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Transitions: A Nurse's Education about Life and Death

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Transitions: A Nurse's Education about Life and Death is a collection of stories from Becki Hawkins's patients over the past thirty years of her career. She started off as a nurse's aide, became a registered nurse, and began her career in oncology. A couple of years later she also started seeing hospice patients. She also did outpatient oncology nursing, home health/hospice, became a hospice chaplain, and later a hospice volunteer. She now sees patients on a volunteer basis. She began writing a feature column, "Beyond Statistics," for a local newspaper when her husband told her one evening after her shift at work, "Please don't tell me about it. Write it down." The first article was published in 1986. These stories are the patients' stories and their education to Becki as she visited them about the transitions we make in life and in death. Some of them involve patients in the nursing home, others in the hospital or an outpatient setting, and many others in the patients' homes. Some of the patients were strangers, some were friends, some acquaintances, and some were family. You will find humor, heartbreak, wisdom, and frequent spiritual allusions in Transitions. The author reminds us that life is brief and fragile, and laced with story after story of how each of us is "learning" in this place that one patient named "Earth School."

238 pages, Paperback

First published December 1, 2011

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Becki Hawkins

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5 stars
38 (59%)
4 stars
13 (20%)
3 stars
6 (9%)
2 stars
2 (3%)
1 star
5 (7%)
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews
Profile Image for Daniel.
3 reviews53 followers
April 12, 2013
This book is truly excellent. Becki Hawkins has an incredible way with words. Her writing style is so comfortable and genuine that you quickly feel like she is a dear friend. The stories are told in a journalistic style, as an observer relating the experience as directly as possible. Each story is only 2 or 3 pages long, yet the reader can envision the entire life story that accompanies of these heartfelt glimpses of lives in transition.

The book is separated into 3 sections. The first is called the Early Years. It covers Becki's initial acclimation to the world of nursing and her many challenges and lessons learned. The second section is called Hospice Gifts. These stories are so incredibly beautiful. With an absolute minimum of words, Becki conveys a wealth of depth. The third section is called Family where she writes about transition experiences with family members.

Becki's caring shines through in every story, often simply in the words she choses and the loving way she tells each story. This is a truly amazingly wonderful book.

I can be a picky S.O.B. And I believe it's better to tell the truth than to sugar coat it. You'll have to trust me on that. But when I give high praise, it means something.

A close relative of mine is experiencing a real tough patch right now. They just entered hospice care. I don't think I need any extra help dealing with it, but I can tell you this book has made a very positive difference for me in many ways.

Another reviewer gave this book 1 star and couldn't finish it because she felt it was syrupy and overly religious in tone. I strongly disagree. Becki Hawkins shows respect for all approaches to death, both religious and non-religious. If you feel compassionate caring is syrupy, you may not like this book either. If you can't stand to hear a few words as a person expresses their religious views when they are nearing death's door, you may not like this book either. But if you appreciate excellent writing and heartfelt stories told in a natural and loving style that makes each one as comforting as a warm mother's hug, this is your book. And be prepared to shed a few tears along the way.
Profile Image for Mary Ellen.
29 reviews
July 22, 2013
Wish I could have given this book more stars but I was turned off by the syrupy Christian inferences to each story. I was intrigued by the Erie up and was anticipating a spiritual connection but it was too heavy on western Christianity. I could not finish it.
1 review1 follower
April 5, 2013
From the first paragraph, I was captured. It was so refreshing to read a book that brought death "full circle". The way Mrs. Hawkins told the patients stories was like sitting right there with her listening to them. I think my favorite thing about the book is the way the stories are told. There is so much to learn from someone who knows they are getting ready to take their last breath. This book opens those thoughts up to us to visit and think about. I am very much anticipating the future writings of Mrs. Hawkins.
12 reviews1 follower
October 26, 2016
Simply beautiful

I came upon this book by watching becki on YouTube . I was a hospice care giver for many years and experienced many wonderful experiences, through my patients eyes. Every one is different, but it helped me again recently to prepare a family member. When their loved one had that last burst of feeling great. I call it nesting or preparing so they have a little more Time with those they love. Thank you for such a wonderful book Becki.
Profile Image for Adrienne.
90 reviews2 followers
November 17, 2015

Those that fear death, read this book. Those that have a loved one dying, read this book. Those that have lost a loved one but have yet to find closure, read this book. This book should be available to every hospice patient and family.
323 reviews
May 24, 2018
I have had the privilege of hearing the author speak at funeral services. Her words always touched by heart and inspired me, so when I heard she had written a book, I wanted to read it! Her sincerity, compassion and beautiful way of expressing herself is reflected in every page of this book.
The book is a written reflection of Ms. Hawkins heart and love for others and desire to care for those passing from this world into eternity. Her patients were so blessed to have her! Hospice nurses go beyond just physical care as they know there will be no healing for their patients. The family knows their loved one is going to be taken from them. I was moved by how Ms. Hawkins simultaneously gave concern and help not only for the dying but also for the family members.
In this book she shares short stories of different patients throughout her career. All are very personal and moving. The detail in which the author shows her empathy and depth of caring was very inspirational for me. There is humor as well as grief. Each one is a testimony that Becky has a special gift that comes from a deep faith in God that she brings into the lives of those she serves.
My husband died 5 years ago and I found this book very comforting. While it does deal with sadness and grief, it is filled with hope! Becky gave the greatest medicine a nurse can give to a patient: a part of herself. A unique and inspiring book, one everyone will want to read!
Profile Image for Bri Lindhart.
3 reviews
July 3, 2020
This book is very well written, by someone who deeply cares about her patients and her family. Great reading for everyone, especially if you or a family member is about to transition. This book helped ease my death anxiety and made me feel connected to the author and each of her patients. Love pours out of every page. There are a lot of Christian references, but it did not seem preachy and came off as more spiritual than religious. I will definitely come back to this book many times as I deal with death throughout my life. Many thanks to Becki for sharing her story. I found her through youtube and when she speaks she makes it seem as if you are the most important person in the world. I would love to have a hospice nurse like her when my time comes.
Profile Image for Paul Jellinek.
517 reviews15 followers
April 28, 2019
Most of the book is a series of brief accounts of the author's encounters with terminal patients in rural Oklahoma who were approaching the end of their lives. While some of the accounts are moving, after a while they all start to sound alike, and because the accounts are so brief, there isn't much depth to them. All of that changes abruptly in the last section of the book, simply titled "Family," in which she describes the days leading up to the death of her mother and her younger brother. These two accounts--especially the one about her brother--go into far greater depth and reveal the real anguish and despair that seem to be missing from most of the earlier accounts.
Profile Image for Julie Saeger Nierenberg.
Author 20 books12 followers
April 5, 2020
Becki Hawkins's insightful and true-life vignettes are a treasure. Each one has important life lessons for any reader. I can imagine nursing students and novices using this book for inspiration, especially those who might consider work in a hospice or palliative care setting. While I enjoyed savouring each chapter, my favourite was her last, appropriately titled "My Brother's Keeper," an intimate glimpse into the author's brother's end of life. Becki's writing style had me feeling like we're in the same room, and she's telling me about noteworthy happenings in her work. It is indeed an education, and a very uplifting one.
~ Julie Saeger Nierenberg, Author and Educator
130 reviews3 followers
January 12, 2020
Krista Tippett writes, "I can disagree with your opinion, it turns out, but I can’t disagree with your experience." Becki has vulnerably shared her experiences with sick and dying patients, and in an intimate way even shared the story of her younger brother's dying and death. I appreciated that story most of all because in it she is not writing as a nurse, but a sister who loved him to his dying breath.
Profile Image for Jay Rombach.
1 review1 follower
June 9, 2017
Very touching and helpful

Such a warm, personal writing style as Becky tells the many touching stories of her patients as a hospice nurse. So many valuable and memorable lessons learned and shared. I recommend this book highly for anyone wanting to understand how do truly live from stories of dying and true love.
4 reviews
March 29, 2018
Good info.

I loved Becki's video on you tube. It was as so lovely, and lively. I found the stories fascinating, in their similarities, and sweet in the southern dialect. Though the book had a few more stories and reflection, I really fell in love with Becki on that video
Profile Image for Karen.
12 reviews
August 10, 2018
Very disappointed. I saw her speak on You Tube and bought the book as I am interested in near death experiences. I finished about 20% before I deleted from my Kindle as it was not what I expected. I was turned off by her syrupy Christian style.
26 reviews
November 11, 2021
A must read!

A wonderful insight into the world of the dying and those who care about, and for them. It is a journey we will all make…
Displaying 1 - 15 of 15 reviews

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