Thursday, 25 October 2012

Spiritual Care of Dying and Bereaved People - new edition

At the end of the 1980s I had the privilege to be part of the chaplaincy team of a hospice as the Free-Church Chaplain.  I enjoyed that work immensely, and have vivid memories of that wonderful time.

I wrote a book out of it, called Spiritual Care of Dying and Bereaved People, which was published by SPCK around 1990.  It found its way into the libraries of most hospices and a variety of seminaries and hospitals, as well as the homes of individuals looking for a lantern to shed some light on the hard path they were treading.

It eventually went out of print after about twenty years, but second-hand copies continued to fetch a good price (so I noticed when I came across it online) and every year I was approached for permission to print seminary class copies.  So it seemed like a good idea to create a revised and expanded version for republication.

In the intervening years, I had passed through a number of rich and interesting life events – including divorce from one husband and remarriage and then being widowed.  I felt these experiences yielded further insights that could usefully be written up for the encouragement of others.

The new revised and expanded version is published by BRF (Bible Reading Fellowship) and will be out in February 2013, but is available for pre-order now, from their website here

In the twenty years that have elapsed since the first edition came out, some things have changed significantly.  Back then, AIDS was a terrifying phenomenon  – so the chapter on that subject in the original book, pertinent then, had become out-dated, as had one or two other parts of the book.  In the new book, all that has become irrelevant has been pruned out.

The new additions are the story of the death of my husband Bernard, a section about bereavement from other forms of loss than physical death, and a chapter giving detailed and practical advice on how to plan and conduct a funeral.  In the last two decades I have officiated at hundreds of funerals.  I have majored on funerals for people whose spirituality is not easily defined or pigeonholed, but is important to them; people who are searching for an officiant who will help them honestly and authentically articulate their emotions and beliefs in a way that allows the funeral to bring something of healing and peace to a time of sorrow.

The result of all this is a useful, not too hefty volume of reflection on more than two decades worth of personal experience and pastoral involvement with dying, death and bereavement.  Sooner or later every single one of us will have to face some form of the aspect of life this book covers, so you might find it handy to tuck away on a shelf for future reference – whether for yourself or for a friend.

It is available on Amazon as well as the BRF website, but Amazon has had some kind of a brainstorm or got a gremlin in the works, with the result that it only appears on UK Amazon and the Product Review paragraph describes a completely different book.  BRF has tried to fix it but Amazon is its own planet and not an especially easy one to land on.  So for now, if you would like a copy, it's best to order from the BRF website.

365 366 Day 299 – Thursday Oct 25th  

 Oh, this was a useful thing.  A spiral tea-light holder – very compact – made a good centre-piece for a meal-table.  We have other candle-holders.  And jam jars.

365 366 Day 298 – Wednesday Oct 24th  

 Now.  One of these documents was a birthday card (from my beloved Badger I think), and the other was an instruction leaflet from some electronic gizmo.  At any given time I can reckon to have a Flotsam and Jetsam corner in my life which has exactly this kind of thing in.  An essential part of de-cluttering is tackling that very F & J corner.

365 366 Day 297 – Tuesday Oct 23rd   

Every April I go with my darling Badger to Spring Harvest.  We stay in a self-catering chalet.  Their kitchen knives are always blunt and they never have a small one for cutting veggies and we never remember to bring one from home.  Thus are surpluses generated.

365 366 Day 296 – Monday Oct 22nd   

Three years ago we put two households into one and ended up with and Embarassment of Breadboards. We gave both the kitchen knife and the breadboard to a young person starting up a home of his own who hadn't got anything for it yet.

365 366 Day 295 – Sunday Oct 21st  

A vintage nickel silver sauce ladle.  I thought it was sweet.  It was – but hey.


Michelle-ozark crafter said...

I had the great privilege of caring for a terminally ill lady. she was so precious! Also my dear friend Mary was cared for in a hospice hospital in her last few weeks of life. what a difference that made for all concerned!

Pen Wilcock said...

It is a wonderful trust, isn't it, Michelle. And yes, hospice care provides something that is so very much needed and cannot easily be done in a hospital environment. x

Buzzfloyd said...

I am so glad this book is being republished. I think it's a tremendous resource that needs to be more widely available. The things I learned from reading it were a great help to me when dealing with bereaved people when working at the Register Office and then the funeral director's. I'll look forward to reading the updated version.

Pilgrim said...

i really liked that book. I thought it takes a great deal of courage to write that kind of book.

Julie said...

I truly look forward to reading this book, Ember. Perhaps I shall buy more than one sounds like everyone would benefit from it. Thank you. Xxoo

Pen Wilcock said...

Hi friends

Buzz - yes, one tends to think of registrars as administrative officials, but they work with the public at very sensitive and vulnerable times in people's lives - marriage birth and death! And as you found, often the registrar's receptionist is the first person someone bereaved comes out from their home and encounters.

Pilgrim - so glad you liked it - more than half of the new edition is fresh material.

Julie - when you go to Heaven and you see a little queue of people you've never met standing in line to give you a hug and welcome you, I can tell you now those will be the writers and artists you encouraged and supported in your time on Earth. xx

Sandra Ann said...

My herbalist friend is currently negotiating with our local hospice to run a course entitled, "Doula for the dying."

I watched an amazing programme on EWTN about a nurse being a spiritual midwife for the dying, it was just beautiful hearing her re-count her many stories

I'm in awe quite frankly of your writing skills! Yours is truly a gift from above.

San xx

Pen Wilcock said...

:0) Thank you, San. x

'Midwife for the dying' is a wise description. I would guess that most people who spend any significant time around people who are dying will have their belief in a greater context to life strongly affirmed.