living your best to the end

Ricky’s mother had a ‘good death’

Of the three siblings, Ricky – the sole daughter – was closest to her mother, Anna. “When my marriage ended, my kids and I lived with my mother. We all adored her.” In the last three years of her life Anna- who died at age 91 – was beset by Dementia. “It was more than memory loss – it was her wonderful personality that vanished.” In spite of the pain of her beloved mother disappearing, Ricky took care of her until the end. It was an end ‘strategy’ that the sibs agreed on: no heroic measures. No CPR should her heart stop, no medications to jump-start her system, no breathing machines and no feeding tubes. “The day she passed the entire family had a get together in her room. We brought take out food and ate our picnic sitting by her saying our farewells .I returned later that evening to have time with her alone. I curled up around her, and whispered, it’s ok to go. She died later.” As spokesperson, Ricky stood firm in the face of health care professionals who repeatedly tried to sway the agreed-upon ‘natural death’ route. Afterwards, she was asked to give an interview about why she and her sibs could stand their ground.“The sibs and I did not see the point of meds that would prolong a life that was obviously ending… comfort was our priority and we felt that would be what she would have chosen had she been able.”...
A beautiful death

A beautiful death

“My mother was ‘dying’ for about 10 years – with her sickness, she seemed often on the brink of death, and then she’d rally. We’d all said our goodbyes a number of times. But on the day she actually died, my father was in her bed, his arm around her, holding on to her. He’d been in this position for a long time when my former brother-in-law came to visit. “My mother and her former son-in-law had kept up a really special relationship even after my sister had divorced him. They were very close and spent a fair bit of time together. My father would call him ‘her spiritual companion’. When he came into my mother’s room, she was looking grey and frail. My father’s arm was falling asleep holding her. ‘Can you take over here?’ he asked when former brother-in-law appeared. Take over he did, cradling my mother against him. My mother looked at him and her face lit up. Her cheeks became rosy and her eyes twinkled. She looked like a teenager again. She smiled, and took her last breath. It was a beautiful death. I was glad to have been there. Interestingly, when I was about 5 years old, I had a dream that my mother died in the arms of a younger man. It was the only such dream I’d ever had.”  ...

Dr James Downar: death is as precious as life

He seems far too young to be dedicated to minimizing suffering at life’s end, but that is, indeed, Dr Downar’s mission. His three specialties are inter-related: critical care, ethics and palliative care. Palliative care changes the focus from cure to comfort. This sensibility doesn’t fit with the military language often used in healthcare situations: battling, fighting, giving up, winning, losing. Dr Downar’s take puts that tough language into ‘life’s end’ perspective: “In healthcare, you’re always fighting. At life’s end, what your fighting for changes and what one person means by fighter is different than for another. The goal is to determine what you’re fighting for.” When people are asked about Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation (CPR), they often answer without understanding what is involved, and what the consequences may be. CPR can cause pain and suffering, and studies show that the survival rate after CPR in the hospital is very low. “When the heart stops, it’s usually not a random event. For 95 per cent of the population, death is a predictable event caused by a chronic and incurable disease.” Dying has become a foreign concept for many boomers “An unanticipated consequence of modern medicine is that many adults have never seen someone die. It’s not like previous generations where the dying were attended to at home. As a result, we have trouble accepting death, and we may request therapies that will fix a small problem but actually worsen the quality of life for a dying person.  We need to be comfortable with the idea of improving care by NOT trying to ‘cure’ some problems, such as a pneumonia in a person with...
Rodger Harding: my parents’ good deaths made me less fearful

Rodger Harding: my parents’ good deaths made me less fearful

“They both died young, but they’d accepted death” Rodger Harding’s mom died of colon cancer, his father 3 years later of emphysema. “They both died young – 61 and 69 –  but because they’d both accepted that they were dying, it took away the terror – for them and for me. This is not to say it dying was an easy or pretty process to watch.  But it still took away that fear.” Rodger knew something was up several months before his mother was diagnosed  “She wasn’t able to eat at the lavish lunches that were a monthly tradition with us. “ It wasn’t until the second operation that she understood: “She said to the doctor, ‘You’ve opened me twice. Did you take it out?’  When she heard the answer, her attitude was: ‘I’m facing it, we can have a good cry. I don’t mind dying but don’t really want to say goodbye.’ Friends would try to persuade her that she would get better. She wanted none of this.” Rodger, his brother and his father rallied. “We took her to the sea and wherever she wanted. She was feted, loved, made to feel special and pampered by all the people she’d ‘touched’ in her life. It was like a party. His mother, who loved food, would eat and enjoy it, and then throw it up. “She had to eat veggies, so I made her the only veggie dish I knew: ratatouille. Her sense of  humour kicked in, ‘I’m dying, and have to have ratatouille every day?’ When she became weaker, and had to go back into the hospital she...

Infographic of a Sweet Death vs Life-Prolonging Reality

BestEndings End-of-life wishes: think, talk, learn, plan, share. Search… Home About Personal Decisions Medical Decisions Resources My Wishes Blog Press Contact Skip to content Friday, 08 March 2013 15:45 Infographic of a Sweet Death vs Life-Prolonging Reality In Search of a Sweet Death infographic by visually. In Search of a Sweet Death infographic by visually.   Tweet More in this category: « Dr James Downar: death is as precious as life Kathy Kastner’s End of Life Journey a TEDtalk at TEDxYorkU » Leave a comment Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed. Message * enter your message here…Name * Email * Website URL   back to top BestEndings Pays It Forward “Share your end-of-life wishes with everyone who matters.” – Kathy Kastner Sign Up for Newsletter BestEndings Newsletter New research and new stories Latest Blog Dr Michael Gordon: geriatrician and humanist Music Therapy: Unlocking the soul Mouth Care improves Quality of Life Vial of LIFE Rodger Harding: my parents’ good deaths made me less fearful Research Quality of Life Better with Less Care at the End Pain as a Cause of Agitated Delirium Improving Communication about CPR in the Hospital Helping surrogates follow through with patients’ wishes Feeding tubes may add to risk of pressure ulcers To Provoke Thought Article about Life prolonging treatments Dr Rebecca Sudore writes about her grandfather’s last days Emergency Medicine’s role in end of life Heart failure patients and end of life considerations Implanted cardiac medical devices-at the end-of-life Top Skip to content   In Search of a Sweet Death infographic by visually.   Embed the...