Dunsteadler is a colleague and friend
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An excellent choice to share with a loved one who would rather talk about something more pleasant
Reviewed in the United States on April 1, 2021
Most of us would much rather run away from death than face it, and why not? Serious illness and end of life are big scary subjects. They can feel overwhelming, even terrifying. It’s much more pleasant to talk about the weather, baseball, or just about anything else but how we or a loved one might make our final exit.
Our reluctance to talk about death feeds our fear and makes a difficult but important topic even harder to face. Dunsteadler meets that reluctance head on, with clarity, honesty, reassurance, compassion, and acceptance.
For example, she incorporates and explains clinical language when discussing diseases, symptoms, and treatments in several helpful examples and case studies - not as confusing jargon that creates a barrier between nurse and patient/family, but because she respects them, their situation, and what’s ahead.
Dunsteadler describes the kinds of painful emotional suffering that often goes along with serious physical illness, and may be even more challenging to address than pain or difficult breathing - being separated from family, or remembering someone else’s difficult death and fearing the same.
She also shows how an effective hospice team works together to relieve pain and distress - physically, emotionally, and spiritually. It’s not magic, and a hospice team doesn’t always bat 1.000, but Dunsteadler lays out the many pieces of a worthwhile hospice plan of care that can help - qualified clinicians and caregivers, medications, equipment, supplies, 24/7 support for emergencies that can prevent trips to the hospital, and more.
Dunsteadler’s book isn’t scary, overwhelming, or terrifying - and it’s not nearly as big as you might think a useful and comforting book about end of life should be. I think that’s what makes it so valuable.
Dunsteadler has written a book about living and dying that we can comfortably share with a loved one who would rather talk about something more pleasant. Her image on the cover of the book is just like her message in its pages - calm, reassuring, and not in a hurry.
“I know it’s hard to talk about, but I know you can do it,” she seems to say. “Take your time. I’ll be right here whenever you're ready.”
End of life IS life:
A hospice nurse insight on the misconception of the end
Dunsteadler RN, MA
March 1, 2021