Issues raised include the following:
- Whether people have a right to "write their ending" - for instance, should people get to choose whether they die at home or in a hospice or a hospital? Or choose how much life-sustaining procedures they receive, especially when death is expected within hours or days?
- There can sometimes be a delicate dance among patient, family members, and care teams when balancing the requests of the dying patient with the emotional needs of the family, or the belief systems of family/patient/care teams. For instance, what if the dying patient had a long-standing belief that they don't want to receive extreme measures of life support- but the adult children of the patient remember the strong, resilient parent who would have "fought against anything?" What if the dying patient is in extreme pain and they are ready to accept the inevitability of their death, but the family want more time with him/her? Whose wishes should the care team honor?
-How excruciatingly difficult it can be for family & care teams to witness and acknowledge the suffering of the patient/loved one.
- Some members of care teams talked about what an honor & privilege it is to help patients pass away while they are in their own home, instead of a hospital setting.
- Poignant lines from the Sophocles readings include a statement by the son of a dying man, who said, "I am pained by your pain." This line was referred to frequently during the post-reading discussion.
- Another poignant line referred to the dying person's wish to be "seen" by their loved ones - a deep desire for recognition & acknowledgement.
- How some people in chronic or overwhelming pain refer to their pain in the 3rd person. The pain might be spoken of as "she" or "it" and sometimes the pain seems more than the person, as in "There is no more me, only it," referring to how the dying person no longer feels autonomous and is taken over by the pain.
- Some care team members discussed patients who ask for euthanasia treatments and whether they are denying themselves the 'gift' of self-discovery by consciously experiencing their dying process. What do you think?
- We briefly discussed how these complex end-of-life decisions can be further complicated by patients who are suffering from dementia and may be unable to understand what is happening to them.