If given a choice, many of us would choose to die at home. But the reality is that a home death is not as easy as a home birth. Inevitably there are obstacles that could defeat the goal of honouring a loved one’s request. Even accomplished health professionals can be challenged by the experience. Autumn’s Grace is a story about overcoming such obstacles. It’s a hero’s journey, and the heroes are the siblings who make a home death possible.
Autumns’ Grace spans a ten-month period as the Campbell family comes to terms with the father’s diagnosis of pancreatic cancer. The adult children (two nurses, veterinarian, and teacher) confront a health care system they thought they knew, and familial relationships they have successfully avoided for decades. Generational pulls and career conflicts challenge the siblings as they support their parents, conduct their own family and professional lives, and are forced to face critical situations and decisions together.
Autumn’s Grace documents a family’s love as its members make their way through the experience of a cancer diagnosis, treatment, palliative care, and death. They muddle through with varying doses of tenacity, courage, humour and hope…always hope.
An important criticism of the health care system, Autumn’s Grace is a powerful commentary on the need for well-organized and well-funded palliative care in private homes and in residential hospices. Autumn’s Grace is a gift to people who would like to be prepared as they help fulfill the final wishes of a family member or friend. It’s also an excellent case study for students enrolled in health sciences.