Hardcover, 299 pages
Published by Riverhead Books
Publication date: February 1, 1997
As director of a hospice in his own home town of Missoula, Montana, he has sat at the bedside with many families dealing with death. He now gives us a hopeful book with the message that the immediacy of death can give rare opportunities for emotional and spiritual growth.
Dr. Byock tells the true stories of his own father's death and other families he has known that have found growth, love, and reconciliation in the face of pain, conflict, and death. His practical advice shows families how to work with medical caregivers, relatives, and one another to make the most of the precious time that remains. This book has a range of material that will be of interest to both professional caregivers and the general public.
Along the way Byock shares his opinions on the euthanasia debate, assisted suicide, vegetative states, and feeding tubes. Not all the deaths described in this book are easy or free of pain. The story of Terry, a 31-year-old mother with cancer, illustrates the fine distinction between hastening death and ensuring comfort.
The message is clear that with top-quality medical care the physical pain of dying almost always can be controlled, but healing emotional pain requires skills that go beyond the customary physician's toolkit. For those deeper pains only honesty, forgiveness, and a loving good-bye offer help.