Archive for Talking with the Dying

Do You Have a Moment?

one minute

Gotta minute?

In 2017, 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 rooms decorated with experiences that will be treasured for the remainder of life? Read More →

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What If a Hospice Patient Asks: “Will I Get Better?”

lie or truth

The simplest of questions are asked before someone enters into a hospice’s care. Versions of those questions continue after a hospice staff has arrived at a home or facility to serve the needs of a dying patient.

Simple doesn’t mean easy.

Simple can be the hardest of all.

The hospice patient asks . . .

  • Will I get better?
  • What is wrong with me?
  • When can I walk again?
  • Must I take all those drugs?
  • Why aren’t I hungry?

I’m sure other equally “simple” questions have been asked. Truly, what is more straightforward than a person wondering when or if they might regain the strength to walk? Or to want to know why they feel so “off?” Or to request why new medications are supposed to be taken? Read More →

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Can You Hear Me Now?

Williams and Damon

Near death, is hearing our last form of active connection with others?

I’ve witnessed doctors urging adult children to continue sharing essential information with a comatose parent. And I’ve also witnessed nurses warning friends or family members to be careful with all conversations during a hospital visit. Even a patient that seems “out of it” may hear arguments. The patient may comprehend that one sibling is berating another for not “pulling the plug.” I’ve been in rooms when individuals have joked about trivial things, completely ignoring their friend or family member. I’ve also been with people who stood on opposite sides of a hospital bed while debating money, cremation vs. burial, or where they’d have dinner later that night.

  • What is the last thing you want your loved one to hear?
  • Will you refer to him in the third person, as if he was not present in the room?
  • What if she overhears criticism or gossip about a family member, or about her?
  • Why are you grousing about colleagues at work or whining about incompetent teachers at your kid’s school?

Talk to your loved one, not over them.

Talk with them, not about them.

Be kind. Be gentle. Be honest. Be hopeful. Be present. Read More →

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