Living with Dying Blog

One of the big myths I hear about hospice is we give you “that shot”and then you die. That shot, being morphine, doesn’t end your life. It eases your pain. But we hospice workers know there is more than one technique to ease a person’s suffering. One of them is thanatology […]

The Language of the Spirit

Mom, looking for her passport My 90-year-old mom was suddenly really sick last week and my husband Malcolm and I had a serious, “Do we know where everything important is?" moment. Mom had filled out an advanced directive and I have durable power of attorney and medical power of attorney. […]

Where is Everything

Talking about death is not an easy subject and each person handles it in his or her own way. Some people and their families boldly face death head on. Others never want to admit out loud that they are going to die. But there is a middle ground where practical […]

Final Instructions

Two weeks ago, a good friend and colleague was rushed to the hospital in an ambulance with heart attack symptoms. Jimmy arrived without his cell phone.  He spent nearly 3 hours in the emergency room by himself, because he didn’t know anyone’s phone number. Like all of us these days, he […]

Who Will You Call?

Our book is about the practical side of caregiving for the dying. But there is a very magical and mysterious side to death. In my 21 years in hospice, patients have had unexplainable experiences that have been truly remarkable. Quite often they report visitations from people who have already died […]

Death: The Big Mystery

I was visiting a patient who was close to dying from liver cancer. Sandy did not look comfortable or peaceful. She was breathing hard and thrashing around in her bed, though she had been unable to swallow and speak for days. I was tempted to suggest more morphine or Ativan, […]

The Need to Connect

When asked to describe the perfect death, most people say, “I just want to close my eyes and not wake up.” The body agrees. And it actually has a plan for making that happen. THE BODY’S PLAN A few months before you die, you lose your appetite for food.  Things start […]

What is a Good Death