

Carey writes about the extreme stress, love and emotional upheaval caring for her mother until death, and the result is raw and confronting. She does a great job of describing the extremes of exhaustion and the mess of emotions when her mother was dying. She also explores the impact it had on her whole family, the guilty juggle of caring for children and attending to the rest of the family while supporting her mother. The ongoing impact on family dynamics is probably not something people tend to think about until it actually occurs.

This is a subject that needs to be written about, but it takes a writer of great courage and skill to tackle it. Carey is blessed with both courage and skill as a writer and she has written an amazing book. I will be recommending it to anyone facing a death in the family, as a source of solidarity, understanding and support. A very special and valuable resource for those of us who are facing this difficult universal milestone. Books like these are not only valuable, they are well overdue. In a world that can be saturated with information, this book is outstanding and I will not soon forget it.

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