Sunday, October 3, 2010

Death and Dying and NOT Airy-Fairy

A woman with long gray hair tied up on her head asked me if we had any books by David Kessler.

"On death and dying?", she said. "I'd like to see anything by him."

I took her over to the death and grieving section and showed her his books. She looked at them for a few moments and then said, "I don't want this. Why would someone suggest THIS to me? This isn't what I wanted at ALL."

Life Lessons: Two Experts on Death and Dying Teach Us About the Mysteries of Life and Living

A man came up to her and said, "How's it going?"

"I'm grumbling," she said.

"I can see that," he said, smiling. They got up and walked away. A few minutes later, she came up to me and said, "Okay, maybe you can help me find what I'm looking for. I want to know about the physical part of the dying process, what happens to the body when it's dying. I don't want that airy-fairy stuff."

"Ah," I said. "Right, the death and dying section doesn't really deal with the physical part. We have a medical reference section over here, here is a section on specific diseases or conditions, then here's medical reference, these are pretty technical, though" (and I'm thinking as I'm walking and talking) "I'm not sure there will be anything specifically on dying. Over here, on the other side, there are some books about aging, these actually might have something about dying."

"Let me tell you what's going on," she said. "My mother is in hospice, she's dying. Right, well, that's why she's in hospice. She's living with us. And I want to know what's happening to her, I want to be able to help her and I want to know. Some doctor recommended that Kessler guy, that's not what I wanted at all."

I knelt down to look at the Aging section (with which I am quite familiar). "There are several about caring for aging parents, a lot of them are dealing with people just starting to think about when parents having to move out of their homes, and into a care facility and all the ramifications of that, and you're beyond all that (she's nodding the whole time). However, at the end of these books many of them deal with the end stages of life. There are quite a few about Alzheimer's..."

"She has dementia," she said. "And she's getting close to the end, she hasn't been able to drink anything for a few days now."

"Ah. Well, this one is excellent." I point to The 36 Hour Day. It does start with early diagnosis and so on, but it does also talk about the very end. And this one by Gail Sheehy is about being a caregiver, she talks about how it is for YOU. It also might talk about the end stages. There are several others here that are about caring for aging parents, and they go through a lot of situations, and up until the end." I pull several books off the shelf and hand them to her.


"This is great, this is just what I'm looking for," she said. "I really appreciate all the time you've taken with me, this is just what I needed. Thank you so much."

"You're welcome. Good luck with everything."

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1 comment:

  1. You are good at what you do: both selling books and writing about it. Keep up the good work.