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

4.34 of 5 stars 4.34  ·  rating details  ·  534 ratings  ·  75 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
Shari Larsen
The author of this book, Dr. Ira Byock, has dedicated his life as a hospice director to make sure that no one should have to die in pain, or die alone. He is prominent spokesperson for the hospice movement. In this book, he shares the true stories of dying patients, and how important emotional work can be accomplished in the final months, weeks, and even days of life.

Through the stories of the patients, families and those that are dying that can learn to deal with doctors, how to talk to friends
Recommended by Tom Mahan and Susan Peterson, this is a wonderful book! I have a phrase that I've always used to admonish myself in making decisions: "Live your life in such a way..." That thought helps me for the short run and the long run. The message of this book reinforces that way of thinking.

Dr. Byock details so many ways of dying, and I was so pleased when he recommended Final Gifts since it's been a very important book for Jim and me. The important point is to live one's life in such a wa
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
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
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 well for those who are not.
I think this is an excellent book for pretty much everyone, since we will all die, and many of us will accompany a family member or friend in their final months/days/hours. Physicians in particular could find this book helpful and informative . . . or at least they should! It uses a medical "case report" format, with presentation of several stories of people, family, and friends on the final journey, involving the Hospice care organization in Missoula, Montana. There are discussions of each "cas ...more
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
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
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
Dr Byock helped start the hospice movement. He described patients that he treated, how he adapted care according to their needs and the needs of the family, and how he learned from each patient. He eased fears, pain, physical care of the patient and he helped all involved to come to terms with death of the patient, I can't describe it well - just read the book. When I die, I'd love to have a doctor like him give my family and me emotional and medical support.
As a nurse who works in the oncology field, I hoped this book would help illuminate some of the struggles of those I was treating, and at times it certainly did. But death is an extremely personal and individual experience, and after reading the first few chapters it became obvious that the stories Byock relates would have only limited application to other experiences.

This book does a good job evangelizing hospice. Certainly, Byock continues to do good work, and it's important for readers and th
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.
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.
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.
Elizabeth Mahas
A friend gave me this book about a month before my husband's mother passed away from cancer. According to this author's definition of dying well, her passing fit his best examples. I found all the stories interesting, but sometimes too close to home, and I would have to put the book down for a few days. I would wholeheartedly recommend this book to anyone wondering about hospice and helping a loved one die well.
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.
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.
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
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?
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.
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
Dr Byock spoke to my heart in this well-written on the importance of facing death with honesty and dying with dignity. It was a difficult book to finish because it tugged on my emotions, especially as I've begun hospice patient volunteer work. 'Work'. That is completely the wrong word for the privilege of spending time with someone at arguably the most meaningful point of their life. I am grateful to Dr Byock for bringing hospice to the forefront over the past twenty years so that now, Dying Wel ...more
Good things to be thinking about ahead of time. The five things are very worth the ponder.
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
A beautiful, empowering book. Thank you Ira. A gift.
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.
Raqueeba Hassan
An emotional and informative novel on hospice care and honestly one of the best books I've ever read. Dr. Ira Byock gives a detailed account of various end of life stories and events that will stick with you. As a healthcare professional, I'm faced with death on a daily basis and Dr. Byock did an excellent job of discussing some of the issues I deal with and how to approach them. Despite your background, this book is worth the read.
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