Review of You're Not Dead Til I Say You're Dead
You’re Not Dead Til I Say You’re Dead By Joyce Victor, PhD, RN
Northampton House Press
Joyce Victor weaves her professional knowledge as a nurse, her clinical experiences over time, and her personal exposure to death into a memoir that is warm, sassy, and down-to-earth. Victor shares early experiences with death from her childhood and her first encounters with dying patients while in nursing school. Victor even tackles the ethical issue of suffering, and describes situations where a peaceful death with loved ones present is chosen over medical interventions.
The book is divided into chapters, each of which reflects a specific situation through a person’s story. Quotes from Dickinson and Whitman separate the chapters. Victor’s caring and compassion for her colleagues and patients is evident.
Although medical terminology is used, this is not a clinical text on the dying process. It is a human discussion that expands the technical details of death to universal, philosophical questions. Victor ponders the deeper meaning of “time of death.” Time of death is recorded as an official declaration by a trained medical professional. As Victor shares her thoughts on living and dying, she wonders if “perhaps time of death is not the moment when the body is pronounced dead, but rather the moment I decide to let go of the spirit.”
Victor’s writing is conversational, and she doesn’t shy away from uncomfortable situations such as miscarriage, SIDS, murder, and suicide.
Delaware native Nina Bennett is the author of Sound Effects (2013, Broadkill Press Key Poetry Series chapbook #4). Her poetry has appeared in numerous journals and anthologies such as Kansas City Voices, Big River Poetry Review, Shark Reef, Bryant Literary Review, Yale Journal for Humanities in Medicine, Philadelphia Stories, and The Broadkill Review. Nina was a 2012 Best of the Net nominee. In 2013, Five Bridges, a literary anthology by Nina’s writing group, the Transcanal Writers, was awarded 2cnd place for a poetry book by the Delaware Press Association.