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A Piece of My Mind
January 19, 2016

What Would Mom Want?

Author Affiliations
  • 1Vacaville, California
JAMA. 2016;315(3):261-262. doi:10.1001/jama.2015.13326

I am not a physician or a nurse. I have no clinical training, and, until the fall of 2013, I had never seen anyone die. I also didn’t understand that dying is a process and can go on for days.

When my mother received a diagnosis of end-stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease in 2012, my siblings and I agreed to let her define her end-of-life journey as best we could. She raised five children, most of the time as a single parent working two or three jobs in order to provide for us. We felt a huge debt of gratitude, so this was the very least we could do at this most vulnerable time in her life. When asked about her health care wishes, Mom responded simply, “Quality over quantity!” We came to appreciate that what constituted quality was our mother’s alone to define.

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