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You’re Not Dead ‘til I Say You’re Dead: A Nurse's Reflections on Death, Dying and the Near-Death Experience is a memoir focusing on the author’s experiences with death and dying as a registered nurse, witness and survivor. Framed by her own near-death experience, Victor guides the reader through a series of narratives on end of life issues and rarely discussed topics such as suicide, SIDS, and miscarriages. First-hand accounts and anecdotes, strung together by personal memories, take you into the mind of the nurse and behind the scenes of caring for the dead, the dying and the grieving. Each story is told candidly with humor, irony, science, and, of course (spoiler alert), someone dying.

Joyce Victor is a registered nurse, a mom, a writer, a teacher and a scholar. She earned Masters degrees in health administration, creative writing, and nursing from Wilkes University and a PhD from Duquesne University. She served on an ethics committee for 15 years and was active in the implementation of the Patient Self-Determination Act, legislation mandating healthcare institutions to provide information on advance directives and living wills. She is the author of numerous articles on the topics of nursing education and simulation and has been published in several scholarly journals. You’re Not Dead ‘til I Say You’re Dead is her first full-length book. Despite her obsession with death and dying, she is actually an upbeat person who enjoys life.

Cover by Naia Poyer

As an editor, I read nursing articles all day, but in the evening I like to read novels—books with a powerful story that will keep my interest. You’re not Dead ‘til I say you’re Dead did just that. (I could not put this book down). Chapters describe Dr. Victor’s personal experiences with death throughout her nursing career and her life, beginning with her own near-death experience. Many readers will gain new knowledge from the book, as I did, but I think the main outcome of reading this book is to broaden our thinking about death and the importance of “being there” for patients and others. This book presents a wide range of professional and personal experiences of the author different from one another and likely different from our own. Through the reflections of the author, readers will be exposed to topics we rarely talk or even think about. This is a book that should be read by every nursing student and nurse:  they will learn about death through the eyes of the author. With that learning, they will be better prepared for the experiences they will face in their own careers. Other health care professionals will also find this book valuable. Be prepared when you start reading, though, because you will not be able to put the book down.


Marilyn H. Oermann, PhD, RN, ANEF, FAAN

Thelma M. Ingles Professor of Nursing

Duke University School of Nursing

Durham, North Carolina


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Editorial Reviews on Barnes and

Death happens in any number of ways, and no person has control over his or her final moments. This is a fact of life that Victor (Wilkes Univ., Passan Sch. of Nursing) knows from her 30-plus years of nursing. Death has never scared the author. Instead, she has accepted it, and here relates a particular fascination with the dying process, which became especially meaningful after her own near-death experience as a young woman. Although she admits to having more questions than answers, this memoir contains a wealth of lessons for the reader, conveyed through acute skills of observation, narrative, and self-reflection. Victor also demonstrates an appreciation of poetry by beginning each chapter with a view of death by either Emily Dickinson or Walt Whitman. Although Theresa Brown's Critical Care does not focus on the dying process, her writing skills create an equally engaging memoir. VERDICT Palliative care nurses or nurses of ICU patients would best relate to this book.—Chad Clark, San Jacinto Coll. Dist., Pasadena, TX

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