A round-up of some of the year’s most thought-provoking and inspiring pieces on the end-of-life experience.
The deaths of several revered figures in politics and entertainment brought end-of-life care planning and hospice into the public dialogue. Those living with chronic illnesses showed great vulnerability by sharing their stories. And research explored the benefits of music and massage at life’s end.
Young adults living with chronic and terminal illnesses are leveraging social platforms, like YouTube, to share their experiences normalizing conversations about death and grief for their young supporters in the process. Some of these taboo-breakers include the late Claire Wineland and Emily Hayward.
Touch is a meaningful expression of human connection. Increasingly, massage therapy is being incorporated into hospice-service offerings due to its ability to decrease the pain and anxiety of those nearing end of life.
A mother with stage 3 ovarian cancer shares what it was like telling her eight-year-old son about her diagnosis and the wisdom she hopes to convey to him in the time she has left: “If I won’t be around to show him how to live well, the least I can do is show him how to die well.”
Across California, nursing homes are testing a music therapy program that aims to tap into the consciousness of previously unresponsive dementia patients.
A common misconception of hospice is that it’s “where you go to die.” And with public figures, like Aretha Franklin, often announcing their admission into hospice care days before their deaths, it’s not surprising that people come to this conclusion.
(Aretha Franklin only spent three days in hospice care before her death, and she never wrote a will. Her end-of-life experience prompted some important conversations around advance care planning.)
Speaking to a dead loved one is comforting and a healthy expression of grief for humans of all ages.
Audrey Parker died in November from complications of metastasized stage 4 breast cancer. Before she died, she shared this beautiful reflection about finding happiness and meaning in spite of death. “All I wanted was to have a fabulous end-of-life experience on my terms and to die in style. After all, death is natural and can be a beautiful thing if we allow it to be.”
War metaphors are often used to describe how patients cope with serious illness and prepare for death. This type of language is prevalent — and harmful — when we talk about people living with terminal cancer.
As intense and exhausting as providing hospice care can be, helping the dying and their families during this difficult time is deeply fulfilling work.
What articles about the end-of-life experience resonated with you this year? Please share in the comments below.