Certain to become a popular classic March 16, 1999
Fran Johns book “Dying Unafraid” is certain to become a popular classic. The book speaks to all of us, regardless of our prior persuasion on the subject of dying. It succeeds by avoiding any and all positions based upon dogma or “expert” insight.
The book is based upon the premise that dying is a uniquely personal matter, a singular experience, hence not subject to benefit from our own experience. The only experience likely to provide some possible insight into how we feel or react when this event is immediately upon us, is the experience of others who have managed to die unafraid or helped others in the process. The author has a well honed talent for relating the stories of real people, stories which touch upon the many aspects of dying: what the dying person brings to the experience, the role of family and friends, of the physician, and of the chosen environment. Johns reaches the reader by virtue of her personal involvement with many of the people about whom she writes. This is not the work of a “researcher” of other people’s views on the matter, but of a dedicated hospice volunteer. She has thought deeply about the subject and our different reactions to it, based upon personal involvement.
She does a particularly fine job of exploring the matter of assisted dying, not as a strident advocate of one position or another, but by providing us with the context in which this most difficult of all decisions must be made. Of particular interest to me was the observation, that in the not too distant past, the “family doctor” was part of the family and considerations of liability and legal implications did not enter into the decision making process. Most likely a lifelong acquaintance, if not friend, the family doctor was there to help the individual and the family to weigh the alternatives. Thank – people felt more comfortable with making this decision without the pressure of institutional interests entering into the process
In Dying Unafraid, Fran Johns has succeeded in creating for the reader a mental, spiritual and emotional framework within which each of us can contemplate and discuss the roles we must assume and the views we bring to bear on the subject of dying.
Care and concern on a personal level October 7, 1999
I believe, after reading Dying Unafraid, that when my time comes I would like Fran Moreland Johns to be here with me. She is strong, yet compassionate – obviously a take-charge kind of lady – but one who is willing to hold hands and, why not, really cry. Yes. I’ll dial 911 and then call Fran!