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A Piece of My Mind
November 14, 2007

The Last Gift

Author Affiliations

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

JAMA. 2007;298(18):2116. doi:10.1001/jama.298.18.2116

In the hours after my mother died, my father, my brother, and I sat in her hospital room on the palliative care unit. The staff allowed us to stay in the room with her body for five hours, and we took turns crying or just sitting quietly. I remember water dripping in the sink, and outside her fifth-floor window, a massive smokestack blew steam over Hartford's dreary late-winter landscape. During an organized moment, my father telephoned the director of the University of Connecticut's Willed Body Program and left a message that my mother's body was ready.