Official Review: Honest Endings by Katherine Cullen

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diana lowery
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Official Review: Honest Endings by Katherine Cullen

Post by diana lowery »

[Following is an official OnlineBookClub.org review of "Honest Endings" by Katherine Cullen.]
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4 out of 4 stars
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Before reading this book, I pondered over the cover. It features the arm of someone holding a door ajar. Was the arm opening or closing the door? Since the title is Honest Endings, it could symbolize the door to this life is ending, so the door is closing. However, if the author's belief is that there is life after death, it could mean a door opening to a new existence. Katherine Cullen's short book gives an honest look at the ways people deal with death. After reading this book, I believe the author has covered all aspects of both the coming and going at the end of life.

Cullen states that she learns best from hearing others speak of their experiences, and she wanted to write about her career as a hospice social worker with the goal of helping others deal with death. There are five chapters and only 49 pages, but her message is strong. In one way, this is a coming-of-age story because Cullen's three years working for hospice changed her life.

The prologue describes the author's extensive career in social work and explains how she ended up working for hospice in her fifties. In order to deal with death on a daily basis, and not burden her husband with the details, she kept a journal. The stories in her book come from those journals.

My favorite part of the book is the clever way that Cullen's chapter titles have double meanings. "Living with Death" is the first chapter. Although it does have examples of how families deal with the knowledge that one of their members is dying, the chapter is also about how the author had to learn how to cope with exposure to death on a daily basis.

"All the Lonely People" is the saddest chapter. There are stories of patients who died the same way they lived - alone. There are also stories of how family members had to deal with being alone after their loved ones died. However, this title also has a double meaning because it is not only about the dying person, but it is also about how Cullen and other hospice workers were placed in a situation with no training on how to deal with their own grief. Therefore, they became the lonely people. The haunting song by the Beatles is an appropriate title for this section of the book.

"Final Exit", of course, deals with how Cullen's patients left this world, but it also describes her exit as a hospice social worker. Her term, compassion fatigue, explains why she was forced to quit even though she was needed.

Although there are some references to religion and religious practices throughout the book, the last chapter dwells more specifically on the author's revelation and conversion. Readers who do not enjoy hearing these types of reflections might want to skip this chapter. The book has been professionally edited, and there is nothing I did not like. Because there is no profanity or erotic content, I recommend it to all readers. It gave me a better understanding of the role of hospice workers.

I am happy to give Honest Endings four out of four stars. Katherine Cullen has indeed given an honest view of her hospice experience. The book made me remember having to call in hospice when my mother died, and I wished that I had read this book before that happened.

******
Honest Endings
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Post by Vannaskivt »

I work in pediatrics, but with children who are incredibly medically complex. We do a lot of end-of-life work with families and siblings. I would love to read Cullen's book, I'm sure her experience would be very valuable to those of us who are working with families in a similar capacity. Thank you for your great review.

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Post by Pearl Akpan »

Wow. This is intense and very intriguing/insightful. I’m applauding the author for being able to elicit emotions by stories she experienced in real time. It’s crazy living with the knowledge that you’re dying but it’s just as crazy living or working with so much deaths.

All the same, i’m thankful for a very well detailed review. I’m adding this book to my shelf.

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Post by raluca_mihaila »

Unfortunately, we all must learn to deal with death at some time. Thank you for your very insightful review!

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Post by kandscreeley »

Wow! All the lonely people sounds heartbreaking. I don't think I'm ready to read this book. Your review is wonderful, though. Very educative.
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Post by Saint Bruno »

Sounds like a very insightful book with strong messages about life and death
How you make your bed is how you lie on it. Thanks for the great review.

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Post by diana lowery »

Pearl Akpan wrote:
19 Nov 2020, 12:41
Wow. This is intense and very intriguing/insightful. I’m applauding the author for being able to elicit emotions by stories she experienced in real time. It’s crazy living with the knowledge that you’re dying but it’s just as crazy living or working with so much deaths.

All the same, i’m thankful for a very well detailed review. I’m adding this book to my shelf.
I appreciate your coments. At least the author felt like she was prepared for death in her own family.

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diana lowery
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Post by diana lowery »

raluca_mihaila wrote:
20 Nov 2020, 08:09
Unfortunately, we all must learn to deal with death at some time. Thank you for your very insightful review!
True, and even though we might think we are prepared, it doesn't always go the way we had planned.

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diana lowery
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Post by diana lowery »

kandscreeley wrote:
20 Nov 2020, 15:42
Wow! All the lonely people sounds heartbreaking. I don't think I'm ready to read this book. Your review is wonderful, though. Very educative.
Thanks for your comment. Yes, the book is not exactly cheerful, but it is helpful.

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diana lowery
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Post by diana lowery »

Saint Bruno wrote:
21 Nov 2020, 02:01
Sounds like a very insightful book with strong messages about life and death
How you make your bed is how you lie on it. Thanks for the great review.
Yes, I did learn a great deal from reading the book. Thanks for your comment.

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Post by Ayindelaw »

Wow Diana Lowery
Your writing is so smooth. I'm surely going to try to incorporate some things in mine as well. I can't accurately imagine the author's feelings, but I know how death--even that of a person I don't know--makes me feel. I can only commend her for writing this book.
Innovations are usually the result of desperate times

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Post by Slater678 »

I think this is an interesting coming of age story for someone who is already mature. I like the discussed theme of after-life. Thanks for the captivating review.

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Post by diana lowery »

Ayindelaw wrote:
22 Nov 2020, 14:19
Wow Diana Lowery
Your writing is so smooth. I'm surely going to try to incorporate some things in mine as well. I can't accurately imagine the author's feelings, but I know how death--even that of a person I don't know--makes me feel. I can only commend her for writing this book.
Thank you for taking the time to read my review.

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diana lowery
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Post by diana lowery »

Slater678 wrote:
23 Nov 2020, 01:58
I think this is an interesting coming of age story for someone who is already mature. I like the discussed theme of after-life. Thanks for the captivating review.
I appreciate your comments. I guess one is never too old to "come of age" and learn something.

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Post by Sou Hi »

Thanks for your insightful review. This book seems to be a meaningful and heart-felt one despite its short length. I am looking forward to reading it.

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