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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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Epilogue: Walking Through the Door





On any given day we busy ourselves with our families, the task of a daily commute, and overfilled workloads. Not until we cross a very noticeable or purposive threshold do we take stock of all of our labor, our commitments, and our role in the discourse that has become our life work. As long-time collaborators in the field of end-of-life communication, we are humbled by the development of end-of-life care as an area of study in health communication. This Epilogue provides us a meaningful opportunity to reflect on end-of-life communication in the communication discipline and to consider its place in the time we have ahead.

Our volume, Communication as Comfort (Ragan, Wittenberg-Lyles, Goldsmith, & Sanchez-Reilly, 2008), first provided a systematic investigation of communication issues in end-of-life care from a health communication perspective, offering an understanding of palliative care, palliative care communication, and end-of-life communication. We sought to clarify the confusion about the similarities and differences between palliative care and hospice, even among health care providers. As this practice of care grows, and as the governing bodies overseeing health care come to herald palliative care as a key intervention to buoy the fracturing health care system, palliative care programs are more clearly seen as concentrating on relieving suffering and improving quality of life; they do not exclude or include a patient based on diagnosis or prognosis. Hospice care is a subset of palliative care...

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