The whole idea and reality of death is part of life that everyone will face at a certain point in their lives. It is widely believed that there are only two certainties in this life: taxes and death. Death comes to anyone no matter your status in life, you may be in the deepest, most impoverished state of life, eating less than three meals a day and barely surviving each day, or you may be one of the one percent who barely lifts their finger for at least a whole lifetime, death will surely come knocking your way at one point or another. It is inevitable, and it is indeed quite scary.
‘My Way: One Nurse’s Passion for End of Life’ by Joy Nugent opens a different perspective towards the whole notion of death. It details Nugent’s journey on being an end-of-life nurse, working with the elderly as they slowly maneuver life until the very end. Here, she shares her stories from the bedside, the vibrant and interesting lives she got to know and take care of, overall making the readers feel as if they were there, that they, too, witness what it is like to see through ailing bodies and fading memories. And that is what the author wants every reader to feel. In this book, Nugent aims to share her very own model inspired by Elisabeth Kübler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychiatrist who believed that a person is divided into quadrants: the physical need, the intellectual need, the emotional need, and the spiritual need, of what it is to be a hospice nurse as a way to distinguish the person beyond flesh and bones, but also souls who have lived a full life and are now transferring to a new one.
Joy Nugent is a mother of four children and a wife of a successful orthodontist. She has been around the world, traveling and working as a nurse in different countries, then settling down with his husband orthodontic clinic and playing golf on the weekends in Adelaide. It seemed that life was smooth sailing for Nugent until she found out that her mother had been diagnosed with cancer. As she was aiding her throughout the last leg of her life, it was clear to Joy that she wanted to return to nursing. Seeing the last stages of life through the personification of her mother pushed her to set up her private nursing practice to offer the type of care to other patients that she had given to her mother. She had done this for three decades and is now involved in palliative education both in her home country, Australia, and Malaysia. After 30 years of marriage, Joy and her husband decided that it was best for them to go their separate ways. Albeit difficult, she did not let the divorce be a roadblock to what she was paving, and instead, she gained financial independence because of the whole situation.
Through ‘My Way: One Nurse’s Passion for End of Life,’ readers will see the importance of a flexible and a more holistic approach in palliative care, how a connection is important to alleviate death anxiety, to gladly accept the innate concept of death instead of fearing or hiding from it. Joy Nugent wants the readers to see life in her shoes as she puts it, “When a person is viewed as a soul with a body rather than primarily a body with maybe a soul, attitudes to life and death change. The soul is energy and energy can never be destroyed.”