The author, Jennifer Worth, is better known for her books, Call the Midwife, on which the popular TV series is based. In addition to her years as a midwife, she also worked as a nurse and ward sister at, among other places, the Marie Curie Hospital in London. (It seems that quite a few of us who had been midwives did just as she, in going on to work with the dying.)
The chapters provide vignettes, as it were, of many relevant aspects of care of the dying. In a way the book reads as a series of case studies, each illustrative of the particular point she makes. As well as being totally accessible to the lay person, this could serve as a great handbook for anyone working in the area, not just because of the material covered but because of the way it is presented. This woman can write! As one critic puts it: ‘[She] is indeed a natural storyteller – in the best sense of the term, with apparent artlessness, in fact concealing high art.’
The range of subjects include The Advance Directive , Family Involvement, Social Attitudes to Death, Grief, Stroke, Dementia, Congestive Heart Failure, Open Heart Resuscitation, Euthanasia, and lots more.
Be warned: this is not a comfortable or comforting read. I was perturbed by Worth’s deeply disturbing account (in the chapter entitled, ‘999’), of how a daughter stood by, helpless, in her mother’s apartment, as ambulance officers attempted to revive her aged parent, already dead for over 90 minutes. That shocked me into relating the scenario to my own mother and, with her whole-hearted consent, setting in motion an Advanced Health Directive for her, so she might be spared such a fate.
Buy the book on Amazon: In the Midst of Life
See the blog An Advance Directive for my Mum in which I have written about this.