Engage with Grace

Every year at Thanksgiving, Engage with Grace asks bloggers to participate in a yearly “blog rally”, a term I’d never heard of before. Bloggers encourage their readers to spend a little time discussing end-of-life (EOL) values with their families while giving thanks. An excellent tool for this is the One Slide Project, which is found on the Engage with Grace website. The site gives suggestions on how to introduce the subject and facts on why it is so important.theoneslide

On more than one occasion, I have watched families struggle to determine the best course for a loved one who could no longer decide for herself. Sometimes, family members from out of town are unwilling to give up their loved one and futile care goes on much longer than anyone anticipates, leaving a swath of guilty and angry family members and damaged relationships that can last for years.

On Tuesday night, the #HCLDR twitterchat centered around end-of-life issues. We had been thoroughly primed by Lisa Fields’ thoughtful blog post (@PracticalWisdom) and the thoughts flew fast and furiously. For a transcript, please click here. Above all, there was agreement that EOL discussions are important and if your primary care physician is not asking you what your wishes are, you should be telling him. Don’t wait until it’s too late and people that you don’t know or don’t want are making decisions for you. Make this holiday of thanks an opportunity for your family to understand your wishes. And you theirs.


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Dying With Dignity

She is always put together perfectly and today is no exception.

She’s tells me how she’s giving away her things and I decide against complimenting the beautiful opal she wears, fearful she might hand it over. We’ve been together for six years yet I know so little about her. Her husband is also my patient and has been very ill for several years. Despite his many medical issues he seemed to take care of her so it concerned me that he would die first.

Death decided he wants her instead. He stalks her but she stays gracious, not giving in to despair. She asks me about my daughters, she is honestly curious. She talks about how much her energy has ebbed but she is no longer frustrated by it. She teases her husband a little.

As she leaves she thanks me for taking such good care of her. How can she say that? I’ve failed. Neither I nor the oncologist can stop this inexorable process that is whittling her down to nothing. She hugs me as she leaves and I feel healed. What a startling reversal of roles.


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