In her book, Peaceful Passage, Kim West draws on her personal experiences as her mother’s caregiver during the last months of her life. This book is a guideline for anyone facing the same situation. But it’s more than a guideline. For those of us who are currently walking this journey, it’s a lifeline. Kim addresses every possible issue that one might face as the caregiver of a dying loved one. From choosing the right hospice team for your loved one and for you, to planning the funeral to moving through the grieving process, she has left nothing out.
Using the analogy of taking a sailing trip, Kim titles the main caregiver the “Captain of the ship,” as this person will be responsible for most of the caregiving decisions. As you “set sail,” she offers invaluable advice on how to organize your loved one’s bedroom for their utmost comfort, but also for the caregiver’s convenience. She lists the basics of caregiving; when to call the hospice nurse for advice and help; the emotions your loved one may be feeling and how to deal with those emotions, as well as your own. No topic is omitted, not even the very difficult ones of planning the funeral and moving through the grief process.
In addition to the excellent advice and the open, honest sharing of her own experience, Kim has included a short workbook with questions at the end of each chapter. The questions allow the caregiver to list plans and arrangements for their specific situation. One of the most important things a caregiver can do to help themselves sail this journey is to keep a journal. Kim has thoughtfully provided a journal page at the end of each workbook.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that the spiritual aspects of this journey are also addressed in Peaceful Passage. In chapter ten, “The North Star will Guide You” we are reminded that we do not take this voyage alone. Not only will God guide our loved one on this final voyage, but he will sail with us, too. By applying the practical advice Kim offers, and following God on this voyage, we can be ensured of a Peaceful Passage for our loved one, ourselves and our family.
Kim’s website for Peaceful Passage: