Archive for Perfect Death

Dying in the Middle Room

a renovated suburban house with several rooms...

A renovated suburban house with several rooms…

The patient was restless.

An ambulance brought her to our hospice’s home—a renovated suburban house with several rooms—for pain management. She was also close to death. The only local family for the seventy-something woman was a granddaughter, overwhelmed by raising her kids and trying to be her grandmother’s caregiver. The patient’s siblings had already died. The patient’s daughter was, again, in rehab. A son, an Army officer, was traveling from somewhere in Europe, hoping to see his mother before she died.

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Right now, in the hospice home, in the middle room with its two beds, there was only the dying, restless patient, a nurse, the doctor, and the chaplain. One bed was empty. But the second bed, where the patient lay, shifted with her unsettled body, with her soft random moaning, with her eyes opening and closing. Read More →

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Imperfect Perfection

walk-on-the-beachAt the hospice staff meeting, the doctor shared about a patient that desired one last overnight trip to the coast. The drive would take two or hours from home to beach.

“I’d like to see the ocean again,” the patient had said. “I want to eat at my favorite restaurant and there’s a motel my wife and I always stay in. Would it be okay if we go?”

Our hospice approved. Family and the doctor understood the risks . . . and the rewards. And so the patient strolled on the sand while a salty breeze teased his hair. Gulls swooped and played tag. Later his extended family joined him for lunch. They chatted, clinked glasses and swapped stories, all with a view of the Pacific through the restaurant’s expansive windows.

He died in the motel room, easing from sleep to death before morning. Perfect?

Within days of that patient’s death, the doctor continued, a daughter visited her mother at our hospice’s inpatient facility. It’s a renovated suburban home, with six hospital beds. Volunteers pop cookies into the oven every day, with the fragrance of fresh-baked treats wafting through the house. The living room remains living room-like, furnished in overstuffed sofas and comfortable chairs. There is a simple chapel in one corner.

During the daughter’s visit, she nestled beside her mother on the bed. She embraced the thin, frail body and whispered I love yous as her mother fell asleep.

The mother died in her daughter’s arms. Perfect? Read More →

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