Author Hank Dunn writes:
In my sixteen years as a chaplain in both a nursing home and with a hospice program, I have learned some valuable lessons about living in the midst of a life-threatening illness. As difficult as it is, what seems most important is to live each day as fully as possible. I have seen people live a life of meaning and purpose even while severely disabled and seriously ill.
In these few pages I have gathered the most helpful insights these patients have taught me. This book is about finding hope in hopeless situations; being grateful in the midst of great losses; experiencing a connection to things eternal; living a meaningful life while considering the possibility of death; and getting to the root issues in medical treatment decisions.
In my first book, "Hard Choices For Loving People," I outlined some of the medical treatment decisions we might face. But living with a life-threatening illness is more than just medical treatment decisions, so I felt this book was necessary to expand on the emotional and spiritual struggles brought on by disease. In neither book do I try to give medical advice. I recommend discussing medical treatments with your physician and other healthcare professionals familiar with your particular case. I can only write of my experiences with specific medical cases and they may or may not be similar to the circumstances you are facing. All the stories I share are true, but, at times, I have changed names to protect privacy.
Each of these selections is written as a meditation with some thoughts to be pondered. They are meant to be companions for those with a life-threatening illness and their families. At the end of each piece is a thought to carry with you through the day. My hope is that these words will help you live each day fully and that you can go into the future with courage and peace.
Part One — Living Each Day Fully
Hope from a Life of Gratitude
Do Some Things “Just Happen”?
God’s Presence in Spite of the Medical Outcome
Hope for Forgiveness and Reconciliation
Choosing My Response
Fear of Impermanence
Pain and Suffering
Giving Up and Letting Go
Part Two — Walking the Valley of the Shadow of Death
Through the Wilderness
For Everything a Season
“Chaplain, I Don’t Think I Am Ready . . . .”
The Eternal Breaks into Every Day
Between Hope and Reality
Meaningfulness in the Darkest Shadows
Part Three — The Heart and Soul of Medical Decisions
Quality Not Quantity
Shaking Our Fist at God
The Necessity of Grief
Making Decisions for Others
Modern Medicine and “the Enemy”
Willingness to Yield
Part Four — The Journey to Letting Be
Putting It Together
“It Doesn’t Matter”
Idol of Control
Letting Be Is the Next Step
May My Suffering Relieve Someone Else’s
True Solace Is Finding None