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.
How do I begin to forgive institutions?
I feel that some forgiving is in order. The kind that means I must find some forgiveness to extend to another. But I need to forgive institutions. No individual persons need be included…. though I can make out some faces, in the murky soup of “this is how we have always done it” leaders. I need to forgive a system that has become far more powerful than the sum of their dangerously complex parts. One that I watch cause increasing amounts of suffering, while it purports to be alleviating it.
I feel I must forgive the transgressions of a system of care that dictates how we care for frail elders in most American institutions. I am sure other institutions could be held under a similar microscope, but it is health care that I have known the best and loved the most. I describe myself as a systems thinker with a front line focus. I have thrived on the crazy-making environments where activity levels are dangerously high for those on the front line, and that includes those receiving, as well as providing, care. That activity swirls around all manner of suffering that is met with every possible medical intervention to stop it. But so often it is just not possible to make it stop. And that’s when I found myself needing to lie. To explain to patients, their loved ones and the concerned staff members struggling to provide the care they felt their patients deserved…I had to lie. I had to pretend to believe that institutions and those who led them were truly most concerned with conditions on the front lines of care. And not so much the monies generated there. On these not so fine points, I could go on and on.
As you may already know…the book is coming. But I feel this forgiveness must come first. Let the anger at the institutions be the initial impetus for writing, but let the forgiveness inform my writing so that what I share is full of love and hope for a better end of life for frail elders. I am praying on it.