[MOL] Caregiving series 4 of 4 end/ How to support.... [01239] Medicine On Line


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[MOL] Caregiving series 4 of 4 end/ How to support....



How to support a dying person

The following are extracts from an interview by Libby Purves with Dr Robert Buckman in the Times about his book 'I Don't Know What to Say - How to Help and Support Someone who is Dying', published by Papermac, L6-95.

Six years ago Dr Buckman nearly died himself of a rare auto-immune disease. He recovered, and the experience gave him a certain strength in dealing with the pain of other people's last days, and above all a passionate desire to communicate one fact that he - although a determined atheist - sees as centrally important. 'Death ends life, but it does not rob it of its meaning. If you want to kill someone, you take the meaning from their life. When you're dying, you need to know that you have been, and will go on being, valuable.'

Above all he urges people to listen when the dying person wants to discuss funerals, or resuscitation or terminal pain, or how the family will get on without him, and to avoid at all costs phrases like 'Don't talk about that now.' He discusses with uncomfortable clarity the psychological pros and cons of trying for endless miracle cures from alternative medicines. 'The attitude of 'I'll go anywhere and I'll try anything' has a price tag. The price is the loss of time to be close to each other, and the loss of that tenderness and sensitivity that might have been allowed to grow.'

He has seen as many ways of dying as there are of living. 'Let your friend go out of life in his own way: it may not be your way or the way you would like to see, and it may not be the way you read about in a book or magazine, but it's his way and consistent with the way he's lived his life.'

 
 
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