Archive for Dying

Mr. Cantankerous Goes Home

You'll Accompany MeFinally, the husband and father came home.

With his family.

He had a “good death.”

His wife, who the patient said that he loved more than life itself, sat beside him until a breath became the final one.

Not yet fifty, he should have been fussing with his vintage Chevy, playing with his first grandkid, or renovating another house with his business partner. Instead, he was stuck in bed. Because he enjoyed rock-and-roll, a lot of music was played during his last days at home. In those precious moments, in those fading breaths, there was one particular song that . . .

But I’m getting ahead of his story. It’s a story with a sad ending because a man too young dies. It’s also a story with a good enough ending, because of those four opening sentences. How I wish everyone’s death (old or young, rich or poor) had some version of those simple, blessed opening sentences. That won’t happen. Some deaths are hard. Some deaths strip a person or family from any opportunity to prepare or plan. Sometimes we deny impending death and then find ourselves grieving not just the person, but our own blindness or stubbornness. Read More →

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No Dead End Thoughts For Me

end of road

Most people are ignorant about hospice. I get it.

Most aren’t interested in learning about hospice. I understand.

Most figure hospice is for others, but not them. Makes sense to me.

If a doctor suggested hospice care, how many patients would prefer to discuss other options? Is there a Plan B or C to hospice? Is there a second or fifth opinion with choices other than hospice?  Even if you knew that combined, all of the hospice agencies in the United States cared for about 50% of those who died* in a typical year, hospice stats don’t matter since you’re not going to . . .

Die?

Aren’t you the clever one? Not.

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My parents jokingly—and seriously—planned to “leave feet first” from their home. Over the decades, they’d called the plumber to fix the toilet, mowed the lawns, repainted the house when needed, upgraded to double-paned windows, and hoped at some point in the future they’d go to sleep in their bed and not wake up. Mom was smart, a person of deep faith and knowledgeable about the world. As bright as he was stubborn, Dad had a successful career in sales: life insurance. Professionally (and ironically), he was always encouraging clients to make careful plans for their uncertain futures.

They did not die in their lovely home of nearly 50 years. Read More →

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That Word . . . That Talk

Euphemisms

At one of the churches I served, I led a class entitled, “Living Fully, Dying Well.” It encouraged participants to learn about and share their views on . . . Death. I asked the group of mostly parents, ranging in age from 30s to 70s: “Did you ever have a talk with your kids about sex?”

A few had toddlers, and that talk was years away. A few never had kids: no need for the talk. But the majority, recently or decades before, raised their hands to acknowledge covering that subject with their kids.

“What about death?”

They stared at me.

“Have you told your children about what your thoughts are about death? About anything having to do with your wishes if you get a terminal illness, or what you want if you can’t make decisions?” Read More →

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