A Few Months to Live

cover art
384 pp., 6 x 9
ISBN: 9780878408412 (087840841X)

ISBN: 9781589012264

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April 2001
LC: 00-047671



A Few Months to Live
Different Paths to Life's End
Jana Staton, Roger W. Shuy, and Ira Byock

A Few Months to Live describes what dying is like from the perspectives of nine terminally ill individuals and their caregivers. Documenting a unique study of end-of-life experiences that included detailed conversations in home care settings, the book focuses on how participants lived their daily lives, understood their illnesses, coped with symptoms-especially pain-and searched for meaning or spiritual growth in their final months of life. The accounts are presented largely in the participants' own words, illuminating both the medical and non-medical challenges that arose from the time each learned the "bad news" through their final days of life and memorial services.

Describing the nationwide crisis that surrounds end-of-life care, the authors contend that informal caregiving by relatives and close friends is an enormous and too-often invisible resource that deserves close and public attention. By incorporating not only the ill person's but also the family's perspective, they portray the nine participants in the contexts of their daily lives and relationships rather than simply as patients. Addressing such issues as palliative care, quality of life, financial hardship, grief and loss, and communications with medical personnel, the authors identify how families, professionals, and communities can respond to the challenges of terminal illness and the need to confront life's end.

Jana Staton is a researcher with the Missoula Demonstration Project, a community-wide effort in Missoula, Montana to study and transform end-of-life experience and care. She is author of Listening to Families.

Roger Shuy is Distinguished Research Professor of Linguistics Emeritus at Georgetown University. He is author of Bureaucratic Language of Government and Business.

Ira Byock, MD, is the cofounder of and principal investigator for the Missoula Demonstration Project and is a research professor in the department of philosophy at the University of Montana. He is author of Dying Well: Peace and Possibilities at the End of Life.

"A minute, unsparing, yet tender study that gets closer to the thoughts and feelings of the dying (and those around them) than any comparable research known to me.... A very important book, which must be compared to Sherwin Nuland's How We Die."—Oliver Sacks, author of Awakenings

"This book is an excellent example of ethnographic work where the in-depth qualititave approach provides sharp insights into the world of research participants who were facing the most profound of challenges—the end of their own lives...this book deserves a warm welcome from health professionals."—Palliative Medicine

"A very important book that is critical reading for anyone interested in end of life care. The authors have provided a way to give the dying and their friends and families a voice to facilitate making help more available and responsive to their needs. . . . A classic."—Phyllis R. Silverman, author of Never Too Young to Know: Death in Children's Lives