Interested in reading more? Our team recommend …

Papadatou, D. (2009) In the Face of Death. Springer Publishing, New York.


In the Face of Death is a really exciting book that explores the experiences of healthcare professionals who care for the seriously ill, the dying, and the bereaved. Professor Danai Papadatou offers theoretical models and case examples from practice to highlight and contextualise the concepts, with suggestions as to how healthcare professionals and care providers cope with their suffering and grief.

The main themes that are explored are:

  • The Caring Relationship focuses on the relationship between the care provider and the person who is dying or grieving, and proposes a new, relationship-based model of care
  • The Care Provider in Death Situations addresses the health professional’s personal responses to death, using a model that illustrates the grieving process of the health professional
  • The Team in the Face of Death provides recommendations for effective, interdisciplinary care services that support dying or bereaved patients as well as the health care provider.

To conclude this book is easy to read and accessible to all care providers, it offers useful insights into compassion fatigue, suffering in the workplace and team resilience. It has been described as ‘nothing short of a masterpiece’ and should be essential reading for all healthcare providers that offer palliative care for children, young people and their families.




Bycock, I (2004) The Four Things That Matter Most: A Book About Living. Free Press, New York. 

Image - Four things that matter most

What would you say to those people who are most important to you, if you knew you were coming to the end of your life?

Ira Byock, a Palliative Care Consultant in the United States, has cared for many patients at end-of-life and he suggests that ‘Please forgive me’, ‘I forgive you’, ‘Thank you’ and ‘I love you’ capture everything important that is needed to be said to anyone in our lives.  He reflects on patients that he has cared for and their stories and proposes that all of us should consider these four phrases if we want to achieve emotional wellness.

Simple insights that have the power to transform the way we think


Fitzmaurice, S (2014) It’s not yet dark. Hachette Books Ireland. (£12.99)

This book is a beautiful read. It’s ultimately life affirming and reflects the very essence of what is means to be alive regardless of disability.  Simon the author was (and still is) is a vibrant Irish man – a husband, father, lover, son and film maker who shares his most illuminating thoughts and allows a glimpse of what it means to live in that chasm of life limiting illness and the unknown impending date for his own death.  At the very peak of his personal timeline, at an unreasonably young age (my words not his), Simon is diagnosed with Motor Neuron Disease (MND) and undergoes profound challenges to live his life fully in the face of ever impending death.

The book is dedicated to love pure and simple. The author challenges us in asking about what it is that motivates us to want to live no matter what. Simon poses the question regarding people’s professional and moral decisions for, or indeed to judge that life for an individual is no longer worthwhile.  It is through this prism that Simon allows us to face our own mortally too and what living means to us.

The book explores key ethical concepts pertinent to palliative care providers including quality of life and suffering and what it means to be alive.  This book will allow you some time to totally immerse yourself to literally walk in this mans shoes and not to judge.  We are shown that quality of life is a deeply personal phenomenon.  To care effectively for others means we must listen to what patients want.  Allow them to be their own or a loved ones own advocate and to understand individual perspectives regardless of prognosis.

Completely encapsulating – an inspiring read for anyone working in palliative care


Byock, I (2013) The Best Care Possible: A Physician’s Quest to Transform Care through the End of Life Penguin Group: New York

Ira Byock

Ira Byock is a Palliative Care Consultant based in the United States. Through case studies and personal insights he advocates for ‘the best care possible’ and sets out to explain to readers what that can mean at end of life.  He presents the reader with facts, real people and prompts us to consider what the future holds for healthcare in 2014.  The areas within end of life that are needed to improve such as shared decision-making, the need to build trust in order to develop therapeutic relationships and person/family centred care are championed enthusiastically. Equally, challenging issues such as the perceived expense of hospice and palliative care services and the value for money they represent are argued with passion and fact.  The book does not avoid the difficult subjects in end of life care such as assisted suicide, with Byock giving his person viewpoint that is considered and perceptive.

Ira Byock’s style of writing is easy to read and accessible which will give fresh insight on end of life scenarios for some readers, while providing reflection for others.  The strength of this book is that it is written by a practising clinical physician which makes the case studies informed and alive.  This authenticity is also evident when he ardently advocates for narrative documentation at end of life which he feels captures the holistic needs of the patient.

Thought-provoking yet easy to read – a great overview of the issues faced by those working in this area

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