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What Doctors Wish Their Patients Knew About Death

This is a true story.

A man just in his 40s went to see his doctor. The man knew he had cancer, but with unforeseen issues popping up the doctor sent him to see an oncologist again.

A series of tests were performed and a bunch of specialists were brought in. The original doctor went back to see the guy in hospital, shook his hand, and said I’ll see you in a few days.

Once the results came back the doctor was aware that this man would not live long. He would be gone, forever, and his family would grieve. But this is what that doctor said about this reality, “Telling him what this all meant, how it was almost certain that he would die sooner than he thought, proved too difficult.”

This can never be easy; never mind how many years you’ve put in as a doctor. But it’s also the reality for a lot of people that work in the medical profession.

In the case, we just mentioned the man was very close to death just one month after he experienced those new issues. It can be especially hard telling someone who isn’t very old that their time is almost up.

The end of life is rarely simple, and sometimes the professionals can’t say how long someone has got. Sometimes they get it wrong and the person makes a recovery, but more often than not when someone is told they are going to die the end will come soon enough.

Sometimes the patient can be very confused, perhaps not fully understanding what is really happening. Sometimes legal documents have to be signed, and anyone who’s had to go through that with a dying person will know it can be difficult and heartbreaking.

This person might have been offered treatments, but at times they will be told there is nothing that we can do. Right now we just want to make your last days, or months, as comfortable as possible.

This is what is called palliative care. This kind of care is just a way to treat end-stage patients who might have various diseases. It can give them a good quality of life during the end in accordance with their circumstances. It should help this end be peaceful.

This can also be a very difficult time for loved ones, watching their brother, sister, wife, husband, best friend, have their last threads of mortality snipped by the day. At times the patient may not be able to communicate, either because of medications or the disease itself.

With some cancer patients there can be good days, good hours, when the patient suddenly looks better and does start chatting again, but then loved ones may become saddened again when the next day the person is in bad shape again.

So, now on to the question, what do doctors wish patients knew about these end days?

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