Cancer Diary: The Stages of Dying Guide We Used to Accompany Carl in His Dying

One of the most comforting and helpful resources we found when Carl was in the final days of hospice -- more helpful than what hospice workers could tell us and more than doctors did tell us -- was a little book, called Gone from My Sight: The Dying Experience by Barbara Karnes, RN.

As Carl went through each predicted and predictable stage from being distant mentally, to not eating, and then to not drinking, this little book told us the range of expectations and what was happening to his body in preparation for death in relation to what he was and was not doing.

The book description on Amazon is very accurate: 

The biggest fear of watching someone die is fear of the unknown; not knowing what dying will be like or when death will actually occur. The booklet "Gone From My Sight" explains in a simple, gentle yet direct manner the process of dying from disease. Dying from disease is not like it is portrayed in the movies. Yet movies, not life, have become our role models. Death from disease is not happenstance. It doesn't just occur; there is a process. People die in stages of months, weeks, days and hours. "Gone From My Sight" is literature used to reduce fear and uncertainty; to neutralize the fear associated with dying. It is designed to help people understand dying, their own or someone else's.

Karnes has since produced a number of single-topic, death-related, helpful, realistic, experience-informed books. They are all worth a look. They can be found at her website.

Blog editor's note: As a memorial to Carl, and simply because it is truly needed, MSI  is now hosting a web page, Carl's Cancer Compendium, as a one-stop starting point for all things cancer, to make it easier for those with cancer to find answers to questions that can otherwise take hours to track down on the Internet and/or from professionals. The web page is in its infancy but expected to expand into robustness. As part of this effort, each week, on Monday, this blog will carry an informative, cancer-related story -- and be open to guest posts: Cancer Diary. 


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