Is it because I’ll be seventy-seven in two days and that somehow sounds much older than seventy-six? Or is it that a lot more attention is being paid to the need to think and talk about the end-of-life?
Atul Gawande, surgeon and gifted writer, (who once operated on me) has written a thoughtful new book exploring how we talk (or don’t talk) about dying, and just this past week, he was featured on an excellent PBS’ Frontline documentary on that subject.
Studies have shown that most of us want to die at home, that hospice care offers an easier death than heroic measures in intensive care units and that help in accepting the inevitable allows “better” deaths. End-of-life conversations are not easy for doctors because they have been trained to save us. Nor are they easy for their patients. But they are essential.
Peter and I have made our wishes clear. As we watched the interviews on Frontline with those who were willing to share their last days with us, we were impressed by their courage and grace in accepting that nothing further could be done.
And we were reminded once again that each day is precious.