Book Review: Peaceful Passage, Kim West, PhD

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:


From Generation to Generation: Blessed Beyond Measure

Seventeen months ago, February 2011, to be exact, my parents left the house they had lived in for almost 43 years and moved in with my sister and her husband. We had a massive yard sale the likes of which their neighborhood had never seen. But that’s a blog for another time.
My parents were not in the best of health when they moved, and over the last year and half, their health has declined even more. My dad uses a walker, with great difficulty. My mom is, for the most part, bedridden. (She may sit in a chair for a few hours a week.) TheyFrom Gare forgetful and get things confused. My dad will be 87 in just a few days. My mom will be 84 in September. They are the older generation—the patriarch and matriarch of our family. They have the wisdom the second and third generations are just now beginning to obtain—wisdom gained from life experiences.
The newest member of our family just celebrated her one month birthday a few days ago. Her name is Zoey Hazel Lyle—Hazel, for my mother. She is absolutely angelic. Beautiful skin, sparkling blue eyes, teeny-tiny bow mouth and a little button nose. All Zoey knows at this time is how to sleep, eat, pee and cry. She has learned if she cries, she gets attention. But that is the extent of her “wisdom.” 
Both of these generations—my mom and dad and Zoey—are living with my sister and her husband presently. This week I’ve had the privilege of staying here with my parents and Zoey and her parents while my sister and her husband take a well-deserved, much-needed vacation.
I have carried out the responsibilities of what my sister has done since my mother became bedridden, about four months ago. I have administered medicines, cooked and served meals, given my mother baths and other things which, if I shared, she would be most unhappy with me. I’ve also given little Zoey her baby medicine, fed her, watched her mommy give her baths, and I’ve rocked her to sleep several times.

        There is something almost spiritual about a newborn. Looking into Zoey’s sweet, cherubic face reminds me of Psalms 139: 13-18:

For you created my inmost being;
you knit me together in my mother’s womb.
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made;
your works are wonderful,
I know that full well.
 My frame was not hidden from you
when I was made in the secret place,
when I was woven together in the depths of the earth.
 Your eyes saw my unformed body;
all the days ordained for me were written in your book
before one of them came to be.

Zoey is young and innocent. When her parents have her dedicated to God, they will promise to raise her up “in the nurture and admonishment of the Lord.” If possible, I will be there and even if I’m not present for her dedication I will pray the prayer that my Bishop prays every Sunday over the children as they are dismissed for Children’s Church: “may there never be a day in Zoey’s life when she does not know You and love You with her whole heart.”

One of the legacies both of my parents will leave for the rest of us is their prayer life, especially their prayers for their children. They rarely miss a night of praying together before “lights out.”  And they name every member of their immediate family. Daughters, sons-in-law, grandchildren, great-grandchildren. Four weeks ago, they added little Zoey’s name. They always mention Angela, my son’s girlfriend, who I expect will someday be his wife. They call out the name of Every. Single. Person. Their minds aren’t quite as sharp as they used to be–-but they never miss a name. If Daddy hesitates over a name, mother will say the name and vice versa.   

To say that our family has been blessed and continues to be blessed beyond measure to have Edward and Hazel Evans as our parents, grandparents and great-grandparents is an understatement. And to say that we are blessed to have Zoey as our newest member is also an understatement.

Let me encourage you today to enjoy and love on your family members. Listen to the elderly and draw from their wisdom. Kiss the babies and hold them close to you. Let their innocence and life bring you back to a place of joy and peace in your own life. You, too, will be blessed beyond measure.