What Dying People Want

What Dying People Want

What Dying People Want: Practical Wisdom for the End of Life

Kuhl, M.D., David





Facing death results in more fear and anxiety than any other human experience. Though much has been done to address the physical pain suffered by those with a terminal illness, Western medicine has been slow to understand and alleviate the psychological and spiritual distress that comes with the knowledge of death. In What Dying People Want, Dr. David Kuhl begins to bridge that gap by addressing end-of-life realities–practical and emotional–through his own experiences as a doctor and through the words and experiences of people who knew that they were dying.

Dr. Kuhl presents ways of finding new life in the process of dying, understanding the inner reality of living with a terminal illness, and addressing the fear of pain, as well as pain itself. He also offers concrete guidance on how to enhance doctor/patient relationships and hold family meetings, and provides an introduction to the process of life review.

It is possible to find meaning and peace in the face of death. What Dying People Want “helps us learn to view the knowledge of death as a gift, not a curse.” (New Times)

Library Journal

Drawing from case studies that he conducted as part of the Soros Foundation’s “Death in America” project, Kuhl provides a balanced perspective on caring for the terminally ill. An M.D. himself, he acknowledges that doctors sometimes have poor interpersonal skills, and he offers helpful insight into why this is so and how patients can foster better communication. Besides discussing the physician’s account of the clinical aspects of the dying process, Kuhl sensitively examines the harder-to-define psychological and spiritual issues. Unfortunately, he often focuses too much on certain patients whose stories are interesting but perhaps less applicable to the average person. Written for a general audience, this book will also fit well into medical libraries and other healthcare collections. Kuhl’s research makes a good companion to Cynthia Pearson and Margaret L. Stubbs’s Parting Company: Understanding the Loss of a Loved One. [The Soros Foundation, named after Hungarian American philanthropist George Soros, is a group of nonprofit organizations dedicated to creating and sustaining open societies around the world. Ed.] Annette Haines, Art & Design Field Lib., Anne Arbor, MI Copyright 2002 Cahners Business Information.


From The Critics

Drawing on ten years of interviews with terminally ill patients and their families for the Project on Death in America, and literary and other sources of wisdom, a Vancouver, BC physician to cancer patients penetrates the denial shrouding death in our culture. Dr. Kuhl gives advice on improving communication and palliative care for psychological and spiritual as well as physical pain. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR


This book is a great starting place for people overwhelmed with the concept of death and mortality. It’s not deeply philosophical, but it’s what it claims to be: practical. I recommend this to pretty much anyone who hasn’t given death and dying much thought and would like to begin decreasing their anxiety over this process. It also offers practical solutions and steps to take to wrap up your life in a way that makes dying seem less tragic and abrupt, and if that isn’t worth a gander, I don’t know what is.





Posted on

February 18, 2015