Foreword Reviews

Awake at the Bedside

Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End-of-Life Care

This is an invaluable spiritual resource for those confronting end-of-life challenges.

Awake at the Bedside: Contemplative Teachings on Palliative and End-of-Life Care, edited by Koshin Paley Ellison and Matt Weingast, is a collection of poems, meditations, and instructive thoughts on both death and life.

The prospect of death can bring out the worst in humanity, but, as this collection shows, it can, and perhaps even should, also bring out what’s best about humankind: compassion, empathy, deep thought, and spiritual peace. The pieces in this book come from famous authors, like Rumi and Naomi Shihab Nye, and lesser-known but vitally insightful writers, spiritual thinkers, physicians, and caregivers.

Far from a practical how-to, this volume helps caregivers, spiritual leaders, and even people facing their own illnesses and aging, to process their feelings and develop their thoughts about death—what it means, and how to fully care for those who are dying—and, most beautifully, what it means to fully live.

While there are many resources about caregiving and illness, this one handles the vital task of making sense out of difficult situations on a heart-and-soul level. The voices in this book dispel the fear that can come with facing the questions that accompany health challenges. The wisdom and simple presence of these writers can walk with those facing illness and death as they journey deeper to find truths in their own lives, minds, and hearts.

The editors have a Buddhist background, as do many of the volume’s contributors, but the book is open and welcoming to people from all belief systems, and offers the peaceful, meditative spirit that’s at the heart of Buddhism. Some contributors also share thoughts from other faith backgrounds.

This is a highly valuable, life-enriching read for familial caregivers, hospice professionals, chaplains, those living with a terminal illness, and anyone else who’s staring down illness or death—whether their own or someone else’s, whether for the first time or the hundredth.

Awake the Bedside is a needed contribution to conversations about aging, especially as the older population in the United States grows.

Reviewed by Melissa Wuske

Disclosure: This article is not an endorsement, but a review. The author of this book provided free copies of the book to have their book reviewed by a professional reviewer. No fee was paid by the author for this review. Foreword Reviews only recommends books that we love. Foreword Magazine, Inc. is disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255.

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