Allow Natural Death

Archive for April, 2010


Today’s Parade Magazine supplement to many Sunday newspapers in the USA carried the story of Gail Sheehey’s husband who was lucky enough to be able to die at home as he had wished. I say “lucky enough” because though 70 to 90% say that they wish to die at home only 20 to 50% are able to do so according to the Dartmouth Atlas.  Reasons vary, but most of us wish to die in a comforting environment with our loved ones nearby. We wish to be free of the constraints of institutional policies that may limit the experience of our loved ones at this most precious time. Our death is a part of the memories we will leave behind. Our homes are the places we can best comfort one another and create those memories that will strengthen our families as they say goodbye.

The question of why so many folks are unable to fulfill their wish to die at home has no simple answer. Many factors will influence where you will die. Perhaps the most important of these is the conversations you have with those who are most important in your life. Obviously, a planned death at home is not something that we can achieve alone. We will require the help of others. Loved ones, friends, community and most importantly, hospice providers. Hospice staff members are the experts in dying who can bring understanding of the process of dying to our families. They will assure the comfort of the person who is dying and the continued comfort of the family after the loved one has died.

But without conversations about our inevitable death, we will leave unexplored those ways that we can help one another to achieve the “good death” that only we can define. Please be courageous . Talk to your loved ones soon about the time when we will say goodbye.