More Than Meets the Eye, True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife covers many aspects of the dying and grieving process and sheds light on euthanasia, suicide, near-death experience, and spirit visits after the passing of a loved one. ___________________________________________

Monday, July 26, 2010

Coming to Terms with the End of Life

When I wrote More Than Meets the Eye About Death, Dying, and Afterlife, I interviewed Dr. Aaron Milstone who was co-director of the Lung Transplant Department at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. By the time patients reached his office, they were many times nearing the end of life. Therefore, he witnessed the death of many of his patients. However, many doctors are not comfortable with telling patients that they are dying. this skill is not typically taught in medical school.  In fact, it goes against the grain of medicine and physicians who many times see the death of their patient as a personal failure.

Here are some tips for doctors who need to tell family members that there's nothing more that can be done to save their loved one's life.

When Dr. Milstone realizes that a patient is going to die, he says it is helpful to remind him or her and the family that physicians are only human, and that there is a limit to what medicine can do. Regardless of how skilled practitioner, it reaches a point where medical therapy is not be able to help someone survive.

Some of the phrases Dr. Milstone uses in his end-of-life discussions with the family are:

“We’ve reached the limit of what medicine can do for your husband, your child, your brother, your sister,” and “Your loved one has reached the natural path of this illness and now we are going to let nature take its final course, and let your loved one die in peace.”

These words help families accept that the end is near. When people understand that death is a natural result of a disease, there is no need for blaming anyone or feeling guilty about the decision to remove life support.

For more information, you might enjoy reading the complete book More Than Meets the Eye True Stories about Death, Dying, and Afterlife.
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