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The Inner Life of the Dying Person (End-of-Life Care

This unique book recounts the experience of facing one's death solely from the dying person's point of view rather than from the perspective of caregivers, survivors, or rescuers. Such unmediated access challenges assumptions about the emotional and spiritual dimensions of dying, showing readers that-along with suffering, loss, anger, sadness, and fear-we can also feel courage, love, hope, reminiscence, transcendence, transformation, and even happiness as we die. A work that is at once psychological, sociological, and philosophical, this book brings together testimonies of those dying from terminal illness, old age, sudden injury or trauma, acts of war, and the consequences of natural disasters and terrorism. It also includes statements from individuals who are on death row, in death camps, or planning suicide. Each form of dying addressed highlights an important set of emotions and narratives that often eclipses stereotypical renderings of dying and reflects the numerous contexts in which this journey can occur outside of hospitals, nursing homes, and hospices. Chapters focus on common emotional themes linked to dying, expanding and challenging them through first-person accounts and analyses of relevant academic and clinical literature in psycho-oncology, palliative care, gerontology, military history, anthropology, sociology, cultural and religious studies, poetry, and fiction. The result is an all-encompassing investigation into an experience that will eventually include us all and is more surprising and profound than anyone can imagine.
Product Details

Table of Contents

Preface Acknowledgments 1. In the Beginning ... 2. Suffering-Enduring the New Reality 3. Fear-a Threat Observed 4. Courage-Facing the Overwhelming 5. Resistance-Facing the Choices 6. Sadness and Anger-Facing Loss 7. Hope and Love-Connection 8. Waiting-In-between-ness 9. Review and Reminiscence-Remembering 10. Aloneness-Disconnection 11. Transformation-Change, Change, Change 12. Some Final Reflections Notes Bibliography Index

Promotional Information

The Inner Life of the Person Dying recounts the experience of facing one's death solely from the dying person's perspective, showing that-along with suffering, loss, anger, sadness, and fear-we can also feel courage, love, hope, transcendence, transformation, and even happiness as we die.

About the Author

Allan Kellehear is professor of community health at Middlesex University in London. His most recent books on dying include A Social History of Dying and The Study of Dying: From Autonomy to Transformation, an edited volume of essays.


The Inner Life of the Dying Person should be required reading for all those who work with or teach about the dying process. Kellehear sensitively and insightfully explores the multiplicity of reactions and emotions that individuals may experience at life's end. This book breaks new ground and is a major contribution to the field. -- Ken Doka, The Hospice Foundation of America This book provides us with a fascinating interdisciplinary insight into the way in which dying is experienced. Rather than focusing on institutional dying, Kellehear draws from the personal accounts of people who are dying from illnesses such ascancer and dementia, as well those facing execution in prison contemplating suicide, or suffering from the aftereffects of an accident. His project also takes him into the world of literature, poetry, autobiography, and internet blogs, where he sympathetically reviews people's experiences of suffering, fear, courage, sadness, anger, hope, love, reminiscence, aloneness, and transformation. This is an exceptional text that sensitively draws the reader into the inner lives of dying people. It is not only groundbreaking but heartfelt and, perhaps strange to say, incredibly uplifting. I would like to have this book beside me as I near my own end of life. -- Glennys Howarth, Plymouth University This book presents a viewpoint that has been largely unexplored. In felicitous prose, Allan Kellehear shows us that the experience of dying, viewed holistically, is life-embracing and life-affirming-a life-building, even transformative, process. Anyone who is concerned with care of the dying will benefit from becoming acquainted with The Inner Life of the Dying Person. -- Lynne Ann DeSpelder and Albert Lee Strickland, authors of The Last Dance: Encountering Death and Dying This book gives an excellent overview to healthcare providers who are preparing to work with terminal illness in hospitals and other palliative care settings. It is also a fascinating read for general audiences. Since all of us are going to die, knowing what we might face and how other people find meaning and maintain morale through the experience can give us a glimpse into what might lie ahead. I highly recommend this book. -- J. William Worden, Harvard Medical School The Inner Life of the Person Dying offers general readers a sketch of something less than they feared and something more complex, surprising, and wondrous than they might have first imagined, introducing readers to the most common personal elements of the journey of dying. Sir Read a Lot I can recommend this book to anyone who works in palliative care. It is well written and the discussion is well presented. IAHPC Kellehear...provides much needed insight into the world of the dying from their perspective instead of reports by healthcare professionals and other clinical observers... this book has brought us a major step forward in understanding the life of the dying person. PsycCRITIQUES This fresh look at the lived experience of dying will most definitely cause readers to challenge their preconceptions of the death journey. CHOICE I hope this innovative, thought-provoking, and at times brilliant work of public sociology will be read not only be end-of-life care professionals..., but by anyone curious about what their own end, and the ends of those they love, might be like. Sociology of Health and Illness An excellent index of sources and explanation of diverse ideas and death perspectives. Somatic Psycotherapy Today I recommend this book to anyone who has an interest in humanity as well as those with a particular interest in all things end of life. Mortality Journal

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