A description of: Reflections of a Loving Partner: Caregiving at the End of Life
2011 Gold Benjamin Franklin Award (Independent Book Publishers Association, May 23, 2011)
2011 Silver President’s Award for Cover Design (Florida Publishers Association, November 5, 2011)
Reflections of a Loving Partner: Caregiving at the End of Life is a love story and an empowering resource for caregivers. The book describes my five-year journey as a caregiver for my partner, Gil V. Ornelas, who was diagnosed with HIV in 1991 and is also a chronicle of my two-year period of mourning and healing that followed Gil’s death.
Our story unfolds within the structure of a nine-week hospice-training course, and each of the book’s nine chapters, comprised of reflective personal essays that parallel and illustrate essential caregiving strategies, presents valuable lessons in hospice-based caregiving. The retrospective essays are intended to enlighten and inspire caregivers, potential caregivers, and anyone with an interest in caregiving.
Setting: The story, which takes place from 1991-1998, describes Andrew’s struggle to come to terms with Gil’s diagnosis of AIDS and to prepare for and provide Gil with the opportunity to die peacefully at home. Andrew’s enrollment in a nine-week hospice-training program provided him with the tools he needed to achieve his goals.
Characters: Although Gil Victor Ornelas and C. Andrew Martin are the main figures in this love story, Death is the third significant presence in their relationship. Other characters woven in the narrative include participants in the hospice training sessions, friends, neighbors and family; all help illustrate concepts essential to this story.
Structure: Nine lessons are revealed in the nine chapters of the book, and readers have the option of reading the entire book, beginning with Gil’s devastating diagnosis and continuing through his illness and death and Andrew’s grief and healing. However, if a caregiver needs to access any particular aspect of caregiving, the pertinent material is readily available in clearly titled chapters that present information and reflections on: hospice care philosophy; terminal illness; renegotiating intimacy; physical, psychological, social and spiritual domains; advance planning of funeral and obituary; bearing grief and feelings of loss; and navigating the mourning process.
Resolution: Reflections of a Loving Partner: Caregiving at the End of Life is the story of two men in a loving relationship who together confront the challenges of a terminal illness, and how, following Gil’s death, Andrew moves through grief and beyond it, determined to make the valuable lessons of his experience available to others.
Andrew Martin has done a beautiful job of sharing his story of struggle and survival in caring for Gil, his partner who died of AIDS. His description of rituals and ceremonies and his recitation of “remembrance” is clearly articulated through this work. This is a story of hope—taking an unplanned event and turning it into a life’s work of great meaning and promise.
Pam Malloy, RN, MN, OCN, FPCN
ELNEC Project Director
American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN)
In Reflections of a Loving Partner: Caregiving at the End of Life, Andrew Martin draws on his personal experience as well as his professional training to provide a thoughtful, useful and easy to read guide to one of the most difficult challenges any of us will ever face.