Transitions in Dying and Bereavement, Second Edition

A Psychosocial Guide for Hospice and Palliative Care

By Victoria Hospice Society, and Wendy Wainwright, M.Ed., and Marney Thompson, M.A.

ISBN 978-1-938870-65-1
7 x 10 paper
376 pages
© 2017

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Product Description

2017 AJN Book of the Year Awards 3rd Place logoHelp guide patients and families through difficult end-of-life experiences with this compassionate, strengths-based approach from a team of expert counselors.

In the new edition of this unique professional resource, hospice and palliative care team members—especially social workers and counselors—will find the empirical evidence and compassionate approaches needed to provide excellent holistic psychosocial care to individuals who are dying or bereaved. Encompassing the journey through diagnosis, treatment, recurrence, palliative care, and bereavement, this guide describes appropriate interventions for each of the key transitions that most dying patients and their families face. Social workers, counselors, and other team members share their personal reflections and experience from doing this work, and provide examples of ways to support the whole care team.

With practical resources in every chapter, this guide provides:

  • An overview of common major challenges to the healthcare team and ways to support staff
  • Important considerations for each transition
  • Intervention recommendations, case studies, and reflective activities
  • Assessment questions suited to each transition
  • Palliative Performance Scale to evaluate physical and psychosocial function at progressive stages

Social workers, counselors, physicians, nurses, allied health professionals, and volunteers working in hospice and palliative care will find these approaches essential in their work with death, health, bereavement, and grief.

PRACTICAL RESOURCES IN EVERY CHAPTER: Palliative Performance Scale, transition linked assessment questions, intervention recommendations, case studies, and reflective activities.

Format: E-book
e-ISBN 978-1-938870-68-2

E-book available through:

Signposts: Principles, Values, and Assumptions

Chapter 1:
Establishing the Framework: Integration of Psychosocial and Palliative Care

  • Perspective: Social Work/Counseling Competencies in Hospice Palliative Care

Chapter 2:
Beginning the Journey: Early Diagnosis and Treatment

  • Perspective: Psychosocial Assessment

Chapter 3:
The Path Not Chosen: Recurrence and Chronic Illness

  • Perspective: Cultural Competency

Chapter 4:
Entering the Unknown: The Shift Toward Hospice and Palliative Care

  • Perspective: Intimacy and Sexuality

Chapter 5:
The Long and Winding Road: Illness Predominates

  • Perspective: Dying Children and Youth

Chapter 6:
Watching and Waiting: As Death Approaches

  • Perspective: Suffering and Despair

Chapter 7:
The Parting of the Ways: Time of Death

  • Perspective: Support for the Hospice and Palliative Care

Chapter 8:
Walking the Edges: When a Death Occurs

  • Perspective: Thoughts and Emotions

Chapter 9:
Entering the Depths: Integrating the Loss

  • Perspective: Grief: It’s Complicated (2-3% of the time)

Chapter 10:
Reconnecting with the World: Mending the Heart

Afterword: The Last Word

Transitions in Dying and Be… by on Scribd

Victoria Hospice is a relatively large hospice palliative care and bereavement program in a community of approximately 375,000 (Victoria, British Columbia). Founded in 1980, it has a staff of approximately 116 full-time, part-time, and casual (on-call) staff and more than 300 active volunteers. It is a registered charity that provides end-of-life care, education, and research focused on palliative treatment. Its nurses, counselors, spiritual caregivers, physicians, and trained volunteers provide comfort for the patient and support for the family rather than a cure for progressive and life-limiting illness. Care is offered in patients’ homes, within a 17-bed in-patient unit, and as specific medical consultation to patients in other healthcare facilities. Victoria Hospice also offers bereavement support to families for up to one year following a death.

Mission: To enhance the quality of life for those facing advancing illness, death, and bereavement through skilled and compassionate care, education, research, and advocacy.

Wendy Wainwright, M.Ed., has been working in the area of psychosocial palliative care locally, regionally, and nationally for more than 30 years. She has been based at Victoria Hospice since 1983, beginning as a community counselor, then bereavement coordinator and manager of counseling services before becoming Director of Clinical Services. She is administrator for nursing and psychosocial services, overseeing a staff of RNs, LPNs, nursing unit assistants, counselors, social workers, and a spiritual care coordinator who work in cooperation with other clinical and non-clinical employees and volunteers to serve both patients and families from registration to bereavement. She has a bachelor’s degree in sociology and a master’s of education in counseling psychology. She has developed staff and volunteer training programs for VHS and education materials for patients, families, and professionals. Ms. Wainwright is the author of numerous professional journal articles on counseling activities, child and parent support groups, and young people and death.

Marney Thompson, M.A., has worked in various roles at Victoria Hospice since 1990, including as a volunteer, a group facilitator, and counselor, and is currently Bereavement Program Coordinator. She has a bachelor’s degree in child and youth care and a master’s degree in human and social development. An experience conference presenter of psychosocial palliative topics, she is also the author of various publications on bereavement published by the Victoria Hospice Society.


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“Rooted in science and grounded by the practical approach and clinical experience of the authors, the inestimable value of [this book] is enlivened by narrative vignettes that offer fruits to nurture readers. It is a wise and generous resource for clinicians in practice, students, and people who are themselves dealing with life-limiting illness and want to delve deep within the science and art of psychosocial and spiritual care.”
Ira Byock, M.D., Author of Dying Well and co-founder, Life’s End Institute: Missoula Demonstration Project

Transitions in Dying and Bereavement sets a new standard of excellence in books on palliative care counseling. [It is] a unique work that is both scholarly and wise and compassionate and deeply moving. This book is a gift to anyone who wants to truly serve the dying and those who love them.”
Rachel Naomi Remen, M.D., Author of Kitchen Table Wisdom and My Grandfather’s Blessings

Transitions in Dying and Bereavement is an important and useful resource that will support our efforts in guiding patients and their families through the many complexities associated with the dying and bereavement process. All members of my hospice team will benefit from the empathic wisdom and practical advice offered.”
Barry K. Baines, M.D., Associate Medical Director, Hospice of the Twin Cities, and author of Ethical Wills: Putting Your Values on Paper