Review of Nina McKissock’s “From Sun to Sun, A Hospice Nurse Reflects the Art of Dying”

From Sun to Sun: A Hospice Nurse Reflects on the Art of DyingFrom Sun to Sun: A Hospice Nurse Reflects on the Art of Dying by Nina Angela McKissock
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

From Sun to Sun, A Hospice Nurse Reflects on the Art of Dying is a beautifully compiled journey through Nina McKissock’s memories as a hospice nurse. The stories are a captivating illustration of the essences of nursing: meeting each patient with compassion and unknowing; balancing joy with suffering; facing grief, anger, and helplessness with dignity; learning and growing through intuition and experience. The patient is described as a client, a friend, and a teacher. McKissock details the honor bestowed by each patient in allowing the nurse to be advocate, confidante, caregiver, healer, and friend as each approaches and accepts death in his or her own way. McKissock is able to reflect upon her own past and present life as she examines each patient’s experiences with their impending death, valuing and respecting each lesson learned. She offers that hospice nursing is more than just treating bodily ailment and pain; it is touching bodies and connecting with hearts and minds, entering into the sacrosanct vulnerability of the last days and hours of human lives with and without their loved ones. Hospice nursing carries concern for “important details not on the chart” such as a beloved pet, long-kept secrets and guilt, family dynamics, cultural and spiritual needs, the patient’s surroundings, and the need for family and friends to self-soothe while administering to the dying patient in their own ways. The end of life is portrayed as more than just a medical event, as there is spiritual and emotional “healing within dying”. Nina McKissock’s memoir describes the necessary counterbalanced boundaries of professionalism, friendship, stewardship, emotions, and tolerance of a hospice nurse. This is an easy, beautiful, and soothing read as each patient rewards you with a life lesson.

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