Title: Hospice Voices: Lessons For Living At The End of Life
Author: Eric Lindner
Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield
Published: October 6 2013
Source: Received a copy in order to participate in this tour
My Rating: 3 Stars
As a part-time hospice volunteer, Eric Lindner provides companion care to dying strangers. They re chatterboxes and recluses, religious and irreligious, battered by cancer, congestive heart failure, Alzheimer s, old age. Some cling to life amazingly. Most pass as they expected. In telling his story, Lindner reveals the thoughts, fears, and lessons of those living the ends of their lives in the care of others, having exhausted their medical options or ceased treatment for their illnesses. In each chapter, Lindner not only reveals the lessons of lives explored in their final days, but zeroes in on how working for hospice can be incredibly fulfilling. As he s not a doctor, nurse, or professional social worker, just a volunteer lending a hand, offering a respite for other care providers, his charges often reveal more, and in more detail, to him than they do to those with whom they spend the majority of their time. They impart what they feel are life lessons as they reflect on their own lives and the prospect of their last days. Lindner captures it all in his lively storytelling. Anyone who knows or loves someone working through end of life issues, living in hospice or other end of life facilities, or dealing with terminal or chronic illnesses, will find in these pages the wisdom of those who are working through their own end of life issues, tackling life s big questions, and boiling them down into lessons for anyone as they age or face illness. And those who may feel compelled to volunteer to serve as companions will find motivation, inspiration, and encouragement. Rather than sink under the weight of depression, pity, or sorrow, Lindner celebrates the lives of those who choose to live even as they die.
Initially I felt somewhat put off by this book. The whole feeling and flow of it seemed choppy and disjointed. As I continued to read, it grew on me, though.
Over the course of several chapters we learn how Eric becomes a hospice volunteer, the impact it has on him, and the difficulties the process entails. It's a tough line to toe, knowing what to say and do, and how to say and do things, and when. Dying is a subject that no one likes to bring up. And sometimes, when we don't know what to say, we say exactly the wrong thing, as is evidenced in some of Lindner's experiences with his clients.
There is quite the interesting mix of people that Eric comes into contact with over the course of his time as a volunteer. Each is unique, with their own quirks, and stories. Sometimes, he gets to spend a great deal of time with these clients, other times, the time spent is much shorter. Each has their own lesson to impart, and the impact of these lessons is easily apparent.
The one thing that put me off about the book is that the feel is very choppy, and disjointed. As much as it put me off though, I understood it. Life is never straightforward, never really linear, and neither is the process of dying. And so as off putting as the format was to me, I do understand it more now that I've thought about it.
It might seem like this would be a very downtrodden or depressing book, but it's not. The experiences are mostly positive, and the lessons can be taken to heart by readers very easily.
I have to say it must be very difficult to be a hospice volunteer. To be able to try to know just what to say and do all while also knowing that more than likely your client will not be getting better. I couldn't imagine doing it. This book gives an in depth look at at that experience and just may inspire readers to volunteer themselves.