Death 101: The Art of Dying (as taught by Atul Gawande…and my mother)

I’ve come a long way, baby. From being the scarediest of cats about so many things. High bridges, for instance. And death.

Years later I married into an Italian family. Where weddings and funerals are basically, family reunions.

A decade ago, a “Job season” wrested me from my dread-of-death grip.

Last year, Tony lost his mother.

Some folks believe HOSPICE a 7-letter curse word, a synonym for “giving up.”

Despite the overwhelming evidence that no drug or procedure existed that could truly fix my mom — “fix” meaning to restore my mother to her former level of function — a few loved ones balked at the mention of hospice.

The goal of ordinary medicine is to extend life. By contrast, hospice aims to, “give each client the fullest possible life now, today.”

Please note: Patients with a terminal illness do not usually have to pay for hospice care. Currently, most hospice patients have their costs covered by Medicare, through the Medicare Hospice Benefit.

Hospice is not giving up on your loved one. Choosing hospice actually gives them the possibility of a longer life with better quality.

As I sat with my mother one year ago, it was a comfort to know I was honoring her final wish: “I want to go home.”

Key Questions:

Howdy-hey from Almost Heaven, West Virginia! Here in my 110-year-old Sears kit-house, I drink coffee, write many words, snuggle soft mammals, repeat.

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