“When Death Comes Knocking for your Patients”

A Guide for Nurses and Palliative Caregivers

Based on thirty years of experience as an oncology nurse, Meina Dubetz shares real-life stories that will enable you as a nurse or palliative caregiver to fully support your patients facing death.

Reading these stories, you will learn how to say the right things and reassure your patients’ loved ones that providing quality care and comfort is your priority. You will also become more comfortable answering difficult questions that patients and their family members may ask you about death and dying.
Equally important, you will learn how to take better care of yourself as you care for your patients.

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Julys Book of the Month

Dr. Roger Woodruff


"I did not know what to expect when I picked up this book. The distilled wisdom of one nurse’s 30 years in oncology and palliative care? When I had trouble putting it down, I realized it was something special.

Death’s knocking starts in the Introduction. She describes her own experience of having a stillborn child and coming to terms with the loss, and then dealing with her father’s deterioration into dementia (and eventual death), which she feels led her to interact with her patients in a more individualized, personal, and compassionate way.

The book is divided into two sections: 1. Delivering Compassionate Care to Your Patients at the End of Life, and 2. Optimizing Your Own Self-Care and the Care You Give Your Patients. Each is a series of short, vivid clinical stories (most are only one or two pages), used to highlight how to deal with the problems patients and their families have to face and the problems they present to you, as well as recognizing your own problems. The stories that stuck in my memory were the ones in the chapter about caring for other nurses facing death. What I also liked was that, here and there, Dubetz admits to having gotten it wrong, but she learns from those mistakes. The second part is a little more focused on how you (the nurse) can best cope with dealing with a lot of death and dying. She offers a Self-Care Commitment Plan, and START — Five Tips to Calm Yourself, both of which are available at www.MeinaDubetz.com.

I liked this book because it was a no-holds-barred report, straight from the bedside trenches, of all the problems associated with death and dying in oncology and palliative care. That is combined with a lot of experienced advice about how to best deal with those problems and care for yourself at the same time. I think any palliative care nurse will enjoy reading this book, and will be better off for meditating on the problems illustrated by Dubetz. And, whilst it is written by a nurse for nurses, anyone who works in palliative care will identify with the problems described in this book and be better off for having read it."

(Roger Woodruff, June 2018)