Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life
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Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life

4.31 of 5 stars 4.31  ·  rating details  ·  331 ratings  ·  63 reviews
Nobody should have to die in pain. Nobody should have to die alone. This is Ira Byock's dream, and he is dedicating his life to making it come true. "Dying Well" brings readers to the homes and bedsides of families with whom Dr. Byock has worked, telling stories of love and reconciliation in the face of tragedy, pain, and conflict National media publicity. Author lecture t...more
ebook, 320 pages
Published March 1st 1998 by Riverhead Books (first published January 13th 1997)
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Nick Arkesteyn
Many people, myself included, today don't really believe that we will die. Death is something that happens to other people somewhere else that appears as if it can be avoided. This aversion to death, an event that is basic to all life and is completely natural, amplifies our everyday fears and may cause us to shun people with illnesses and create innocent pariahs when they need us the most.

This book will give you the experience of dying many deaths and what it is like to face different situation...more
Eric Chappell
An incredibly beautiful and moving book. Ira Byock narrates the end-of-life stories of several patients in his hospice-program. His goal is to document the human capacity to experience meaning, value, transformation, even joy within the process of illness and dying. The life of an individual facing terminal illness and imminent termination of life can play a profound part in both the life of the person and their community. Byock is a wonderfully gifted writer who interweaves not only the medical...more
Sue
My sister has a terminal illness and I needed some help to understand what she's going through and how I can help her. This book written by a hospice physician uses case studies to illustrate that no matter what the disease, personality, age, or spiritual orientation, all human beings need to die with dignity and love. How that is accomplished is unique to each person, but there are common principles that should help anyone who is trying to assist their loved one travel from this life to the nex...more
Bobby
Since death and dying is a professional (and not being immortal, I guess personal too) interest of mine, I've read a fair amount about it. This is one of the most moving and thoughtful books about this subject I''ve come across. The humanity of Dr. Byock (a hospice and palliative care specialist) and his patients vividly comes across in the stories he's written. Whole heartedly recommended for those planning to die someday...as well for those who are not.
Sarah
This book has been difficult to read, because facing death is difficult. The manner of our dying is as unique as the manner of our living, and having a choice in the way we spend our final days is important. This book gives a glimpse into the life of hospice physician, Dr. Ira Byock. In it, he shares the stories of patients (including his own father) and families who are "exploring the inherently human experience of dying."

This is a GREAT read for those who are themselves dying, for people who...more
Joann
Apr 21, 2012 Joann rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Joann by: NPR interview with author
It is interesting to juxtapose this book with the recently released "Twelve Breaths a Minute." (Lee Gutkind, ed.) Both are aimed at discussing end of life issues, the choices that we face with available advanced medical technologies and the ways in which we/society approach and come to terms with dying.

Gutkind's book contains essays written by 24 different people - giving individual perspectives. In Byock's book, he is the principal narrator, recounting the stories of a number of patients in hi...more
Michael Connolly
The author, Ira Byock, is a doctor in Montana specializing in helping dying patients. His goal is not to keep the patient alive as long as possible. His goals are: (a) to relieve pain, (b) to bring to patient closer to his family, (c) to resolve conflicts within the family, and (d) cleaning up loose ends. The terms palliative care and hospice care both refer to this kind of medical care. The term palliative care is more general and includes taking care of people with long term diabilities that a...more
Shel
From the concluding chapter: "The stories in this book document the human capacity to experience meaning and value within the process of illness and dying." True.

Byock's dream: "Collectively, as communities, we must take back our responsibility for the care of our dying members." The experiences he shares as a medical professional with hospice care make a strong case for his humanitarian view and further his goal of moving society, "...toward an understanding of dying as a part of full, even hea...more
Leigh
As you might expect, a book written by a doctor is going to be somewhat drier than a book written by a nurse (e.g. Final Gifts) and the perspective is different. Like other titles in this genre, it's full of anecdotes of actual patients but the stories just aren't quite as moving and the point he tries to make with each story is somewhat wordy and bloated.
PJ
Using case studies, the author discusses the importance of end-of-life nurturing and the possibilities of growth for both the dying and the caring. It is a good introduction to hospice care, when done right. The multiple discussions of families' perceptions of starvation has made me revisit my own advanced health care directives.
Ken
This book was recommended by a friend, and was so much more than I had expected. The individual stories were beautifully written by the author, and not at all maudlin. Having been in some of these situations several times, I wish I had read this book years ago. I do not hesitate to recommend the book to anyone.
Jt O'Neill
This was a hard book to read at times. The stories and poignant and well sketched and provide plenty of lessons. Death is an interesting teacher and Dr. Byock shows us how to be good students. I read a library copy but it makes me want a copy of this around for future use.
Libraryscat
There are many ways that death comes to us. This book explores a number of patients and their attitudes, and their families', as they are dying. A number of good insights. I wish I had read it a few years ago.
Mallory
Written by a hospice doctor who has dedicated much of his life to palliative care, this book recounts about 10 end-of-life stories of Dr. Byock's patients. It is a valuable read for any person and provides insight into hospice care, and more particularly hospice care done right. The stories here not only reveal the palliative team's way of handling the medical aspects of these patients, but, more importantly their spiritual well-being, or their well-being within as they complete their life's sto...more
Cynthia Edge
Read this book for my intro to hospice class. It is a great book that offers up the true stories of individuals who were in the author's care as a hospice doctor and shows how a good death is possible.

This book offers insight into how our culture/society needs to change in order to facilitate these good deaths in greater numbers. As it stands, America hates the idea of death and the medical community is very focused on trying to fix illnesses that just can't be fixed, when palliative care--incr...more
Michelle Bodle
How do we care for our loved ones who are dying in a way that shows dignity and grace, especially in a culture that wants to make death clinical?
Nancy
At the end of a life, there is no overtime. This book is written by a wise, experienced, and kind man. You will find this helpful.
Linda
I am not quite finished with this book yet but I highly recommend it to anyone who is experiencing the death of a loved one. Byock is a great storyteller and the stories are touching and moving without being overly sappy. They have given me a sense of peace about my brother in law's impending death from kidney cancer. I read a few chapters each night and always end up bawling-- and a fair amount of tears are for the people featured in the book. This book is a really great reminder that we contin...more
sylas
This book offers a fairly frank picture of death on hospice. While lacking in nuance in some ways, Byock does a decent job of story telling through these several vignettes. I appreciated some of the questions Byock chose to ask people who were dying, including: what would make the rest of your life the best it could be? And, what would be left undone if you suddenly became more ill? Byock's well-honed gentle prodding and validation make for easy-to-use tools for other practitioners in this field...more
Barb Graf
Read this book when we lived in Illinois/ probably late 1990's. Actually got a signed copy of the book at a conference of the author. What a very gifted and wonderful resource for hospice nurses/staff and truly the author is a great mentor and groundbreaker in the hospice world with such emphasis on rights and needs of the patient and family. I really appreciate this book as well as the many wonderful people I have learned from in my work as a hospice nurse.
linnea
This book is a series of stories from working in a hospice organization, about the ways in which people who have enough time to know it's coming choose to die.

It is an incredibly moving book that everyone should read, because dying does come to all of us and to our loved ones. The book makes the case that no one should have to die alone and no one should have to die in pain, and there are ways to make sure of that.
Liesl
A collection of moving stories, written by a hospice physician, to show the many ways that people define "Dying Well". I found this book particularly moving given my role in healthcare. Whether someone you know is facing a life-threatening illness, or you are just looking to contemplate life in the bigger picture, this book will inspire you to live life to the fullest, and embrace hope wherever it is found.
Tiangcot
Fantastic book written by a Hospice MD containing stories of different patients and their personal experiences with dying. He gives excellent insight and reflections on end of life issues. The physical process of dying is described well and helped me gain a better understanding of what terminally ill people might be feeling at different stages of the process. Have kleenex when reading.
Ann
Aspirational but assumes that the dying person is still lucid. Generally helpful tho and written in a very comforting manner.
Rae
This was semi-helpful to dip into while my mother was approaching her death. I say only "semi-helpful" because I quickly realized that death is an extremely individual process. While there are numerous commonalities, the way death ultimately plays out is almost completely up to the individual. Therefore, this book could only really give sensible guidelines and counsel. Which it did.
Brooke
Dying Well is a book everyone could benefit from reading - ill or not. It is a book as much about living as dying. It is about relationships, priorities, and finding inner peace. It is also about empathy and love and understanding. I highly recommend this book to those who are dying, those who support a dying person, and those who simply want a better, more focused life.
kristina
This book is incredibly beautiful and poetic. Dr. Byock shows his respect and compassion for the inherit worth and dignity of each patient, the patient's friends and family. His belief in the incomparable value and meaning of each human life is evident as he guides the reader to understand what it means to "die well."
Lisa
I read this book twice....I first picked it up when my grandmother was dying and it really helped me appreciate the Hospice profession. The second time I read it was for class so I was able to look at it from another angle. I highly recommend it for anyone going through or recently experienced a death of a loved one.
Kelli
Perfect for the Hospice group. 9 stories of the end of people's lives and how beauty can come from the process. During the next year at Hospice, I am honored to know that I can learn how to live my live in a more enlightened way by really listening to those who have gone before me. To them, I am grateful.
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