End of Life | Hektoen International

Rosencrantz, Guildenstern, and their doctor are dead

Joshua Niforatos & Gregory Rutecki Cleveland, Ohio, United States (Spring 2018)   ROSENCRANTZ: “Whatever became of the moment when one first knew about death? There must have been one, a moment, in childhood when it first occurred to you that you don’t go on forever. It must have been shattering – stamped into one’s memory. […]

Death and dying

Tolani F. Olonisakin Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, United States (Winter 2018)   Memento mori, remember death. Photo Credit: Southtyrolean, Stencil art. Seville, Spain. Six weeks after I turned eighteen, I lost my father. I was told he died of a cardiac arrest. One minute he was reading the morning paper, and the next minute he lay sprawled across […]

The last talk

Inge Marry Shikangala Windhoek, Namibia (Winter 2018)   Alike but Different, by Inge Marry Shikangala, 2017 In April 2016, I took my father to Engela State Hospital at the northern border of Namibia. This was the nearest hospital, but still twenty kilometers away from where my father lived. My two cousins helped me get my […]

Dance with death

Marianne Rogoff Kentfield, California, United States (Winter 2018)   “All that is important is this one moment in movement. Make the moment important,vital, and worth living. Do not let it slip away unnoticed and unused.” ― Martha Graham Stephanie lived alone in a rented cottage at the back of a garden path. When she was dying […]

Cold autumn nights

Maria Magdalena Geanovu Stroesti, Romania (Winter 2018)   Veronica Geanovu, on the right, with her grandson, Alexandru, on the left. One of the last walks in the park, enjoying, as it is, the mild weather and remembering her youthful past. It is said that balance exists, that for every misery an equal amount of happiness […]

Unfinished business: end of life care and regrets in the films of Akira Kurosawa

X.M. Griffiths Tuckahoe, NY (Winter 2018)   Director Akira Kurosawa (center) with actors Takashi and Miki Odagiri on the set of Ikiru (1952). Billy Rose Theatre Division, The New York Public Library. Death and mortality were recurrent themes in Akira Kurosawa’s works but the director examined the issues most acutely in the films Ikiru (1952) […]

The dying room

Gregory O’Gara New Jersey, US (Fall 2017)   Gregory O’Gara Turbulent Souls, 2017 Oil on canvas Private collection The first Sunday in December was a typical winter day; cold but clear, leafless trees, overcast sky. It was the kind of morning I dreaded as a child, having to get out of bed and go to […]

Is Daddy a good doctor?

Gregory W Rutecki Cleveland, Ohio (Summer 2017)   Tears at Calling Hours George Lundberg posed an intriguing question for a generation of physicians: why don’t more doctors go to the funerals or calling hours of their patients?1  In fact, he boldly predicted that the only funeral you can be sure your physician will attend will be […]

Breese Nursing Home: an exploration of humanity and love

Ellen Jantzen Newport Beach, California, United States (Spring 2011)   I attended a nursing home Christmas party at the Breese Nursing Home in Illinois the week before Christmas, 2010 and was very moved by the residents and their families; it was a life-changing event for me. Before, while visiting my mother-in-law, I would divert my […]

The end of sight at the end of life

Vincent P. de Luise  (Fall 2015)   Physicians find it difficult to confront and accept end-of-life issues in their patients because their professional education and ethos inform them to do all they can do to treat disease and prolong life. This is particularly difficult for ophthalmologists, who for decades have proudly trumpeted their splendid victories […]