E N D O F L I F E
Many faith traditions place emphasis on the importance of conscious preparation for death as a way of showing respect for and acceptance of life's final adventure. Contact with death often gives us an opportunity to become more aware of spiritual realities. Death is not the opposite of life -- it is the opposite of birth.
Barbara Karnes offers in Gone From My Sight: The Dying Experience a flexible timetable with a description of the physical and psychological changes prior to death. Those signs and changes signify “a shift that occurs within a person which takes them from a mental processing of death to a true comprehension and belief in their own mortality”. Karnes’ “road map” helps family and friends to understand the unfamiliar process and relieves the fears associated with the dying process.
"Death is too frightening to talk about" or "dying is always painful" are only some of the many misconceptions about dying that can interfere with people receiving the best possible care at the end of life. Debunking these myths and understanding the realities can allow caregivers to better support dying persons and their loved ones.
Practical Preparations for End-of-Life Decisions
Most people have not learned how to talk realistically and comfortably about dying. Many patients and families simply do not know that there are options to relieve end of life pain and suffering and what those options are. A person with cancer and those who care about them may be at different "places" in accepting or understanding a prognosis that is terminal. This can make talking about these issues difficult and complicate decision making. A social worker or other health care professional can help sort through the different issues, emotions and choices that patients and caregivers may have.
Having meaningful conversations about advance care planning with family and friends can help patients in their last stages of life. It helps families to advocate for those who can no longer speak for themselves, and ensures that their wishes are honored. Advance care planning is equally important to the team of caregivers who directly participate in the caring. Caring Conversations guides you through important questions and considerations that go beyond advance directive documents, which frequently escape the attention of the caregivers.
Please ask Hospice of the Fisher Home staff about obtaining additional materials or visit our Resources page.