A profoundly moving account of an oncology nurse’s conversations with the dying
In Radical Acts of Love, Janie Brown, oncology nurse of thirty years and counsellor of cancer patients with terminal diagnoses, recounts twenty conversations she has had with the dying; including those personally close to her. Each conversation uncovers a different perspective and experience of death, while at the same time exploring its universalities.
As well as offering an extremely sensitive and wise insight into our final moments, Brown offers practical ways to facilitate the shift from feeling helpless about death to feeling hopeful; from fear to acceptance; from feeling disconnected and alone, to becoming part of the wider, collective story of our mortality.
“For a book that concerns itself with so many ways of coming to terms with death, this remarkable book is hugely life-affirming. It makes you think not just of how you might want to approach death, but of how you might want to live. These conversations from the heart of dying are bold, gracious, often witty and full of love. They accompany you in the dark. Then they let the light in”
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“A book about love as much as it is about death … This is a glorious book that I would not hesitate to give to anyone facing an unwelcome diagnosis or prognosis of their own or of a loved one. It is kind and practical. . I learned so much and feel glad that it exists and convinced that many people will be helped by Brown’s generous sharing of more than 30 years’ experience of working with the dying”
“Brown is a deeply compassionate and sensitive interlocutor and these accounts brim with humanity … Insightful, wise and life-affirming, Brown’s book teaches us that sharing someone’s final weeks is perhaps the most radical act of love we can offer”
“Janie Brown demonstrates the power of a book to transform, in fact to turn things upside down. She turns death into life, despair into hope, sorrow into joy and pain into love with these twenty astonishing encounters with the dying … Unforgettably wise, kind and wonderful”
“Brown’s writing can be elegant and powerful … The book reframes what it means to heal, which we usually associate with recovery and, therefore, the continuation of life”
Janie Brown was born in Epsom, England, and raised in Scotland from the age of four. She has a Masters in Psychology at St Andrews University, and a Masters in Nursing at the University of British Columbia, Vancouver, Canada. She has worked for more than thirty years as an oncology nurse and counsellor, and in 1995 founded the Callanish Society, a grassroots non-profit organisation for people living with, and dying from, cancer, based in Vancouver (callanish.org). She presents nationally and internationally, has published in professional journals, and writes a widely read blog.
‘If you were ill and I couldn’t be with you, don’t worry, I would FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, phone, write letters, send videos and anything else I could think of to tell you how much I love you, and what an amazing mum you have been to me.’
Janie Brown is the author of Radical Acts of Love – a moving account of her conversations with the dying during her thirty years as an oncology nurse. She has joined the Letters Live campaign #ReadALetter, reading a letter she’s written to her mum.