Edited By Jon F. Nussbaum, Howard Giles and Amber Worthington
Introduction: Communicating At, For, and About the End of Life
MAUREEN P. KEELEY
JON F. NUSSBAUM
Baby boomers, the largest segment of the U.S. population, are coming to the age at which they feel their own mortality and must cope with their parents’ deaths and, increasingly, with their peers’ deaths. Approximately 25% of our middle-aged generation (currently the largest group in our society) lives with their parents; 13 million are caregivers for ailing parents (“Baby Boomer News & Information,” 2005). In addition, these same boomers have more trouble discussing end-of-life issues (their own as well as that of their family members and friends) with their parents than do their parents who are now in their 70s or beyond (Greenwald & Associates, 2005). People at times may desire to learn more about what to expect; how to talk with professional health care workers about end-of-life choices, expectations, and fears; how to be a more effective partner on this journey with a loved one; and how to better prepare themselves for dealing with their own stress and grief as they care for and deal with the immediate loss of a loved one and the aftermath (see Chapter 11 of this volume; all further references to chapters are to those in this volume).
Unfortunately, we live in a culture that removes death from our view, apart from its ubiquity in the movies and in videogames (see Chapter 5). A century ago, witnessing death was commonplace because people died at home and...
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