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Communication at the End of Life


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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Series Editor Preface



Communication at the End of Life


Communication at the End of Life represents a milestone in the history of ideas about lifespan communication and is a significant and essential addition to the Lifespan Communication: Children, Families and Aging book series. Together, the editors and authors provide us with a communicative lens through which to view the many sides of experiencing our final days. They enlighten us about myriad choices, provide insights into improving the quality of end of life, and offer a positive framework for use by all those sharing an end-of-life journey. Although difficult and profound on so many levels, communication during end of life is really a continuation of all the communication that has come before and will come after—something that the famous Brandeis University sociologist Morrie Schwartz (2008) understood all too well, as he reminded us that if we can learn how to die, we can learn how to live.

Like this volume, the book series invites scholars to view communication through a panoramic lens—first words to final conversations—a comprehensive communication vista that brings children, adolescents, and adults of all ages into focus for the field of communication. It is my hope that such a view will become ← ix | x → commonplace in communication thinking and research where communication scholars take seriously the idea that all communication is developmental from its beginning to its end.

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