The Art of Dying Well by Katy Butler

The Art of Dying Well by Katy Butler

Author:Katy Butler
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Scribner


If you are nervous about hospice, I suggest beginning with an “informational meeting” or an “evaluation intake appointment.” Think of yourself as conducting research, and separate that from your decision-making. If you like going online, you can compare local hospice ratings at the “Hospice Compare” page of Medicare’s website. Ask around about friends’ experiences, phone at least three hospices, and observe how you feel during the phone calls. Did you get the information you needed? Were you rushed or listened to? It won’t make you die any faster to explore what hospice has to offer. You may even, like Mary Jane Denzer, feel better and live longer.

Are you still hoping to benefit from curative medicine, or reluctant to say goodbye to doctors who have helped you through difficult times? That’s fine. Hospice won’t cover their services, but you can pay out of pocket, or forgo hospice and get support from a physician house call program, or an outpatient palliative care or advanced illness management program—if you can find one.

If you forgo hospice, and a hospital continues to be your medical option of last resort, accept the fact that this may very well be the place where you die. You will face a different set of challenges to a peaceful and meaningful death; the next chapter will discuss how to bring a sense of the sacred into circumstances there.

But beware: dying in a hospital can be traumatic to the dying and to their survivors. Avoid it if you can. Survivors of people who die in an ICU suffer higher rates of depression, post-traumatic stress, and prolonged, complicated grieving. In the words of Anna Reisman, director of the Humanities in Medicine program at Yale School of Medicine, “[It is a] bizarre fact that most hospital deaths are handled by the youngest and least-experienced doctors.” Saving lives is a hospital’s specialty. Supporting a good death rarely is.


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