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The Art of Conversation Through Serious Illness


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Table of Contents

Acknowledgments Prologue Introduction Part I. The Many Meanings of Mortal Time Mortal Time: How Long Does it Last? The Multiple Meanings of Mortal Time Shattered Assumptions Creating Meaning Coping Styles What to Expect in Mortal Time The Challenge and the Invitation of Mortal Time A Question of Balance The Prospect of Despair Finding Meaning Living in Mortal Time Sources of Hope Nevertheless, There Is Meaning Part II. Hope from Conversation Hope for the Day Avoiding Gloom False Hope Conversation Healing Conversation: Basic Elements Talking In and About Mortal Time Conversation Partners Empathy Becoming Properly Empathetic Receiving Empathy Honesty: What Can I Say? The Right Words Acknowledging Fear Everyday Conversation with Friends Platitudes: Let's Hope for the Best and Prepare for the Worst You first! The Humane use of Words: Effective Phrases in Mortal Time How Much Time Do I Have? Appreciating Everyday Chatter Denial? Healthy Conversation about Dying Practical Conversation Part III. For Those Left Behind Being a Companion in Mortal Time Kind Companions The Costs and Risks of Companionship The Nine Personal Virtues Most Needed in Mortal Time Consideration and Disciplined Spontaneity Censored Conversation vs. Active Listening Closing: A Word to Caregivers Resilience and Absorbing Suffering Empathy Shift Sharing Mending The Art of Conversation through Serious Illness Notes Bibliography Index

About the Author

Richard P. McQuellon, Ph.D. is Professor of Medicine, Comprehensive Cancer Center of Wake Forest University Baptist Medical Center. Michael A. Cowan, Ph.D. is Assistant to the President, Loyola University New Orleans, and Executive Director of Common Good, a network of civic organizations working to rebuild and transform post-Hurricane Katrina New Orleans.


"This book is unique in that it includes health care professionals in the category of caregivers. Clinicians are not only having these conversations with their patients but are also advising and guiding family and friends who may feel uncomfortable and inexperienced with these important conversations. This book is an excellent resource not only for family and friend caregivers, but also for hospice and palliative medicine professionals and other medical colleagues." --JOURNAL OF PALLIATIVE MEDICINE "Overall this is a thoughtful and compelling book that draws you into the narrative. if you are looking for an academic research-based tome to cite in your studies, then this is not the book for you. But if you value the fact that clinical practice really should be guided by the patient's experience and what we can learn from that, then you really should take a look at this small gem of a book." -- Robert Becker, Senior Lecturer in Palliative Care, Staffordshire University Faculty of Health and Severn Hospice Shropshire, England

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