Many of us are uncomfortable talking about death; it can certainly be a scary topic, especially if you or someone you know is facing a terminal illness. Yet there is a measure of comfort that can be found in understanding what’s to come, in facing the fear head-on and exploring your feelings. What’s more, there is comfort in knowing more—more about what happens to a body once life has left it, more about how to handle the grief of losing someone, more about next steps. If you give your fears names and context, they become less scary.
These scary topics and more are covered in Barbara Karnes excellent treatise on death and dying— “Gone from My Sight, the Dying Experience.” A hospice nurse by trade, Karnes published this small, blue pamphlet in 1985 and it has been an essential tool for hospice patients and their families since then. Still in print, “Gone from My Sight” can be purchased for a mere $2 on Amazon —it is worth that money and more. This short little booklet is simple, direct and truly a powerhouse when it comes to emotional and informational value; among the plethora of grieving resources, this one stands the test of time and utmost utility.
The truth is that even if we venture into talking about death, we rarely get too literal with our conversation. We may explore hypotheticals, think about how we may react or feel, but not the details. We won’t wonder, for example, how breathing slows or hitches as someone is dying; we may not know what to do if our loved one suddenly refuses to eat or how to interpret their gestures. The truth is no matter how much you talk about it, you won’t be prepared—after all, how can someone ever be prepared for such a monumental loss?—but you will have some indispensable knowledge and maybe even peace of mind when that moment comes.
While we, of course, hope that this is not a book you have to read anytime soon, when there is need, this is an indispensable resource for you and your family. Trust this little blue book to offer solace and advice as it has done for families and patients for over thirty years.
Have you read or come across Gone from My Sight? If you have personal experience, please feel free to share in the comments.