Be Defiant In the Face of Death

For someone who is seriously ill, celebrating life and relationships is almost a defiant act. Even death can’t take from us who we are and have been for one another. Dr. Ira Byock, author of Dying Well

Dr. Byock, a palliative care physician and expert in end of life decisions, believes that nobody should have to die in pain or alone. He is dedicating his life to making this dream come true. While dying is unwanted, sometimes tragic, and always sad, it’s not only those things. It can also be a time of celebrating a life well lived and the relationships one has made.

Accepting the reality of death enables families to say thank you or please forgive me. When death is talked about openly, it gives the patient the opportunity to express his/her concerns about spouses, children or grandchildren, finances, or other pressing issues. Honest conversation unlocks the door of guilt and secrecy frequently associated with serious illness.

Affirmation: I’m not afraid to talk about death and dying.

Coaching questions: What are your end of life wishes? Do you know the wishes of your spouse, parents or grandparents? What would it be like to openly discuss death and dying even with those who are well? Take a first step in initiating discussions.

Consider Hospice/Palliative Care

When I reflect on the stories of death supported by hospice care and contrast it with our story depicting an absence of support, I find myself dealing with envy and anger. Lisa J. Shultz, author of A Chance to Say Goodbye: Reflection on Losing a Parent

November is National Hospice/Palliative Care Month. A daughter I interviewed for my book was so positively impacted by the hospice care her young mother received that, as an adult, she became a lifelong hospice volunteer and the National Hospice Volunteer of the Year. Hospice and palliative care frequently make a profound, positive difference in the lives of families and patients. 

What’s the difference? Hospice care is for terminally ill patients when treatment is no longer curative during the last six months of life. Palliative care can be employed while the patient is continuing active treatment through different phases of their life-limiting condition. Both provide comfort. 

Affirmation: I’m grateful for the volunteers and professionals who provide hospice and palliative care.

Coaching request: If you are a patient or family member dealing with a life-threatening condition, consider hospice or palliative care now or in the future. It can make a world of difference.