Thursday, August 11, 2005

The search for "good dying"

An excellent article in the New York Times about the evolution of hospice care, and the idea that a "good death" is starting to edge out the "preserve life at any cost, no matter how much it hurts" idea in medicine. Check it out here. Well worth reading - the story on page 6 of the article is a powerhouse one.

4 comments:

Hope said...

This article hit a tender spot for me. The article starts out by describing the death rattle, which is exactly what happened to my friend who passed away nearly two weeks ago now. She had 'comfort measures only' order on her chart and as I spent the week watching her die I thought a lot about interventions to prolong the inevitable. I was thankful that there was no feeding tube and no other medications when she stopped being able to swallow. The last thing she had to nourish her was the Eucharist.

I am still haunted by her death rattle and by the sounds that came when it was accompanied by pain. I am struggling right now by trying to sort out or makes sense out of suffering. Maybe I will understand one day, but right now I really don't.

Poor Mad Peter said...

My wife is a hospice chaplain, which means she is in the presence of dying and death five days a week. She is a thorough professional, and tells nothing of what she encounters beyond the hospital walls, as it is holy ground.

That said, she does mention that pastoral care is not just for the dying--it is for the living, those who will be the survivors, the bereaved.

I haven't read the "good death" article, but she has mentionned one thing to me that may apply here: the saddest deaths for her (remember, no one enters a hospice unless death is inevitable, and relatively sooner than later) are those in which the dying have no one. No one to be with them, no one to mourn their passing.

Physical death is ugly, as Hope has described so eloquently, but at least it is witnessed. If there is such a thing as a good death, it is that it happens in the presence of someone saying farewell...

Poor Mad Peter said...

PS: Steve-man, looks like someone has hacked your blog. Entry number 1 here doesn't belong.

Steve F. said...

Yeah, I finally got around to sitting down long enough to use the "delete forever" command. Thanks for pointing it out, brother...