Roger Woodruff – Formerly Director of Palliative Care, Austin Health, Melbourne, Australia. Past Chairman, IAHPC.

Sally Cant works in Melbourne, Australia and describes herself as ‘a Trainer, Author, Celebrant, Family Death Care Advocate, and a passionate advocate for end of life choices.’

In the introduction, it states this book is meant for the general public as a tool: to start those conversations about death and dying and to have a general understanding of what’s happening in the field of ‘death care.’ But I thought there was a lot more.
She starts with a good discussion of reasons why you should have the conversation and the risks of not having it; I would have liked to hear a little more about how one might deal with poor or bad outcomes. The text is easy to read with a generous use of headings and lots of lists. There follows a quite comprehensive description of all aspects of end of life care, including the many options that ordinary people may not know about. Palliative care gets a good airing, as well as some of its potential shortcomings. She discusses assisted dying, expressing the opinion that she hoped there might be greater individual autonomy when her turn came, but admitting that safeguards were inadequate or impossible at the present time. There is a good section about what happens after the death, which include a number of truths about the funeral industry and what your options are to get round them. Her chapters on grief and bereavement include lists of suggestions for self-care, which I thought could be very useful. Having provided all this extra information, she then revisits ‘having the conversation.’

I think this book fulfils its goal and provides a large amount of information in a manner that could be understood by the average reader. For people who work in palliative care, it provides a pretty good catalogue of the problems that may occur and may help us better deal with them. There are a few small points that refer specifically to local laws, but the great bulk of the book is about human beings and how they interact with death and dying and is pertinent to any developed country.
Roger Woodruff (December 2016)