Archive for Dying

Is This Pill Gonna Kill Me?

Blue pill? Red pill? Choose…

 

“Is this pill gonna kill me?”

That was a question an elderly patient asked his grandson, according to the hospice nurse who witnessed the moment.

The grandson was one of several family members caring for their dying patriarch. As with every hospice patient, several doctors agreed the grandfather had a terminal illness. A long life neared its end. The man’s family sought to ensure he was comfortable and that his death would be peaceful. There were no guarantees, but they’d try . . . with help from hospice.

Like many patients, the elderly gentleman distrusted pills. They were too darn expensive. There were way too many pills to swallow. Even though he was told the medicine would help him feel better, some seemed to do nothing. He believed others made him feel worse. Or they did cause him to feel better, but he wouldn’t admit it. Or maybe they had nothing to do with him feeling better or worse, but those over-priced, twice-a-day, after-a-meal, on-an-empty-stomach endless bottles of pills sure were convenient to blame. Read More →

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12 Suggestions for Talking to Kids about Death

A patient asked his hospice nurse, “How can I tell my kid that I’m dying?”

And the nurse later asked me.

It’s a scary question for parents and grandparents when they enter hospice care and have “six months or less to live.”

Before attempting answers, there are several good reasons to question my responses.

First, I don’t have children. I’ll never tell my own kid that I am dying. Second, I’m not an expert, but do have experience. A minister, I’ve supported families during the time of dying and grieving. Right now, in hospice, I work in bereavement support.

Now you’re aware of my advice-giver flaws! However, with conversations involving parents, kids, and dying, being open about your weaknesses (and not forgetting your strengths) is important. Read More →

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Five Hours

The clerk behind the counter in the fancy kitchen and cooking store looked forty-something. Smiling, she asked me a question echoed multiple times a day: “How can I help you?”

Then she glanced at the nametag on my shirt and her friendly salesperson grin faded. Soon, she was telling me about five hours that had changed her life.

But first I answered, letting her know I was there for a special-ordered knife and had also found other on-sale kitchen-y items. It was after work and I was crossing errands off a to-do list. When exiting my car, I noticed my nametag was still on.

Wearing my nametag in public is always a risk.

A good risk.

A bad risk. Read More →

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