Spirituality in Hospice Care
How Staff and Volunteers Can Support the Dying and Their Families
Edited by Andrew Goodhead and Nigel Hartley Jessica Kingsley Publishers
2017, 240pp (pbk) ISBN: 9781785921025 £19.99
The concepts of spirituality and spiritual care are complex. This book makes a distinctive and important contribution to the growing literature in this area. It is well organised and carefully written. The chapters narrate the experience of engaging in the support of those dying and others who accompany them. Their richness are due in part to the range of professional perspective which include medics, nurses, physiotherapists, educators, managers, artists, volunteers, psychotherapists, chaplains and social workers. There is a quality of reflexivity in each of the chapters. The editors have attracted both a breadth and variety of experience.
The book is published to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the opening of St Christopher’s Hospice. It is a fascinating reflection on how our attempts to think about and deliver spiritual care continue to both change and develop.
It is an informative and illuminating book and I shall be certainly pointing some of my students wishing to enlarge their perspective on pastoral care to areas of discussion contained within some of the chapters.
Anyone who risks engaging with those who are embracing mortality will certainly be changed by the sheer complexity and difference within which an individual moves from life to death. It is a messy and complicated business where even the neatest of theories and definitions are bound to reach their limits. The balance, connectivity and gaps between what we know and what remains incomprehensible; between the relationship between religion and spirituality remain important to interrogate. There is further work for us all to do in this area. If we are to be faithful to our commitment to journey with those who are dying then language, metaphor, narrative and silence are wells of wisdom to be drawn from.
Potential and possibility are the hallmarks of these essays. They demand our careful attention and should challenge us into further thinking and action.