" Families with unfinished business had significantly higher depression and grief scores after bereavement compared with those without."
“People have concerns besides simply prolonging their lives. Surveys of patients with terminal illness find that their top priorities include, in addition to avoiding suffering, being with family, having the touch of others, being mentally aware, and not becoming a burden to others. Our system of technological medical care has utterly failed to meet these needs, and the cost of this failure is measured in far more than dollars. The hard question we face, then, is not how we can afford this system’s expense. It is how we can build a health-care system that will actually help dying patients achieve what’s most important to them at the end of their lives.”
"We tend to defer the question of living or dying well until it’s too late to answer. This might be the scariest thing about death: coming to die only to discover, in Thoreau’s words, that we haven’t lived."
“Everything We Say and Do” is an informational series developed by SHM’s Patient Experience Committee to provide readers with thoughtful and actionable communication tactics that have great potential to positively impact patients’ experience of care. Each article will focus on how the contributor applies one or more of the 'key communication' tactics in practice to maintain provider accountability for “Everything we say and do that affects our patients’ thoughts, feelings and well-being.”
"Looking back, many sons and daughters I have worked with regret having encouraged a parent to undergo a hip surgery. Spouses regret pushing for their loved ones to be intubated, and many patients struggle to balance the suffering with the life-prolonging effects of their treatments. Such regrets are the outgrowth of an approach to death that is focused on delaying death rather than being present and accompanying loved ones as they are dying. Accessing death-delaying treatments often comes at the expense of easing discomfort and being intentional about the nonmedical ways we can help our dying loved ones".
"I turned back to my patient, still holding her hand. 'How about we take a little break from the treatment?'
She nodded, and we sat in silence again. After a while, she asked 'When we gonna get started on chemo again?'
I looked uncertainly at her and then at Mr. Boo. He looked back at me, awaiting my reply. This time, I rearranged myself to sit up a little straighter in my chair.
'Well, I have to wonder if giving you more chemotherapy is the right thing to do, with all that you’ve been through. I’m wondering if we should be talking about bringing more care into your home, to assist both you and Mr. Boo. Maybe even hospice.'
I had said the word."
"There’s an irony about end-of-life conversations. When done correctly, they’re really not about the end at all. In fact, they are probably more about life than any other conversation you’ll ever have".