A Caregiver? Me? by Lynda Bush
[Note: This book was provided free of charge by BookLook/WestBow Press in exchange for an honest review.]
This is a short book, written by someone who likely has not written many books, but it is a deeply moving as well as a deeply practical book that serves not only as a practical guide to being the caregiver of a dying spouse but also a memoir of the author’s experience with her second husband, whom she married as a widow. Though the book does not take long to read as far as its size is concerned, it is the sort of book that would be very tough to read for those who were serving as caregivers for the dying. There is a lot to be praised about this book–for one, it is written well and it is written in a way that is both loving as well as intensely practical. This is not an author who wastes words to puff up a book to a large enough length, but rather one who writes the contents that she sets out to write and leaves it at that when she is done telling her story. Many readers will find a lot to appreciate here, even if it does make for emotionally tough reading at times.
The contents of this book are a dozen short chapters written by a woman who served as the caregiver for her dying husband. The story is written as a straightforward narrative, beginning with their marriage as a widower and widow in the sunset years of life, then looking at the diagnosis of prostate cancer, then the discovery that the cancer had already metastasized to the bone, the treatment via chemotherapy and the decline and eventual death and dealing with the funeral as well as the grieving process afterward. Throughout the author gives very practical advice concerning how to budget for funerals, what resources to give, and even how to pick a funeral home. The deeply emotional account is also accompanied by a certain sense of humor, as her late husband donated his body to science and donation, at least the part of his body that was not ravaged by cancer and therefore unable to be profitably used by someone else, and included a bottle of liquor with the gift of his body, something that appears to have made an impact on the researchers who received his body. Of interest was the fact that the funeral home chosen by the author had a sense of humor as well in honoring this request.
Few people read books about taking care of the dying for fun , but as long as there are people who face the virtual death sentence of metastatic cancer and other people who take care of loved ones facing the end of their lives with as much resolve and good humor as can be mustered under those grim circumstances, this book will be a worthwhile and practical one. Aside from its obvious and unavoidable emotional content, this book is not written to confuse people and provides a personal story along with practical advice that the reader will likely find of some comfort, especially as this book is written from the point of view of someone who can provide comfort and encouragement to those walking along the same journey she took. It is likely that many readers will be as diffident about their own abilities to cope with the difficulties of taking care of a dying loved one, and will likely find the process just as overwhelming. The honesty and graciousness of this book is immensely disarming to criticism, though, and may even encourage others in similar circumstances to share their own struggles with the burden of caring for the dying or mourning the dead with friends or friendly strangers.
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