Book Review: Peaceful Passage (Kim West PhD)

As I began reading Kim West’s Peaceful Passage I have to admit I was emotionally transported to the past.

The full title of Kim’s book is what lured me to want –no have– to read it; even before I had read the summary.

Peaceful Passage: The essential guide to navigating the emotional storms and daily logistics of an at-home end-of-life journey.

Peaceful Passage.

In the corner of my mind, where the best and worst of memories are neatly tucked, Kim’s words rang loudly. With each word I relived my mother’s own end-of-life journey in 2006, all the while wishing that I had had Kim’s book during those heart-wrenching days.  Sadly, my sister and I (and our combined seven children) were not able to share a the end-of-life journey as depicted in Kim’s book. After years battling the evil cancer and enjoying almost a year being cancer-free, my mother received the horrible news: the cancer had returned.

The following week chemo treatments began –again. On the third day of the first week, her experience with the chemo and the horrendous pain tore our hearts out. Massive doses of morphine did nothing to even slightly ease the pain. The fourth day of the first week as a fairly good day. She ate (something she rarely wanted to or could do). The fifth day was a nightmare. The pain was back, a full vengeance against her body –and her will.

I remember her saying aloud, “Lord, if it is going to get worse than this, I won’t be able to take it.”

Later that same day (the fifth day) my sister and I were told that she “might” have eight months. She died almost two hours later.  While my family was with her throughout her battle, we were not able to experience the end-of-life journey in the same sense as what one expects with a hospice setting. Still, so many of the struggles and trials Kim writes about are similar to what we experienced.

Whether you have a loved one who is currently in the last stages of life, or even if you’ve already had to say goodbye, Peaceful Passage is more than a helpful read. Sure, it opened some emotions that I thought were already resolved, but I found that by the end of the book I had experienced the emotions that lead to a real, lasting healing process that I seemed to have been deprived six years ago.

Readers will appreciate Kim’s sharing of her personal experience with her mother’s at-home end-of-life journey. I know I did. I also found the resource listing and journal areas beneficial –even today.

Terminal illness takes so much out of the patient and the family. Having access to resources such as Peaceful Passage gives insight and fosters strength in times when even the slightest ounce of strength seems out of reach. I can see this book as a source for individual and their families, but it also has everything needed to become a trusted and recommended resource by doctors, therapists, and hospice organizations.

About the author: Kim West holds a PhD in Clinical Pastoral Counseling and a M.Div. in Counseling and Family, but when her own mother became ill with terminal cancer she found that she had no hands-on knowledge of how to take care of her.

As a counselor she knew to journal her own experience to help her process her grief at losing her mother and she knew how to help her mother finish her life well and be prepared for the life to come. But the day-to-day of taking care of her mother as she died would require learning a whole new set of caring skills. And learn she did.

After completing her own journey with her mother she knew she had to help others who would travel this same path. Peaceful Passage is a merging of her years of counseling experience and the new skills she learned caring for her mother combined with her heart to help and to heal.

Learn more about Kim at:
Kim’s website:
Kim on Facebook:

Book Details:Paperback: 240 pages
Publisher: New Heart Publishing; 1st edition (September 10, 2010)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0984052666
ISBN-13: 978-0984052660