Where Do You Want to Die?

Where do you want to die?

Oops, did I just ruin any chance of us having a nice chat?

In our youth-obsessed, media-mad, win-the-lottery culture, this is not a popular question. In a conversation that matters with the people who matter in your life, it’s tough to ask. And maybe, it’s tougher to answer.

There are many questions that are easily answered or eagerly avoided:

  • Do you have a crush on that girl/boy?
  • What’s your major?
  • Did you serve in the military?
  • What’s your favorite team?
  • When are you two getting married?
  • What do you do for a living?
  • What will you name your child?
  • What’s for dinner?
  • Should we buy a house or keep renting?

Questions are age-related or relationship-based or inspired by situations. We all ask them, since they help us get to know another person. When we venture to ask, we may also be wondering about our own responses. Another person’s response often helps us better understand our own thoughts. All of our innocent to intimidating questions help keep an encounter lively and ongoing and . . .

However, the Where do you want to die? question is probably a conversation killer. Who wants to make the time for that question? It’s morbid. Personal. Upsetting. And, since we don’t like to think about dying and death, we haven’t thought about it. So, ask me next year. Or . . . never. Read More →

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My Hospice Holiday Wishes

In the final days of this month, and during this season of so many holidays for many religions and cultures, I wanted to use my “magic wand” to give an ideal gift to others.

Oh, how I wish I could wield a wand so powerful . . .

Below are the honest words and hopeful actions that I would offer for those involved with hospice.

And we are all part of hospice. About 2,600,000 people annually die in the United States. Using statistics only on those served by Medicare in 2015, there were over 1,300,000 people enrolled in hospice care. While those simplistic and rounded-off “facts” represent different sources, I’m confident that about half of the annual deaths in the United States involve hospice. The odds are extraordinarily high that everyone, at some point in their life, will either be helped by hospice or have a friend or family member in hospice care.

Some of my wishes are simple. Some are overly optimistic. Some are more practical and obvious than wearing warm clothes on a cold day.

I limited myself to 3 wishes for each “person.”

Please, tell me what your wish might be! (I’d love to hear from you.)

Even more important, when thinking about your “wishes” for life and death, for living and dying, for you and your loved ones, for today and whatever tomorrow might bring . . . tell your wishes to the people most important to you. Read More →

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Cancer Can Break Bones and Caregivers

Along with the primary diagnosis of cancer, a hospice nurse quickly listed her patient’s other health issues at our team meeting. One of the patient’s concerns was a . . . “pathological fracture.”

To which I thought, “Huh? What?”

I first thought of pathological liar, a phrase I’ve read in novels and seen in films. Actor Jim Carrey’s Liar Liar from 1997 humorously came to mind. There he played a lawyer who frequently and thoughtlessly lied. Lying for Carrey’s character was no different than breathing. But did the familiar “pathological liar” have anything to do with “pathological fracture?”

In the realm of words, there’s a common ground because of “pathology,” or the study of diseases. Lying about everything, though funny for a movie’s plot, will hurt, and can be diagnosed as an illness. Lying can cripple a person and profoundly impact every relationship.

A pathological fracture literally cripples a patient. Read More →

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