Book Reviews

Palliative Care Book of the Month

This is a remarkable book written by a most resourceful and insightful occupational therapist who works in palliative care in New Mexico.

I have no end of admiration for people who have trained themselves to be completely ‘being with’ a patient, totally focused and listening, to help someone who is dying to meet their goals and needs. Jillian Brasch is one such person; the other one who comes to mind is Christina Puchalski (A Time for Listening and Caring, Oxford University Press, 2006).

Here are the stories of seventeen patients, filled with compassion and caring, as well and Jillian Brasch’s practical strategies and insights. Anyone who works in palliative care will enjoy reading these stories and, if you’re like me, they will improve your ‘being with’ skills.

Highly recommended.

Roger Woodruff
International Association of Hospice and Palliative Care

Finally, death and dying are emerging as events to be openly spoken about in our culture, and THE LAST GIFTS is an important step in that direction. Sooner or later, you or someone you love will need the wisdom in these pages. Filled with inspiration, compassion, and insight, this exquisitely crafted and deeply humane book will bring hope to all who read it.”

Larry Dossey, MD
Author: Healing Words and The Power of Premonitions

Jillian Brasch’s riveting book, The Last Gifts: Creative Ways to Be with the Dying, is of inestimable value to physicians, nurses and other healthcare professionals in end-of-life care. Her compassionate approach to occupational therapy exemplifies the paradigm shift in medical care, professional expertise profoundly informed by empathy and authenticity. Every member of the hospice and palliative care team can benefit from Ms. Brasch’s practical strategies and insights.”

Porter Storey, M.D., F.A.C.P, F.A.A.H.P.M.
Executive Vice-President, American Academy of Hospice and Palliative Medicine

Exquisitely written, The Last Gifts: Creative Ways to Be with the Dying is a heart-opening guide not just for healthcare professionals but family members and friends of a person who is ill, disabled, or dying. From her disarmingly honest personal introduction to the compelling stories of the dying people themselves, Jillian Brasch gives us an emotional map of how to be genuinely helpful. You’ll find yourself looking forward to using your own creativity to help the person you love through his or her illness with its physical, psychological, and spiritual challenges, right up to their dying and your bereavement. Jillian Brasch and her patients model deep courage and unconditional love.”

Gail Donohue Storey
Author of The Lord’s Motel and God’s Country Club

Jill has written a compelling book, rich with insights and the satisfaction of small triumphs. Her story of her own growing up and experience reveals the quality of her spirit and her creativity shines out of every description of her work. She draws her characters with such clarity and compassion that we feel we know each patient; in both shadow and sunshine.

Jill is a gifted writer, and has given us stories and lessons that are simply told and thoroughly imbued with gentle wisdom. This book should be on everyone’s reading list.”

Mary Stephenson
Hospice Volunteer Director

The library of stories compiled within the lifetimes of seventeen patients is exquisitely brought to the pages of this book as Jillian Brasch opens her heart and that of the reader to these dying individuals. Each patient’s story brings forth the message that while dying may be welcomed, untimely or unwanted, death comes as a natural process of living. Ms. Brasch gently guides us through the process of ‘being with’ those who face the challenges of limited life and certain death. And, she reassures us that even as the process of death and loss may be painful and uncertain, there is also the promise of joy and ultimate accomplishment.”

Jane C. Sidwell, MSW, RN, CHPN
Hospice and Palliative Nurse

A lovely book of stories about compassion and caring, touching the spirit and being touched, and about empowerment through human interaction. It’s called just being with folks. You’re sure to find a meaningful slice of your life in Jillian’s book.”

Michael Appleton, MD FAAHPM
Internal Medicine and Palliative Care

These people stepped out of the pages and sat next to me as I read their stories, and I felt a peaceful stream running through me as I read. The Last Gifts: Creative Ways to Be with the Dying gave me a whole new level of understanding how to live, not only among the dying, but among my living. Now, I’m more present with my children and listen to their real needs. After reading it I have a desire to live more fully and not take life for granted. I was changed by it, made better by it, awakened by it, educated by it, enlightened by it. This book shows us how to step beyond the obvious into the realm of TRUE love.”

Linda Leibowitz
Caregiver to her dying mother

My experience of my best friend’s death would have been very different or possibly even traumatic without the wisdom and guidance in this book. Jillian’s experience and insight were a profound gift to me–the gift of really being with my friend during the time of her death. Jillian helped me keep a loving, spiritual perspective through the transitions, which meant that I could be fully present with my friend in the time that we had. And I was able to be with my friend in ways she needed. I will always be grateful.”

Paige Young Cannon
Caregiver to her dying friend

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Buy the Book

Buy The Last Gifts at any of these online retailers:

  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Indie Bound