From Healing to Hospice: The Shift Toward a Good and Compassionate Death
University at Buffalo School of Social Work Professor Deborah P. Waldrop has seen people die. Too often, their lives have ended in pain and despair, spending their final days in an alienating institutional environment, just another patient in an impersonal progression that leads to what she calls “reciprocal suffering” for families who also watch their loved ones die.
There is another way. In the decades and multiple settings Waldrop has worked with terminal patients, she has seen a growing emphasis on factors that contribute to a “good death.” People can make that life transition in a home that has sustained them for many years, surrounded by the people who have given their lives meaning. “Comfort” can be the defining goal of a death without pain and suffering.
Too often, Waldrop says, critically and chronically ill patients lack information about options for care that can lead to that “good death” scenario. Bridging that gap -- identifying what factors or “trigger points” at which important conversations should happen -- is what her latest end-of-life research is all about.
She discusses her research in a video interview:
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