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ss triple helix - winter 2013,  Spiritual Care of Dying and Bereaved People

Spiritual Care of Dying and Bereaved People

 

Penelope Wilcock
 BRF, 2013
 £9.99, Pb 112pp, ISBN 9780281048779
 Reviewed by Valerie Rowe, a Consultant in Palliative Care

     

Books on 'Spiritual Care' are often theoretical but not this one. It is about people. It is intensely real as the cost of fulfilling a patient's request to 'be there' ( 'watch with me') is acknowledged. But the privilege of journeying with someone on their Emmaus Road and then finding the Lord himself coming alongside is also expressed.

 

It is a practical book, covering topics such as silence, humour, touch, tears, anger and clothing. The shock of death at the beginning of life is covered as are suggestions and prayers for conducting a funeral. Questions are posed which set me thinking – 'vulnerable God' or 'almighty God'? 'heaven and hell'? Mostly I agreed with the author's opinions but not always!

 

The first edition of the book seventeen years ago 'scratched where I itched' but this expanded edition benefits immeasurably from the author honestly sharing experiences she has faced herself in the interim years. The breakup of her first marriage, the terminal illness and death of her second husband, and the loss of integrity felt after family divisions during her third marriage are all exposed to the light, and her vulnerability adds strength to the book.

 

I would recommend it to everyone who seeks to be a companion to their patients, to communicate better the compassionate heart of God and to listen out for inner pain, especially on the final journey. Surely this should be all of us!

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