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A Piece of My Mind
November 15, 2000

Sometimes Dying Still Stings

Author Affiliations

A Piece of My Mind Section Editor: Roxanne K. Young, Associate Editor.

JAMA. 2000;284(19):2423. doi:10.1001/jama.284.19.2423

"This is horrible, just horrible." "Can't we do something else for him?" "This sucks."

My mother-in-law, my wife, and her sister were saying these things as we were waiting for my father-in-law Al to die. Their words surprised me because our family, along with Al and his physician, had orchestrated what I considered "a peaceful death" for Al. Our deathbed vigil was not taking place with him on a ventilator in some intensive care unit, surrounded by strangers and high-tech equipment. Al was at home, with his wife, two daughters, and two sons-in-law taking turns providing hands-on care with the assistance of home hospice. Four grandchildren played on the bed with their Pa Al when he felt up to it.