Reviews

Book review: Living in Death’s Shadow: Family Experiences of Terminal Care and Irreplaceable Loss

Macmillan cancer nurse specialist Kenneth Day reviews Living in Death’s Shadow: Family Experiences of Terminal Care and Irreplaceable Loss.

Living in Death’s Shadow: Family Experiences of Terminal Care and Irreplaceable Loss

Emily K. Abel

Johns Hopkins University Press

US$39.95 (£23.40) | 184pp hardback

ISBN: 9781421421841

We live longer and healthier lives than our ancestors. Even though we are living longer, the sobering fact is our dying takes longer too.

This book by professor Emily K Abel, an American medical historian and an expert on the history of death and dying, seeks to place into context the changes in our approach to death and dying over the past 30 years. It is a sobering account gleaned largely from the memoirs of family members whose relatives have died from chronic disease.

The book describes the changes there have been in the care of those with chronic and often incurable diseases. It goes on to describe the ‘shadow workforce’ of family and friends who care for the dying person alongside any medical treatments.

Although this is not specifically a nursing-focused book, it is thought provoking, interesting and well written.


Reviewed by Kenneth Day, Macmillan cancer nurse specialist, London North West Hospitals NHS Trust. 

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