Hospice & Palliative Medicine

… acknowledgment of the personhood of sufferers and affirmation of their condition and struggle have long been recognized as the most basic and sustaining of moral acts, whether among the friendship and kin network or in patient—physician and other professional relationships. The laying on of hands, empathic witnessing, listening to the illness narrative, and providing […]

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… and suicide. On watching “It’s a Wonderful Life” last night, I was struck by many things. But maybe most of all by the accuracy of its portrayal of the suicide. As Paul McHugh says in The Mind Has Mountains … “Most suicidally depressed patients are not rational individuals who have weighed the balance sheet […]

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The capacity to give one’s attention to a sufferer is a very rare and difficult thing; it is almost a miracle; it is a miracle. Nearly all those who think they have this capacity do not possess it. Warmth of heart, impulsiveness, pity are not enough. In the first legend of the Grail, it is […]

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“The most serious of the evils that afflict the world these days are youth unemployment and the loneliness of the old. The old need care and companionship; the young need work and hope but have neither one nor the other, and the problem is they don’t even look for them any more. They have been […]

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“ … the point that obsessed Sophocles’ Antigone: that to not bury her brother, to not treat the war criminal like a human being, would ultimately have been to forfeit her own humanity.” Daniel Mendelsohn in The New Yorker “Unburied: Tamerlan Tsarnaev and the lessons of  Greed tragedy”

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I am a nurse, and this week I met a fifty year-old lady, who was admitted to my ward because she had muscular dystrophy which had caused her to become paralyzed and unable to breathe. Already the day she was admitted, she had grabbed my arm and had told me: “Let me die!”. The other […]

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… read about the witness of Canadian teenagers before the “Dying with Dignity” commission and learn why Canadian journalist Laureen Pindera said “these people speak not simply about what treatment to give their patients, but about how they accompany them in their journey of suffering. They speak about how to love them.”

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… on our attempts to fix everything with drugs … “Ours is an age in which the airwaves and media are one large drug emporium that claims to fix everything from sleep to sex. I fear that being human is itself fast becoming a condition. It’s as if we are trying to contain grief, and […]

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Listening … is the capacity to be present before the other, leaving him all the space he needs to manifest himself. The silence of the listener is an offered, given silence. Listening is a kind of creation, because in listening to someone we allow him to be himself, we collaborate in the revelation of who […]

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The 2012 French film Amour is a powerful, realistic portrayal of one spouse’s care and love for the other in the twilight of their lives … in disability and decline … nearing death. Georges is an attentive and loving caregiver to his wife Anne, declining in her ability to care for herself as she suffers […]

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