There are many reasons someone writes a book. I admit that I never thought I would. David told me he thought I would write one, and our hospice nurse was sure of it. At the time of David’s death I was too exhausted to ever imagine living it all again and writing it. My earlier blog discussed the value of writing, indeed the book is proof as well. The writing of the story helped me organize my thoughts, sort through my emotions, and focus on the lessons I learned along the way. It also allowed me to record the things I never want to forget, and the things I never want our family to forget.
I first spoke about my experience to an audience again without David six months after his death. I never thought I could do it alone, after all we were a pair through the whole journey. There was a big hole on the stage next to me, but I went forward and took a risk. I shared my story and to my surprise found an audience that cared and was interested. I also found all the tricks David taught me on how to transfer my emotion to the audience so I could get through it without breaking down worked. This positive experience, followed by many others the past two years, and much encouragement gave me strength and courage.
My dream is that this book gets into the hands of family members caring for someone with terminal illness. The millions of caregivers who feel alone, isolated, guilty, crazy, and grief stricken. I just want them to know their feelings are normal, that they are not alone with them and not the first one to have them. I want to validate them. I want them to discover some of the legacies we found in the process, and to redefine hope in the nightmare of their life. If I can bring comfort to one caregiver, my effort has been valuable.
I also dream this book gets into the hands of those healthcare professionals caring for patients with serious illness. That they learn that serious illness, especially cancer, is a family disease, and that a family needs treatment. I hope they learn the importance of listening to family, of inviting them to participate in the care, of asking their opinions and experience, and of asking them their preferences and goals as well as the patient. If healthcare professionals would only invite family to be a part of the team, and welcome them and all their questions and needs, there is no doubt patients would receive better care, and families would have an easier journey.
It is my hope you will take a few hours and share my journey- then share it with others. This book is my effort to “Deprive Death of Its Strangeness” in honor and devotion to David B. Oliver.