No doubt, not an easy topic to discuss.
And I know this from having discussed it with my mother who passed away a little over two years ago.
Yet, I’ve never been one to shy away from discussing things that are difficult and might make me feel uncomfortable because I’d rather just feel whatever I’m going to feel and go through it instead of avoiding my fears.
My mother and I had some very honest conversations before she died. We talked about what death might feel like, we talked about her fear of experiencing pain as she was dying, we talked about dying without regrets, we talked about her spiritual beliefs, and we also talked about her memorial service. We had honest and emotional discussions. But do you know what? It allowed the both of us to feel relieved in having these discussions because we knew that the end was coming so it made it easier to accept and walk through. And in doing so, a different kind of healing occurred.
The reason I’m sharing this post today is because I think it's even harder for many doctors to have end-of-life discussions. Doctors are trained to fix their patients; therefore death is something they find difficult to talk about because to them it means they may have failed in some way. They would rather keep trying every attempt to save a patient’s life instead of realizing that at some point there is nothing more that medicine and hope can possibly do. And I think that’s extremely challenging for them to accept.
However, last week I watched a riveting and deeply affecting documentary about how one doctor, Atul Gawande, is trying to change the way the medical field struggles to accept their limitations and the deaths of their patients. In the documentary, Gawande takes us behind closed doors to witness intimate end-of-life conversations among doctors, patients and their families. And I feel it’s a documentary that everyone should watch because there will come a time when we all have to face this.
Again, I know that mortality is not an easy topic to discuss or accept, but it's important that it be aired because it's inevitable. And I greatly respect and applaud Dr. Gawande for admitting his fears and struggles by examining these things and bringing them to light in this honest, compassionate and breathtaking documentary.
Here is an excerpt from "Being Mortal."
If you have some time this weekend, feel free to view the complete documentary on PBS. It's 55-minutes long, but trust me, it is so worth it because you will be altered.
Have a wonderful weekend everyone!