Tag Archives: End of Life

Piano lessons

James Stemmle West Virginia, United States   Watercolor by author. The piano teacher was angry, irritable, incontinent, and in pain. Dying of cancer, she eventually went home with hospice care. The hospice lady asked, “What would a good day look like?” They rigged things in her home to live at least one good day: a […]

As my mother lay dying

Peter Meyers Washington, D.C., United States   Rosalie Smiles in Her Fancy New Hat. Photo by Judy Baxter. 2006. Via Flickr. CC BY-NC-SA 2.0 My mother was sitting up in bed when I walked into her hospital room. When I asked her how she was doing, she grinned and responded, “Super!” Her doctor, standing nearby, […]

Life lessons from death

Pedro T. Lima Recife, Brazil   Death and Life, 1918. Gustav Klimt. Leopold Museum, Vienna, Austria. Via Wikimedia “How would you like to die?” the professor asked without breaking eye contact. I averted my gaze to ponder the question, but no answers came to mind. “I’ve never thought about it. I guess that I would […]

The Lazarus phenomenon: when the dead return to life

Tom Sewe Nairobi, Kenya   Photo by Günter Valda on Unsplash It is a few minutes after 2 AM. A middle-aged woman lays motionless on a table in a hospital emergency department with tubes protruding from multiple orifices. The relentless cardiac monitor screams its flat-line signal as the code-blue team pants, scrubs clinging to their […]

The unsung heroes

Julia Angkeow Bel Air, Maryland, United States   Photo by Gert Stockmans on Unsplash The unsung heroes of hospice are the family members and friends who are there to console their loved ones when all others have gone to bed. They are the ones who never rest, constantly brooding over how to best mitigate their […]

Unfettered grief

Lealani Acosta Nashville, Tennessee, United States   Innocence behind the bangs of a child. Innocence by Lealani Mae Acosta. My first glimpse of unfettered grief was through shaggy six-year-old bangs, watching my mother weep, hunched over the toilet and framed by moonlight that cast the pale blue tiles of their master bathroom into darkness. I […]

A wrong time to die

Anthony Papagiannis Thessaloniki, Greece   Lockdown in Thessaloniki. Photo by the author. Death is the one absolute and unexceptional certainty in life. In the Bible we read that there is a time for everything, including a time to die [Ecclesiastes 3:2]. Is there ever a “right” time to die? Faced with such a question, we […]

The proximity of death

Paul C. Rosenblatt St. Paul, Minnesota, United States   A family outing at Lincoln Park in Chicago a few weeks before the author became ill. Pictured are the author, his mother Rose Rosenblatt, and his sister Doris Rosenblatt (now Kopfstein). Photo taken by the author’s father Harry Rosenblatt and published with permission of the author. […]

Goals of care

Leah Grant  Portland, Oregon   Photo by Jake Thacker on Unsplash It was the beginning of my intern year and I felt like an impostor. Facing new responsibilities in both the hospital and clinic, I was aware of my lack of experience when patients asked for my medical opinion. But as I began to see […]

One chaplain’s journey: teaching, hospice, and humanities

Terry McIntyre Forest Park, Illinois, United States   Photo by Ave Calvar on Unsplash Auburn University was an easy choice for a graduate student with two preschool youngsters. Teaching medieval literature was the draw. Later, a divorce necessitated working as a project manager in sub-contracting. When the Lutheran campus pastor in Ann Arbor wanted me […]