Our unrealistic attitudes about death, through a doctor’s eyes

We all die. Here’s just a snippet from this doctors’ experience:

…Sometimes an estranged family member is “flying in next week to get all this straightened out.” This is usually the person who knows the least about her struggling parent’s health; she’ll have problems bringing her white horse as carry-on luggage. This person may think she is being driven by compassion, but a good deal of what got her on the plane was the guilt and regret of living far away and having not done any of the heavy lifting in caring for her parent.

via Washington Post.

I’ve seen this many, many times in my ED; the child of the nearly-deceased who has been doing all the caring comes in, says essentially ‘let them die comfortably’, then come in the ones who haven’t been doing the work, haven’t seen the daily decline, and they browbeat the first into a retreat. ‘I think I misunderstood, we need to do everything’ they say to me while watching the floor; my job is nothing compared to the needless suffering they’ve consigned their dying parent to experience.

Shame on us for making dying foreign, and not the end of a life well spent.


  1. stress W/O making any difference @gruntdoc:Our unrealistic attitudes about death, through a doctor’s eyes: We all die http://t.co/SNBUi7tgLQ

  2. “@gruntdoc: Our unrealistic attitudes about death…We all die. http://t.co/BNHUcAIxWK” So true,recognition both as MD and family carer !

  3. Our unrealistic attitudes about death, through a doctor’s eyes http://t.co/UjhU0zsrTJ

  4. Steve Lucas says:

    My sister still blames myself and our parents for our youngest brother’s death due to liver failure caused by drinking. She had not seen our brother in years and made no attempt to see him in the hospital before his death, but this was still all our fault.

    These situations impact a family long after a loved one has passed.

    Steve Lucas

  5. It is hard enough for the caregiver to come to terms with the loss of their parent or loved ones, I have witnessed families torn apart by this very situation and it is not pretty. Should we not just let them die with a little dignity still intact. Instead for whatever reason we have to to pull every last bit of life from them purely for selfish reasons.

  6. It’s sad to read this though I experienced the same situation just few months ago when my grandfater passed away. My mother has lived far away from him and only make it two months before he died. And seems like two months were not enough for her for spending the time with him and she is the one that feel guilty the most.