Earlier this year, I, Karen van Vuuren, editor of Natural Transitions Magazine, was sitting in Patricia Kelley’s living room in her modest Victorian-era home. Kelley, a doyenne of the field of end-of-life communication, is mostly known for her first book, Final Gifts, which she co-authored with fellow hospice nurse, Maggie Callanan and published in 1992. Kelley, a cheerful, snowy-haired Brit, who is semi-retired, informed me that her book is still a bestseller, nationally and internationally.
We reflected on the success of Final Gifts. In those days, Kelley’s literary agent pitched it to slew of publishers, auctioning it to the highest bidder. The book’s contents — an expose of what patients are telling us in their dying process — were novel then, and so interest was high. If Kelley’s book were to hit the bookstores for the first time now, we’d find it nestling alongside countless other publications on understanding death and dying. That’s progress!
This issue of Natural Transitions Magazine focuses on “communication.” How we communicate with the dying, and how we communicate with each other around death. “Communication,” derives from the Latin verb “communicare,” meaning to impart, share, or make common. The related noun is “communis, literally “that which is common.” Communis is closely related to the word “community.”
Some wit once said that you can’t have a community without communication. In other words, communication begets understanding and compassion, which begets community. Natural Transitions Magazine is building community through our magazine. We hope you will savor this issue’s illuminating articles on end-of-life communication from educators like Ann Jacob (coma and “unresponsive” states) and Megan Carnarius (dementia from a spiritual perspective), as well as from others who are changing the end-of-life care paradigm.