I have been looking at old graphics lately and many showed relatively peaceful, beautiful death. I were thinking of the misrepresentation and then I realised that many would be accurate images and that the ugliness today often resulted from a) the sterility and formality and overcrowded environment of ICU b) the ludicrous and ugly procedures that extend the hours of ” life”. Lynne.
When I worked briefly as a Buddhist chaplain in a Medical ICU I was shocked by the suffering I watched every day as families anguished over what to do next. There are no words to adequately describe an ICU death. It is most often preceded by medical interventions that are barbaric – machines, wires, drugs, and pumps sustain a body until bereft family members can find a way to stop the aggressive medical treatment and let nature take its course, often feeling like they are committing a crime rather than releasing someone from prison. The ICU is no place for siblings or children to have conversations about what a parent or loved one would have wanted at this point. It’s like trying to teach a drowning man to swim. The die is cast.What if families talked about end of life care over dinner? What if priests and rabbis and pastors fostered values-based “upstream” conversations not just about how we want to live but how we want to die, knowing they are intimately connected? What if it was not taboo to talk about the kind of treatment you want – or don’t want – before you die? How can we help families, neighbors, faith communities and clinicians to stop being fearful, maybe stop wasting time watching television or shopping and turn attention to the most important event that we will all inevitably face?