Book Reviews

Voices from the Hospice – staying with life through suffering and waiting

Bob Whorton

SCM Press 2015 ISBN number 978-0-334-05426-9

This is a fascinating book that offers a number of insights into the complexity of the relationship between professional carers and their patients, along with those close to them, as end of life approaches.  The mixture of theological exploration of biblical psalms, patient stories and personal reflection gives the book both depth and an honest realism about the nature of dying that is not found in other writing about hospice care.


The book is based on the concept of life as an inexorable journey by train, on which we are all passengers, getting on and off at various and different stations as we move through our lives towards death.  This works well in holding the different strands of the book together and encourages the reader to cross some of the artificial boundaries we put in place between patient and professional carer.


The book is a stimulating and challenging read and merits being read in small chunks rather than in one sitting.  The content also invites the reader to take time to reflect on their own journey both as a person caring for the dying and as an individual on that very journey.  It is an overtly “Christian” book and its religious (in the broadest sense) content may mean that it is not read as widely as it deserves to be, beyond those directly involved in chaplaincy and spiritual care.  This would be a shame as there is much of relevance to nursing and medical staff involved in all aspects of end of life care, particularly around the importance of self-awareness and self-care.