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Communication at the End of Life


Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum, Howard Giles and Amber Worthington

Communication is at the heart of any complete understanding of the end of life. While it is true that individuals physically die as a single entity, the process of ending an individual life is located within a complex system of relationships and roles connected and constructed through communicative processes. In this volume, top scholars from numerous disciplines showcase the latest empirical investigations and theoretical advances that focus on communication at the end of life. This multi-contextual approach serves to integrate current findings, expand our theoretical understanding of the end of life, prioritize the significance of competent communication for scholars and practitioners, and provide a solid foundation upon which to build pragmatic interventions to assist individuals at the end of life as well as those who care for and grieve for those who are dying. This book is suitable for undergraduate and graduate courses in Death and Dying, Communication and Aging, Health Communication, Life Span Development, Life Span Communication, Long term care, Palliative care and Social Work.
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Chapter Seven: Conversations at the End of Life



Conversations AT THE End OF Life



I completed my relationship with him. I didn’t walk away thinking, ‘Aauugh, I should have said.’ ‘I didn’t say.’ ‘I could have said.’ ‘I wanted to say.’ There wasn’t anything that we didn’t really say. And in the final analysis the most important, the absolutely most important things were all said; because the person who is left doesn’t get stuck holding a bunch of untied knots. It’s complete. You’re not dragging anything along with it. We both completed the relationship. We both were able to let each other know that we didn’t want it to go that way. But since it was going to go that way anyway [we made the most of that final time]. (Loved one describing her final conversations with her husband, Keeley & Yingling, 2007, pp. 17, 18)

She liked to be touched because she said they only touch her when they need to give her medication. So, she liked to have her hair brushed or her arms or legs rubbed, and just talking. She loved to hear about my kids. I told her once that I have a flower garden and every time I saw her after that, without fail, we talked about my garden. It was a connection for us, a bridge. (Shyanne,1 a hospice volunteer, describing visits to her patient, Foster, 2007, pp. 151–152)

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