Book review – What Dying People Want: Practical Wisdom for the End of Life by David Kuhl

Caidyn's review (1)

What Dying People Want: Practical Wisdom For The End Of Life


CW: death, HIV/AIDS, and cancer

First off, I read this for my practicum because my field instructor and preceptor recommended it. (Aka, my supervisors at the company I’m placed with.) As most of you know, I’m placed with a hospice. All of my clients are in the process of dying because they have a diagnosis of six months or less.

Usually, that’s a bit of a conversation killer. People don’t tend to look on death fondly or want to think about it unless they really have to. I’m no different there.

So, the only reason I’m reading this is because of my lovely supervisors who really know their stuff. I’m glad that I read it, sincerely so. I actually read the last five chapters at practicum one day because my preceptor got a bit tied up doing things.

Second, I sincerely think that everyone should read this book. We all have to face death in our lives. It’s a natural and normal part of it. And this book really gets down the important things for those who have a life-shortening illness. This gives us the tips of what’s important to know.

This book is geared towards physicians and the people who are in the dying process. (And, I say dying process because they are expected to pass soon, but they are not actively passing away. It’s not imminent. The fun particulars you learn in this job!) However, as a social worker and someone who will use this in personal and work life, it gives so many important things. Such as, lessening waiting time, the importance of physical touch, helping someone review their life and speak their truth, and discovering who they are.

I found this book extremely helpful, too. It provides prompts to help people talk about their lives, even if it brings out emotions that can make them and us uncomfortable. Not only that, but it just tells you how important presence is for that person.

Basically, it’s just important. We all will know people who are dying and we all will die. It just helps us keep in mind how to keep treating them as a person rather than this thing that we don’t know what to do with.

In my own practicum, the last thing I think about is the fact that this person in front of me is dying. Seriously. I consider it and I keep it in mind since there are things we have to guide them towards — such as, legal issues, funerals, burial or cremation, etc — but when I look at the person in front of me, I don’t think that they’re going to be dead or this could be the last time I could see them. They’re just a person who deserves my care and then I let them tell me what they need help with.

I know this review is rambly, but I found this book so important for my future practice and just life in general. It can be hard to read, but it’s just so informative.

3 thoughts on “Book review – What Dying People Want: Practical Wisdom for the End of Life by David Kuhl

    • This review is definitely one that’s gotten the least likes, and I think that shows, in some ways, not wanting to talk or think about it. (Also, it was Saturday when it was published so people were doing other things.)

      But, thank you! Being around people who are in the dying process puts a different perspective to life.


  1. Pingback: October wrap-up – BW Reviews

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