Last Acts of Kindness; Lessons for the Living from the Bedsides of the Dying by Judith Redwing Keyssar: A LaMothe Book Review
Posted Sep 14 2011 11:02am
Reviewing the book Last Acts of Kindness; Lessons for the Living from the Bedsides of the Dying by Judith Redwing Keyssar surprised and inspired me as I read it almost in one sitting…holding a tissue in one hand. Redwing (as she referred to herself throughout the book) is an amazing woman teaching us all about life through her experiences with the dying. I noticed that because of her work with hospice and oncology most of her stories took place either in the hospital, at home, or in a hospice setting. And to truly experience these deaths she spent quite a bit of time with her patients, caring for them, learning about their beliefs and helping family members and friends accept death as a part of life. We all know that we will all die but do we talk about it? No…we avoid the subject at all costs.
She asks the question Death: Medical Event of Spiritual Experience in Part One of Last Acts of Kindness. All of part one is dedicated to those who died in a hospital setting. From ‘Pulling the Plug’ to ‘A Champagne Toast in the ICU’ the reader is touched by what we mortal beings go through as we take those last few breaths.
I especially liked Part Two: Ingredients for Easing Suffering: Wisdom, Humor and Love. Parts Three and Four are also very valuable to anyone interested in seeking inner peace for themselves or a loved one. I love the fact that there are several pages of resources in the back for those who want to plan for the end of their own life or to assist older parents or patients who are suffering with cancer and other such diseases to prepare for what is surely to come.
Throughout Last Acts of Kindness you will find poetry, quotes and Redwing’s own thoughts and opinions which are very poignant in some cases and in others strait to the point. I am so glad that I read this book now, in my own mid-life. I feel I have a much better understanding of what’s to come not only for myself but for those I love and cherish.
Judith Redwing Keyssar, RN, BA,
is the Director of the Palliative and End-of-Life Care Program at Seniors at Home, a division of Jewish Family and Children's Services (JFCS) of the San FranciscoBay Area. Previously, she was the Director of Patient Care Services for Zen Hospice Project (ZHP). Ms. Keyssar also spent fifteen years working in intensive care, oncology and hospice. She was "called" to be a “midwife to the dying” while she was attending her closest friend, who was dying at age 30 after sustaining severe head trauma from a motorcycle accident. The story of her initiation into the field of death and dying is presented in the prologue of the book.