5 ways in which it is NOT OK to die

Tuesday, 27 Dec 2011 10:31

About Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy (120 Posts)

Dr. Monica Williams-Murphy is a Board Certified Emergency Medicine Physician, who practices in one of the largest emergency departments in the United States at Huntsville Hospital. Through her writing and speaking, she is devoted to transforming the end of life into a time of peace, closure and healing. Media Page


I know that this website states “it’s OK to die” and your recent stories posted on the Message Board illustrate how and when that is the case. But, I want to tell you about 5 ways in which it is NOT OK to die. You may avoid these scenarios for yourself and those whom you love by using our checklists and resources to assure a better way when your time comes. That better way is to place yourself in the dignity-providing, comfort-focused care of palliative/hospice professionals.

It is NOT OK to die:

–As an 88 year old woman with advanced dementia with a feeding tube sticking out of your belly.  You may have to be restrained just to use the darn thing! Being confused and tied down is not the way to leave this life!

–As a 50 year old man with widely metastatic cancer, in an ICU, unresponsive, with a tube down your throat, a tube in your penis and a large IV in your neck. You do not want this to be the last vision your family has of you, and you deserve more dignity.

–As a 70 year old on dialysis with no Do Not Resuscitate/Allow Natural Death orders; because, when you die, your family may have to witness you receiving rib-cracking chest compressions and perhaps, electrical shocks-all the while thinking that you had already suffered enough.

–As an 80 year old man during your fifth hospitalization for the year. Increasing doctor’s visits/hospitalizations in the elderly often signal the end of life and no elderly person I know wants to die in a hospital.

–At the end of a long life or terminal illness receiving the “full court press” medical-style. Pursuing maximum cure-focused medicine may rob you of the quality of time needed to make the end-of-life a time of closure and peace.

I know that many will not like what I have said, but it is the truth as I know it. I suspect that many other doctors feel the same, but due to personal, social or cultural inhibitions, have not felt comfortable speaking so openly. However, the era of silence is over. The only way we can avoid the above 5 scenarios and to create a ‘good death’ for ourselves and those whom we love, is to talk openly about topics related to death and dying. That means we ALL should be discussing this: Doctors, nurses, patients, families, extended families, even neighbors. So, start talking today!      

CLICK HERE FOR A PLANNING TOOL CALLED THE PSAS (Personal Self-Assessment Scale) to help make this discussion clearer.

Monica Williams-Murphy, MD


Our Book: It's OK to Die

"It's OK to Die" is a ground-breaking book filled with graphic stories straight out of the Emergency Room illustrating how most Americans are completely unprepared for death and dying. In response, the authors have created a unique and comprehensive guide urging EVERYONE to prepare in advance, to assure their own peace and to prevent the suffering of their loved ones.
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