Sunday, March 14, 2010

Beautiful Stories of Life, and Dying With Dignity

Becoming Dead Right: A Hospice
Volunteer in Urban Nursing Homes
Author: Frances Shani Parker
Publisher: Loving Healing Press
ISBN: 978-1932690354

Frances Shani Parker has woven a beautiful and touching tapestry of life and death; sharing her stories and poems about the very memorable and wonderful patients she worked with as a hospice volunteer. Already extremely busy as a principal, the author decided to learn about becoming a hospice volunteer. Following the workshops, she began her volunteer stint working with patients in urban nursing homes. She chose to visit patients in nursing homes because she believed they were probably less likely to have family and other visitors, and may be in need of outside companionship . Most of her patients were African America, but of course she had some patients of other ethnic groups also.

By sharing her experiences as a hospice volunteer, she allows her readers to take a look inside a situation most of us know nothing about. Through these stories, we learn about the individual patients she works with, along with gaining a much more thorough understanding of the entire hospice system and philosophy. Dying with dignity and peacefullness is something that we all deserve. Hospice care is an important part of ensuring that many people can experience death this way. Numerous races, ages, religious and spiritual beliefs, and life experiences are illustrated here. The process of dying is something that we, as a society, tend to ignore or leave undiscussed. The role of an individual's life experiences, mindset, ability to communicate and religious beliefs all play a huge part in how they interpret the process of death. Ms. Parker has included poetry along with short stories to share her impressions of her patients. In every instance, she found herself learning more about life, and by sharing these lessons we can learn them too.

The book does a great service by bringing the details of hospice to the general reader. We learn how the hospice system can fit into the healthcare system (or lack thereof) in our country today. The final portion of the book is a "tour" of what could be described as the epitome of the place that we all wish we could utilize for ourselves or family members as we/they face the end of life on earth. With the aging of the baby boomer segment of our population, the needs of Americans from the hospice care system becomes greater and greater.

These stories are offered with love and respect by the author to each reader, and you feel that caring and warmth that she offered to each patient she worked with. I will remember many of the stories and the patients they illustrate for some time to come. It's both touching and thought-provoking, and would be a book appreciated at many different levels by all readers. Exceptional ! !

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