Archive for Talking About Dying – Page 2

Please, Don’t Say Hospice or Mention Death

How do you share openly about dying with those that don’t want to speak or hear the word, “Death?”

How can a hospice staff—whether home health aids, chaplains, or nurses—explain who they are and what they are doing when a patient’s family instructs them not to mention the word, “Hospice?”

In our patient care meetings, especially with newly admitted hospice patients, a month doesn’t go by without mentioning one or both of these questions.

Since hospice involves caring for the dying and supporting the bereaved after death, sometimes the staff can’t talk about their real work with the people they serve.

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What word do you use for death?

  • Is a person lost?
  • Have they transitioned?
  • Are they gone?
  • Did they pass?
  • Is your loved one in a better place, standing at heaven’s gate, meeting Saint Peter, or with the angels?

Since the beginnings of my ministry, I have used dying, death, and died. I suspect, over the years, in person and on the phone, I have upset people with those unadorned words. Read More →

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A Hospice Minute

stopwatchGotta minute?

In 2015, the life expectancy for an “average” American was 78 years. Simple multiplication means that the annual total of 525,600 minutes accumulates to 40,996,800 lifetime minutes.

In a minute, everything can change.

In hospice, every moment is precious.

How many minutes are wasted on worries that prove meaningless, or speaking meaningless (but hurtful) words we regret, or regretting decisions that meant there was less time with loved ones?

How many singular, wonderful moments become like doors into a rooms decorated with experiences that will be treasured for the remainder of life? Read More →

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Start Talking Now (Please)

eoloa-mapCertain hospice-related subjects seem easy to write about. For me, California’s End of Life Option Act (EOLOA) isn’t one of those easy topics.

In June 2016, the EOLOA became law. I wrote about it then.

The EOLOA allows dying patients to take medication to end their life. Two doctors must examine that adult patient (18 years of age and older), with both agreeing she or he has an illness that will lead to death in six months or less. The EOLOA has extensive steps the patient is personally responsible for taking. Those steps include meeting with doctors, completing forms, and drinking the medicine. The process is intentionally complicated.

  1. Since that day in June, I think people are committing suicide.
  2. Since that day in June, I think doctors are murdering their patients.
  3. Since that day in June, I think there’s another option for a dignified death.

Which of the above statements would you make?

I suspect a majority of Californians—or anyone where a “right to die” law permits a medically assisted death—would need a fourth choice for a truthful answer:

  1. Since that day in June, like always, I just do my best to get through the week.

Read More →

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