Written with wisdom and empathy, Caring for the Dying is an incredible book filled with love. Though this is a book about death and thus filled with stories of people dying, it is not a sad book. Through 12 chapters, Fersko-Weiss guides readers through an approach to caring for those who are dying, and thus also caring for their loved ones, with an approach based on how birth doulas are trained. Each chapter is replete with not only ideas, methods and techniques but also with stories, highlighting the different theories and practices in real life scenarios.
One of the most important chapters, in my opinion, is the third chapter -- Death Mythology. Most, if not all of us have preexisting beliefs, thoughts and ideas surrounding death which we may not even be consciously aware of. It is in this chapter where the author discusses this, sharing stories as examples and giving ideas and techniques as ways of unearthing these to help the griever(s) moving forward in their processing of the dying and death. Two chapters later, chapter five is the only chapter, in my opinion, that can equal the third in importance. The fifth chapter is all about deep, active listening. Here the reader can really learn to hear what people are saying but also how to gently ask questions, or to reflect back, to better empathize and help individuals cope.
Other chapters included in Caring for the Dying are Creating Legacy Projects, The Vigil, and Planning for the Final Days. Individually each chapter can be immensely helpful to anyone going through the dying process with someone, or even anyone interested in counselling or the grief process. But taken as a whole this book can really be a life changer.
As our society becomes more and more sterile a disconnected, Caring for the Dying is not only a great book for helping those and their loved ones who are crossing the veil, but also for those with family who are ill in pretty much any way. Furthermore from the first to the last page Fersko-Weiss stresses that the "death doula" be not only caring but at every moment non-judgmental. I truly recommend this book for everyone; I don't believe there is anyone who won't take something from reading it.
~review by: Jessica Elizabeth
Author: Henry Fersko-Weiss
2017; Red Wheel-Weiser