End-of-Life Stories: Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries

End-of-Life Stories: Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries

End-of-Life Stories: Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries

End-of-Life Stories: Crossing Disciplinary Boundaries


"End-of-life experiences are often viewed in terms of only one perspective such as medicine. In this volume, a variety of end-of-life experiences are presented and each case is analyzed from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. These range across a broad array of the helping professions, and disciplines such as information, law and the social sciences."


Kathryn L. Braun, PhD Director, Center on Aging University of Hawaii, Manoa

When I consider that the seminal work by Elisabeth Kubler-Ross was published in the 1970s, I realize that I am a relative newcomer to research and service focused on death and dying. Yet in the past decade, I have been surprised and pleased by the further evolution of thanatology, the study of death and dying. This book, written by my colleagues at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan, represents another forward step in the field because it explores aspects of death and dying within the frameworks of narrative, culture, and multidisciplinary care.

“Narrative” is a fancy word for story, and stories help us organize and make meaning of events. This book attempts to enhance end-of-life understandings by sharing stories of people encountering death. The stories are compelling, and the emotions and connections we feel toward a story help draw us in. In reading the varying perspectives around each death we see that there is no single way to know a story. In fact, as the editors point out, the power of narrative illustrates that there is no truth, only different ways of seeing. This is an important concept for helping professionals to grasp as they strive to reduce suffering and increase opportunities to find meaning at the end of life.

The health care field today depends on the work of different professionals, paraprofessionals, and volunteers. This interdependence is especially true for the dying, who likely will have medical, psychological, social, legal, economic, spiritual, and other needs. Each helping professional is trained to assess and prescribe within the perspective of his or her chosen discipline. But more emphasis is needed on how these disciplines can work together. In this book . . .

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