Archive for Dying

Life Is a Death Sentence

One Door

I suppose some could describe hospice as choosing Door #1 or Door #1 or Door #1?

Hospice is a death sentence.

After all, any doctor that recommends hospice care will say—maybe bluntly, maybe hemming-and-hawing—there is likely six months or less __________.

  • A – To live
  • B – Until death

Isn’t choosing A’s “to live” a glass half-full answer? But don’t both really mean B? With few exceptions, no one leaves hospice care alive. Some joke about “graduating from hospice,” but how many of those jokesters return, sooner or later, to hear the same words: you have six months or less . . .?

I suppose some could describe hospice as choosing Door #1 or Door #1 or Door #1? In other words, a choice with no choice. Or perhaps, clinging to the oft-used justification for the mysteries of God’s ways, if a door closes, then a window will open? Except with hospice care, aren’t all the windows nailed shut?

Isn’t hospice care the worst thing possible when a physician suggests it?

Or do you think this . . . Read More →

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Morphine: the Misunderstood Medication

medication

My pain raged and roared. It only ebbed if I didn’t move. Which was impossible.

“They’re gonna give you morphine,” one of my companions said.

Another declared, “You’ll get addicted.”

Morphine? Really? Wasn’t that only in the movies? Wasn’t that nasty drug only as a last resort for the worst of the worst?

Whump-whump. Whump-whump.

We heard the whirling blades chopping the air before we spotted the helicopter angling between the mountain ridges. It was searching for a landing spot near where I lay by the circle of rocks from last night’s now cold campfire. At mid-day, several hours earlier, I had busted my leg while exploring the area with a group of kids from the church I then served. On a weekend backpack, we had found an inviting slope of snow—really more an ice field in that part of the summer—and decided to butt-slide down its tempting expanse. As the mature associate pastor, I went first. Read More →

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Hospice & 3 Guys: Guy Dying

Guy Dying

Three guys.

They didn’t know each other, and they only knew me in the briefest and most problematic of days.

One Was Dying. Another was Near Death. The third was During Grief.

I think of them now, years—and decades—later, equally grateful and humbled for what I learned while spending time with them. As always, I will try to change a little or a lot of their story to disguise each guy’s true identity.

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Guy Dying . . .

Long ago, I was his hospice chaplain, randomly assigned by my supervisor to be part of his hospice care “team.” Guy Dying had COPD. Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease is an inflammatory lung disease that causes obstructed airflow. It can make breathing increasingly difficult. Be rude, and call it an old smoker’s illness. Be reasonable and acknowledge that with our guaranteed weaknesses as aging humans—often living or working in places with poor air quality, and that from birth until the day you die your lungs never cease working—COPD doesn’t care if you smoked two packs a day or never touched a cigarette. Read More →

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