Dr Catherine Proot 

Psychotherapy and Supervision


IAHPC's Book of the Month, November 2014

Life to be lived
Challenges and choices for patients and carers in life-threatening illnesses

Catherine Proot and Michael Yorke

Oxford University Press, 2014. 160 pp. ISBN 978-0-19-968501-1

  • An accessible and candid study of human experience in major illnesses and end-of-life care, evidenced and illustrated by real life case stories

  • Provides a clear description of the reality of illness and caring, highlights the challenges and choices involved, and encourages therapeutic practice

  • Written by specialists who work in palliative care settings and bereavement counselling, it is a masterful integration of the psychological, social, and spiritual, offering an understanding of these crucial facets of the holistic approach to working with people in end of life care

How do people face life-limiting illness and death? This challenging question is discussed in-depth in Life to be Lived by looking at the feelings, hopes, fears and stresses associated with life-threatening illnesses, often experienced by patients and their carers. 

Drawn from research, clinical, and pastoral experiences, the authors examine the process of adjustment that patients and their families go through in major illnesses and when approaching the end of life.  Life to be Lived is written in an accessible style using many stories shared by counsellors, chaplains, patients and relatives. 

Describing the messiness, uncertainties, and paradoxes that are part and parcel of living through an advanced illness, dying, and bereavement, but also what helps and heals, the book reviews a range of responses to the challenges to patients and carers and the support available, both personal and organisational. 

Life to be Lived is essential reading for professionals and trained volunteers who work as part of multidisciplinary teams in palliative and end-of-life care, to improve their understanding of the attitudes and behaviour of patients and carers. Families and friends will also benefit from it as they try to come to terms with their own situations and how they can cope better with them.

Table of Contents
Part 1: The patient experience
1: The challenge of illness and pain
2: All may not be lost
3: Trials and adjustment
4: Towards a changed outlook
Part 2 : The impact on family carers
5: Demands on the family
6: Lives taken over
7: Coping with change
8: Some personal consequences for the carer
Part 3: The professional carers and their roles
9: Challenges for the professional carer
10: The power and limitations of words
11: Talking with patients
12: Chaplaincy and spiritual care
Part 4: Boundaries and resources
13: Blurred boundaries
14: A wealth of resources
Part 5: The next step
15: The next step
  • This book is about the suffering associated with life-threateneing illness, how some patients and their families seem to manage better, and how good holistic care (with an emphasis on the spiritual aspects of that care) provided by the professional carers may help ameliorate that suffering.   Anyone who works in palliative care will be better off for having read this book and reflected on what it says in the context of their own work. - Roger Woodruff, IAHPC News​


  • This publication offers an inspiring way for people in contemporary society to review death as part of life. - David Oliviere, St Christopher's Hospice

  • A work of outstanding quality and deep insight with a remarkable range of personal stories, many of them moving, which bring the book to light. The text is sensibly accessible, with bite-sized chapters and straightforward language, never patronising, over technical or 'I know best'. - Richard Worsley​

  • This book is probably intended for professionals working with terminally ill patients, but as one of those patients, I found it very helpful and thought-provoking. It helped me to analyse some negative feelings which I did not want to reveal to anyone, especially my devoted carers. - DJ Robinson

  • This is a valuable resource for all health professionals and a very readable text for everyone. It will provide déjà vu moments for many and enormous help to those facing life-altering illness close at hand for the first time. There is now a copy in the practice library. - Dr. C.M. Lockwood​

Further publications

Quand la notion du temps est bouleversée
Catherine Proot, Pastoralia, N°3, Mars 2018, pp. 14-15
Bereavement: Questions and Answers
Interview with Catherine Proot PhD, News, St Nicholas Hospice Care, Spring 2015, p. 6
Life’s uncertain voyage
Catherine Proot and Michael Yorke explore how living with uncertainty affects all at the bedside when the circumstances involve serious illness.  OUP Blog,  posted 19th September 2014    
Rekindling life skills 
Catherine Proot, Bereavement Coordinator at St Nicholas Hospice Care, explains how bereavement activity groups are helping participants to learn new skills, to feel more confident and to renew their taste for lifeEAPC blog posted on September 7th, 2014
Do we only die once ? 
Article by Catherine Proot & Michael Yorke, Inside Palliative Care, Volume 27, March 2014, pp. 24-25.     
Palliative Care : Who Cares ?
Catherine Proot & Michael Yorke explore the burden and the need for care towards the end of life, OUP Blog posted July 15 2013,     
Beyond Talking Therapy : Diverse Bereavement Support
Poster presentation by Catherine ProotBritish Medical Journal Supportive and Palliative Care, Volume 1 Issue 2, September 2011.    
The ingredients of coping with grief 
Catherine Proot, Bereavement Coordinator at St Nicholas Hospice Care, describes their pilot project of a cooking group for the bereaved, Hospice Information Bulletin Volume 8 Issue 3, August 2011.    

© Copyright 2017 - Catherine Proot PhD

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