It is unfortunate that Sarah Palin’s irresponsible dismissal of end-of-life counseling as ‘death panels’ has created more sound than light on how to deal with terminal illness. She has taken advantage of people’s fear of death while preventing substantive discussion on how to make the dying process more comfortable, less painful and less full of fear.
My wife Emily’s grandmother, Betty Jean Seal, died last week, in her own bed, surrounded by family who prayed and sang for her in her final hours. It was as she wished. Having received helpful advice and support from a variety of sources, Betty Jean was able to decide the surroundings in which she would die. She wanted to be close to family, friends and community, rather than isolated on a hospital ward. She wanted to be in the house that she had lovingly dusted, swept and vacuumed for decades.