Allowing Natural Death...
…is a plan for life’s end which seeks to provide comfort and dignity above all else
…acknowledges that death is the inevitable result of the aging process
…supports a kinder and gentler way to die
…relies less on medicine, technology and hospitalizations and more on the relief of pain and discomfort
…is helpful language to use in shared decision making for elders as they speak about their desired death
…is not the same as Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders
…must be negotiated with families and providers who agree to honor the wishes of the elder person for a good death
…chooses to maintain the loved one’s quality of life even when it means that death will come sooner
…is not euthanasia
…does not rule out the use of substances that bring comfort
More than anything else Allowing Natural Death requires courage and love that can take us to the places that scare us most – so that we are able to enjoy each precious day that we are given in this life.
No thank you, Ira
In a long ago post here,I thanked Ira Byock for all his work to improve end of life care, but after his recent appearance on a Sixty Minutes episode highlighting the end of life planning of Brittany Maynard, I have to say no thanks for this new focus of his work. Byock continues this work in a recent article in the New York Times.
I have witnessed Dr. Byock at the bedside of terminal patients exhibiting utmost caring and impeccable clinical skills. He clearly brings love into his practice, but there is much about him that I can’t figure out. Why is he compelled to speak out against personal choice at the end of life? Why is it not enough to continue the good work of educating doctors and improving conditions for those who are dying? Why pretend that the drugs prescribed by physicians do NOT bring death nearer while alleviating suffering? Why diminish the details of the use of terminal sedation?
After 20 years on the front lines of health care, there is no possibility that the compassionate care Byock advocates will happen for any, but the privileged few who can afford to be cared for in their homes. Those who spend time in medical institutions are certain that there are fates far worse than death; the loneliness of neglect, the boredom of institutionalization, the pain of inadequate attention to basic needs, and the over use of unwanted care that prolongs the inevitable. A question for you Dr. Byock – why must you use your good name to take a paternalistic stance against Death with Dignity that will limit choices ?… choices that will also limit suffering. I just don’t get you…maybe I just don’t want to.