Art & Entertainment | Book Reviews | Education | Entertainment Video | Health | Lifestyle | Sport | Sport Video | Search

 


Karen McMillan - Author of Dying: A NZ Guide for the Journey

Liam Butler interviews Karen McMillan - Author of Dying: A New Zealand Guide for the Journey.

27 May 2014

Liam Butler

Question one

Karen, Dying: A New Zealand Guide for the Journey has been written to help anyone who is dying, and their family and carers. Do you think people dying in New Zealand are empowered to guide their journey?

I think with support anyone who is dying in New Zealand can be empowered on this particular life journey. There is understandably a lot of care and attention for when we are born, but thanks to hospices and palliative care services in New Zealand, there is now just as much care and attention for when we are dying. I think there has been a shift in attitude over the last couple of decades where people are more likely to talk about death, where once it was treated as a taboo subject. Death and taxes seem to be the only sure things in life, so it is good that people are more open about what happens when someone is dying - it means friends and family are more likely to turn up and support the person who is dying, rather than leaving them to cope alone.

Death is a perfectly natural part of the cycle of life, but while we know this intellectually, it can be difficult to accept emotionally. For the person who has received the news that they are dying, there are many things that can help ease their days. Here are some of the tips from Dying: A New Zealand Guide for the Journey :

Try to live in the present, moment to moment. Live each day dealing with the day as it is, good or bad. Dwell neither in the past nor in the future.

Pace and clear your life. Take one step at a time and keep things as simple as possible. Determine what is truly important, focus on it, and discard the rest. Shed unnecessary baggage.

Deal with unfinished business - wherever possible - as this eases the path to death without distractions.

Get real. Talking about what really matters is difficult enough while we are in good health, let alone facing the end of our life as we know it. Total honesty with the self helps in the tricky task.

Find a place for laughter. A good sense of humour, an ability to see the funny side in tragedy, is not only healthy but also refreshing.

Seek assistance. If necessary, seek the expertise of competent counsellors and social workers. Get yourself a spiritual counsellor. If you find that the one of your choice is not able to assist you, find another.

Create a support circle. It's never too late to find a small group of friends or family with whom you are able to develop an honest and trusting relationship. They will help you on this, the most important journey of your life.

Approach your general practitioner for information. Your general practitioner can help you find out about palliative care.

I can't stress how important it is to get in contact with your local hospice. My mother signed up with her local hospice when she was terminally ill. She was so sick and in so much pain we all feared she would die in a few weeks, but with their expert help they got on top of her symptoms and she enjoyed nine months of quality living, well enough to enjoy outings, gardening and spending time with those who loved her, before she passed away peacefully.

Question two

The hospice movement is cherished by many New Zealanders. What are some of the other service providers that play an integral health in palliative care in New Zealand?

Hospice New Zealand is the largest palliative care organisation with hospices in many regions (www.hospice.org.nz). Nursing help can also come from Access Home Health (www.access.org.nz) or the New Zealand Nursing Agency (www.nznursing.co.nz). Other contacts that might be useful are New Zealand AIDS Foundation (www.nzaf.org.nz), Cancer Society of New Zealand (www.cancernz.org.nz), Alzheimer's New Zealand (www.alzheimers.org.nz), Motor Neuron Disease Association of New Zealand (www.mndanz.org.nz/network.asp) and the Muscular Dystrophy Association of New Zealand (www.mda.org.nz).

For personal support there is also the Funeral Directors Association of New Zealand (www.fdanz.org.nz) and the National Association of Loss and Grief (NALAG) (www.nalag.org.nz)

Question three

The guide covers all aspects of care and respect for the dying person. What are some of the ways people can support a dying person well that they may not have thought of?

The most important thing to support a person who is dying so to be available to see them when it is convenient for them and to actually listen to what the person wants. It is important to treat them as the person you have always cherished, a living person to be interested in and valued. It is important to adhere to their wishes as much as possible.

When my mother was terminally ill, I had to sometimes stand back and watch her do tasks that I could have done for her in a fraction of the time - but it was the right thing at the time to do as she was wanting to remain as independent as she could for as long as she could. Observe and really listen to the dying person's wishes and all the practical things and emotional support will flow on from there.

Question four

The guide discusses tips for caring for a person dying at home as well as the financial stresses that can occur. What can people do to plan to undertake this caregiving function and have financial and emotional resilience to cope well when the person they cared for has died?

It is important that the carers have their own support team and they take time off from doing the caregiving. It is a mistake to think you can soldier on by yourself and have the emotional resilience to cope, 24/7. When my mother was dying, I was the main caregiver and I moved into her home to care for her. But I had a team of people there to help me. I was able to continue working by doing most of my work from my mother's home, but two days a week I would work from the office and we hired a nurse to look after my mother on those days. My best friend, who is also a nurse, would look after mum on Friday nights, so I was able to a night off. My sister used to come and visit on Sundayafternoons with her children. We developed a routine that worked for all of us - and with the help of hospice, my mother was well enough for some months that she didn't need this round-the-clock care.

Financially there may be assistance from Work and Income, and it is important to find out the costs of any medical treatment that may be needed. It is important for the family to meet and work out a plan of action, considering how best to manage the financial and emotional burden. Also, let friends know the ways they can help. People often want to assist, but don't know what to do. It's okay to ask your friend who is a good cook to provide a meal once a week, and to ask your other friend who is a good communicator to be in charge of phoning people if there is any major updates. Hospice provides many services too, so it is good to talk to them about the ways they can help not just the person dying, but the entire family.

Question five

Whilst the book is on the topic of dying it includes many tips that can help the individual's well-being in times of significant stress. Can you suggest a tip from the book that you think people should apply when times get tough in their daily lives?

Music can be very helpful to people who are dying, as well as people during times of significant stress. Rather than music to engage us, it should be music of tranquillity. Depending on a person's taste it might be something like Gregorian chants, recordings of birdcalls, harps and bells, jazz music, ballads and popular religious songs, or hymns sung solo or with a full choir. Put on a relaxing track, lie down and listen for a time, and your stress levels are sure to drop.

Dying: A New Zealand Guide for the Journey

by Sue Wood, Peter Fox, Karen McMillan

Published by Calico Publishing Ltd

Win a copy worth $31

RRP $31 plus $5 postage and handling

http://calicopublishing.co.nz/book/dying-a-new-zealand-guide-for-the-journey/

Book review by Liam Butler

Karen McMillan lives in New Zealand and is the author of both fiction and non-fiction. Her non-fiction titles include - Unbreakable Spirit: facing the challenge of cancer in New Zealand; Love in Aoteroa (titled Love Bytes in the UK) and Feast or Famine: a New Zealand guide to understanding eating disorders. Karen is also an award-winning fashion designer

Karen's editing of Counsellors Sue Wood and Peter Fox considered writing on the topic of dying has created an accessible and useful resource for both those reaching the end of their life and the people that care for them.

This guide covers the sociological, theological and physiological considerations pertaining to dying well. In addition Sue Wood uses her training as a Nurse and practice as an Aromatherapist to give readers some therapies that terminally ill patients may like to try. Sensible warnings are given about making sure that any interventions are checked by lead palliative care professionals. Sue also sagely advises people check that people are registered to their discipline by looking the New Zealand Charter of Health Professionals.

Mary Schumacher, Chief Executive, Hospice New Zealand thinks this guide is great too...

‘This is an amazing resource for anyone who is dying and for those caring for them, and is also essential reading for all health professionals. The approach is holistic, the writing sensitive, and the advice practical and easy to follow. It is a book to come back to again and again.'

For more information visit

www.calicopublishing.co.nz

www.karenm.co.nz

To enter the Draw and win a Copy of the book CLICK HERE

Draw closes 10th June 2014 Open to NZ residents only.

© Scoop Media

 
 
 
 
 
Culture Headlines | Health Headlines | Education Headlines

 
Scoop Review Of Books: Q&A: Prue Hyman On ‘Hopes Dashed?’

For Scoop Review of Books, Alison McCulloch interviewed Prue Hyman about her new book, part of the BWB Texts series, Hopes Dashed? The Economics of Gender Inequality More>>

Gordon Campbell: On Chuck Berry (And James Comey, And Bill English)

Back when many people were still treating rock’n’roll as a passing fad – was calypso going to be the new thing? – Chuck Berry knew that it had changed popular music forever. What is even more astonishing is that this 30-ish black r&b musician from a middle class family in St Louis could manage to recreate the world of white teenagers, at a time when the very notion of a “teenager” had just been invented. More>>

Howard Davis Review:
The Baroque Fusion Of L'arpeggiata

Named after a toccata by German composer Girolamo Kapsberger, L'Arpeggiata produces its unmistakable sonority mainly from the resonance of plucked strings, creating a tightly-woven acoustic texture that is both idiosyncratic and immediately identifiable. Director Christina Pluhar engenders this distinctive tonality associated with the ensemble she founded in 2000 by inviting musicians and vocalists from around the world to collaborate on specific projects illuminated by her musicological research. More>>

African Masks And Sculpture: Attic Discovery On Display At Expressions Whirinaki

Ranging from masks studded with nails and shards of glass to statues laden with magical metal, the works are from ethnic groups in nine countries ranging from Ivory Coast to the Democratic Republic of the Congo. More>>

Obituary: Andrew Little Remembers Murray Ball

“Murray mined a rich vein of New Zealand popular culture and exported it to the world. Wal and Dog and all the other Kiwi characters he crafted through Footrot Flats were hugely popular here and in Australia, Europe and North America." More>>

ALSO:

Organised Choas: NZ Fringe Festival 2017 Awards

Three more weeks of organised chaos have come to an end with the Wellington NZ Fringe Arts Festival Awards Ceremony as a chance to celebrate all our Fringe artists for their talent, ingenuity, and chutzpah! More>>

ALSO:

Wellington.Scoop: Wellington Writer Wins $US165,000 Literature Prize

Victoria University of Wellington staff member and alumna Ashleigh Young has won a prestigious Windham-Campbell Literature Prize worth USD$165,000 for her book of essays Can You Tolerate This? More>>

ALSO:

Scoop Review Of Books: We’re All Lab Rats

A couple of years ago, there were reports that Silicon Valley executives were sending their children to tech-free schools. It was a story that dripped of irony: geeks in the heart of techno-utopia rejecting their ideology when it came to their own kids. But the story didn’t catch on, and an awkward question lingered. Why were the engineers of the future desperate to part their gadgets from their children? More>>

  • CensusAtSchool - Most kids have no screen-time limits
  • Netsafe - Half of NZ high school students unsupervised online
  • Get More From Scoop

     
     

    LATEST HEADLINES

     
     
     
     
    Culture
    Search Scoop  
     
     
    Powered by Vodafone
    NZ independent news