I was in the recliner on Thursday afternoon, reading How to Talk with Sick, Dying, and Grieving People. I read an early version of the book, and I heard the workshop that Patrick Riecke gave that led to the book. I wanted to read it through again in order to write this post and to write a review.
Then the phone rang.
It was news of the death of a cousin. One of those good guys who makes you laugh, who provides glue. I called my sisters. And then I sat here to talk to you.
It’s a good and necessary book from a writer with personal and professional experience in talking with people about pain. He’s the Director of Chaplaincy and Volunteer Services at Parkview Health. That’s where I work. He’s my boss and a good friend.
He’s thought through ways that friends can talk with people who are seriously ill, anticipating death, and grieving death. The book offers things to say and not say, steps to take and not take. And he writes in a way that actually is how he would talk with you about these challenges, with stories from his life and his experience.
In the last week, I’ve been close to more difficult death than usual. I stand in rooms as the first waves of grief hit. I pass on the news of the death to friends. I know first hand that death happens, whether or not we understand why. And I know the feeling of having no idea what the next words should be.
But those moments happen to all of us, not just chaplains. It’s worth being prepared to talk about it.
Patrick helps me. So does Patrick’s book.