Saturday, December 22, 2012

The Etiquette of Illness

Here is a book that flew under the radar for a very long time and is now getting its due celebration and appreciation. The book is called, “The Etiquette of Illness” by Susan P Halpern and it is getting a long awaited boost because of its mention in the new book, The End of Your Life Book Club” by Will Schwalbe.

“Book Club" is fabulous in its own right—it’s a memoir and the story of Schwalbe’s mother slowly dying while she and her son read through an amazing list of fabulous books. The story contains mini synopses and reviews of maybe 35 wonderful and little known books. My reading list expanded as I read.

But early in the book a friend recommends that Schwalbe should read, Halpern’s  “Etiquette of Illness” so he can learn how to talk to his mother about her illness, treatments, symptoms and eventual death. I went right to the Internet to learn that “Etiquette” was published in 2004. I found her book at the library and will now buy my own copy. This is a gem of a resource and a book to place right next to Emily Post and Gail Sheehy's book on Caregiving.

Here is one of the simple but brilliant take-aways—to ask an ill person, “May I ask you how you’re feeling today?” Do you see that simple but respectful shift from simply asking them? I loved that. And she has so much more wisdom for caregivers, family, and the person who is ill as well.

You might have to buy a used copy but I’m hoping that the recent mention will get, “The Etiquette of Illness” back in a new edition. Halpern deserves that and we do too.

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