Monday, March 17, 2008

Dying well.

Some people have horrible deaths. The author of this article suggests that it is all down to money, but I don't accept that. Money doesn't buy care, only the semblance of care. It's like relying on a prostitute for love; it may look like love, but it is all an act that finishes when the money runs out.

Arthur Hugh Clough's 'Thou shall not kill but needst not strive officiously to keep alive' was meant ironically, but it was written at a time when physicians could do next to nothing to prolong life anyway. I have noticed in my younger colleagues an unwillingness to let go. It's as if a patient's death is a personal insult. I believe doctors are generally terrified of their own deaths and as a consequence fear death of a patient. Thus they fail to prepare patients for their deaths and persist with useless treatments to a point when they are causing harm rather than benefit.

They have forgotten the part of their job that is about relieving suffering. There is also an unwarranted reticence to use morphine in proper doses. For Christians the doctrine of double effect – relieve the suffering even if it shortens life - should absolve them from responsibility for a patient's death.

Some would blame Christian ethics for this cruel attitude to the dying. They suggest that a belief that life must be preserved at all costs condemns patients to prolongation of their suffering, but it is not Christian ethics that are responsible for the callousness of health providers. Christians are supposed to be patient, kind, loving, good, faithful, gentle, peaceful, joyful and self-controlled. Other attitudes are perversions. Dame Cecily Saunders, the mother of the modern hospice movement understood that.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Money might help but it all boils down to attitude.Are you ready to go?Those that love the Lord still have a will to live but don't dread death.They know "The Best Is Yet To Come"!I've seen people with money die horrible deaths.I have also seen people who were poor go out in peace with a smile on their face.I look forward to the day I meet my maker face to face!(And I am poor by today's standards)
God Bless,