Handbook for Mortals : About The Book

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Handbook for Mortals : Guidance For People Facing Serious Illness

By Joanne Lynn, M.D. and Joan Harrold, M.D.
Foreword by Rosalynn Carter, Publication date: March, 1999, 242 pp., ISBN: 0195146018 (hardback)


At last we have a comprehensive and authoritative guide to end of life care, written for a general audience by a team of specialists that includes some of the world's leading authorities in the field. This readable and sensible book should be read by every family caring for a loved one who is seriously ill, and by every medical professional working in a palliative care setting. The development team for the book included experts in many disciplines and used input from focus groups to ensure that the content was relevant and complete.

There is an overall tone to the book which is encouraging without denying the difficult realities of living with serious illness. The authors understand that readers must be empowered to live life on their own terms and find opportunities for growth even in the darkest of situations. Early on the book tackles the question "How do you handle the urgent need to find meaning for yourself in what is soon to be a completed life?"

There's a wealth of sensible advice on how to make decisions about care, where to find support and treatment resources, how to communicate with physicians, how to get effective pain management, when to let go of medical treatment, issues in hastening death, and a host of other fundamental concerns. There's a discussion of the ethical issues of assisted suicide that balances arguments from several sides of the question. The book handles many specialized situations, with details on several common disease processes and types of death. A solid resource guide points readers to major sources of information for further study and support.

The book achieves all of this without looking or reading like a textbook. Sensitive photographs, poetry, and anecdotes appear on almost every page, giving support and encouragement while conveying the reality of the subject matter. The balance between content and presentation is extremely well done, making the book accessible to a general audience while still having enough detail to be of value to medical professionals.

Overall the book is a remarkable achievement and should hold a place on the "short list" of books with universal application in end of life care.

[Book review by Growth House, Inc. [www.growthhouse.org] used with permission.]

Table of Contents

Foreword by Rosalynn Carter
1. Living With Serious Illness
2. Enduring And Changing
3. Finding Meaning
4. Helping Family Make Decisions And Give Care
5. Getting The Help You Need
6. Talking With Your Doctor
7. Controlling Pain
8. Managing Other Symptoms
9. Learning About Specific Illnesses
10. Planning Ahead
11. Forgoing Medical Treatment
12. Hastening Death
13. Coping With Events Near Death
14. The Dying Of Children
15. Dying Suddenly
16. Enduring Loss
17. Additional Resources

Presentation in online format was developed using methodologies and systems provided by Growth House, Inc. [www.growthhouse.org]