Archive for Dying

Hospice and the Unknown

UnknownOn the weekly list of hospice patients and their myriad illnesses, one disease seemed to glare back at me: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis.

What was it? I’d never heard or read about this illness.

Later, I found this description from the Cleveland Clinic’s website:

In IPF, lung tissue becomes scarred and changes the lung’s ability to function normally. The scarring typically starts at the edges of the lungs and advances towards the center of the lungs. Typically, mild scarring occurs first, but over months to years, the normal lung tissue is replaced by more heavily scarred lung tissue, which makes it difficult to breathe and deliver needed oxygen to the body. Unfortunately, IPF is a disabling disease without a known cure and with few treatment options. The cause of IPF is unknown . . . [Italics added by me.]

After reading, I took a deep breath.



Life! Read More →

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Hospice May Confront Our Habits

habit sign

Please ignore what I’m about to tell you regarding handling a hospice patient in the final hours or days of their life.


Let me rephrase that first sentence: don’t assume I’m correct when wondering if turning a patient in hospice care every two hours near her or his last breath is necessary.


One of the nurses at our weekly hospice team meetings—where the staff gathers to review each patient’s condition and needs—mentioned she’d read an article questioning the value of turning a patient near the end of life. She wasn’t recommending a change of policy for our treatment of dying patients, or suggesting that some patients be used as “experiments” to see how turning versus not turning impacts their well-being. Mostly, she seemed to be asking about how to improve the quality of life for families and their loved ones as they face the final days. Read More →

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The 6th Commandment and Hospice


Doesn’t hospice break the 6th commandment?

Or, to be King James Version about it: Thou Shalt Not _____.

By background, I’m a pastor. Early in my career, I attended a gathering where several irked clergy colleagues argued over the language of the Commandments. In the original Hebrew, did #6 in God’s “top ten” mean murder or kill or both? Ministers may endlessly debate meanings and theological viewpoints, but for some families confronted with end-of-life choices for loved ones, they see little difference between the words.

I often tell sweet stories about all the wonderful stuff that hospice can do for patients while they are dying, for families as they care for a loved one, and for the survivors as they grieve a beloved.

But others will tell different stories. If it’s not hospice will kill you, it could be they will over-medicate you, and you’ll be: too doped up or too hyper or become addicted to drugs or . . . Read More →

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