Publications

END OF LIFE

November-December 2017   | Volume 98, Number 6

November-December HP

Building Virtues in Life Leads to 'Good Death'

Building Virtues in Life Leads to Good DeathBY: Fr. THOMAS NAIRN, OFM, PhD
Recent years have witnessed a revival of the ars moriendi, the early modern Christian practice of the "art of dying" in preparation for death. Even though this tradition formally began in the 15th century, it has its roots in the Middle Ages. Essentially, the ars moriendi described a series of temptations that a person might face prior to death, along with the specific virtues that help overcome the temptations, virtues that needed to be practiced by the person preparing to meet Jesus in death.

Using medical science to prolong life, as we understand it today, simply was not possible during the Middle Ages and Renaissance. A belief that physicians had a duty to prolong the life of a dying person did not arise until the writings of Francis Bacon in the 16th century. Prior to that time, most people shared the conviction that, although the physician may be responsible for care during illness, it was the responsibility of the priest to care for the dying in order to prepare them to enter eternal life.
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Lessons from the ElephantsLessons from the Elephants

BY: ANTHONY M. COSTRINI, MD, MA, FACP
As children, my twin brother and I could not wait to see the latest episode of the Fifties TV show "Ramar of the Jungle," with its adventure, heroism and anticipatory drum beats. One unforgettable episode about the elephant graveyard, where aged members of the herd supposedly went to die, was particularly impressive in teaching 8- or 9-year-olds the fact of universal mortality.
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Reflections on Life Death and Grabbing the GustoReflections on Life, Death And Grabbing the Gusto

BY: PATRICK T. REARDON
We're born to die. I don't mean that in a maudlin way. I mean it in a matter-of-fact way. That new baby, wrapped in the softest of blankets, held gently, tenderly, in her father's arms, her eyes pensively scanning her new world — she's dying.
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Listen with Compassion Trust the Patient

Listen with Compassion, Trust the Patient

BY: KATHLEEN BENTON, PhD
Daniel, a 30-year-old man with Proteus syndrome ("elephant man disease"), was my brother. After 110 surgeries and complications of disease and treatment, our family elected to care for him at home in the final stages of his life. We promised him that we would give him our support for as long as he needed us, and we did.
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Expanding Care to the Sick and Dying

BY: ERIK G. WEXLER, MBA
Portraits line the walls of Providence TrinityCare Hospice in Torrance, California — photos that resonate because the message is both sobering and uplifting. These are the faces of hospice patients as they approached the end of life with the comfort and care of loved ones.
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Guarding Charlie GardGuarding Charlie Gard

BY: Fr. GERALD D. COLEMAN, PSS, PhD
The heart-wrenching case of Charlie Gard is now well-known and widely assessed. He was born in West London on Aug. 4, 2016, to Chris Gard and Connie Yates. He seemed at first to be developing normally, but by October was failing to put on weight. He was admitted to the neonatal intensive care unit at London's Great Ormond Street Hospital, one of the world's leading children's hospitals.
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The Chaplain's Role as Catalyst for 'Good Death'

BY: LINDA F. PIOTROWSKI, MTS, BCC
What is a good death? It is both exceedingly complex and stunningly simple. It can be both individually and commonly defined. We all live with an awareness of death and the many facets of life that lead us to it. But feeling uncomfortable talking about death does not support anyone who needs to express how they hope they might die. Chaplains can be the catalyst in helping individuals and their families prepare for a good death.
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Walking on the Path Toward Peaceful Death

BY: CARRIE MEYER McGRATH, MDIV, MAS
It seems to me that the evening prayers of the Catholic Church are strangely attentive to death. In Compline, the formal night prayer of the church, we pray, May the all-powerful Lord grant us a restful night and a peaceful death. Perhaps to soothe the sting of thinking about death, we then pray that Mary be with and intercede for us, and essentially tuck us into bed.
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We Must Earn Confidence in End-of-Life Comfort CareWe Must Earn Confidence in End-of-Life Comfort Care

BY: IRA BYOCK, MD
We live and practice in challenging times. Thanks to advances in public health and treatments for hitherto swiftly fatal conditions, people in developed countries are living longer than ever before. However, during those extra years, people com-monly accumulate multiple chronic medical conditions along with the need for expert health care and supportive services.
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Holding Life and Death in Dynamic Tension

BY: DANIEL P. SULMASY, MD, PhD
Catholic health care institutions place great emphasis on the care they render to dying patients. This has been true for centuries, from the earliest Christian hospitals, to the medieval practice of the ars moriendi, to Mother Theresa's homes for the dying untouchables in Kolkata.
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Advance Care Planning Leads to Wished-For Care

Advance Care Planning Leads to Wished-For Care

BY: ANGELO E. VOLANDES, MD, MPH and ARETHA DELIGHT DAVIS, MD, JD
In the 1950s, dying often occurred at home, with family present. Today, death often occurs in health care institutions, with strangers as witnesses. "In many ways, dying has become a lot harder," writes Ira Byock, MD, chief medical officer of the Institute for Human Caring of Providence St. Joseph Health in Torrance, California.
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Extend Healing of Hearts to the Healers Too

Extend Healing of Hearts to the Healers, Too

BY: LAURA MCKINNIS, APNP
Working in the emergency room means you never know what's going to happen on any given day. It could be busy, slow or weird. Those of us who work in emergency medicine have a strange addiction to this suspense, but the risk is that something terrible will happen. And because it's the ER, something terrible often happens.
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The Value of Palliative Care

BY: MONSIGNOR RENZO PEGORARO and NUNZIATA COMORETTO, MD, PhD
According to the World Health Organization, "Palliative care is an approach that improves the quality of life of patients and their families facing the problem[s] associated with life-threatening illness, through the prevention and relief of suffering by means of early identification and impeccable assessment and treatment of pain and other problems, physical, psychosocial and spiritual."
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Parishes and Hospitals Ministering Together

BY: JAMES SCHELLMAN, MA

We live by faith, and we believe that God is at work healing the brokenness and suffering that surrounds us, especially the suffering of the sick. The price of such healing is nothing less than the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the beloved Son of God. In the Lord's own broken body, the brokenness of each of us and the world are being made whole again.
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SPECIAL FEATURE

Pathways to Convergence

BY: MC SULLIVAN, RN, MTS, JD
The centuries-old tradition of the Catholic healing ministry, carrying on the example of Christ found over and over again in the New Testament, has provided the language and myriad best practices for taking care of seriously ill people to the world of public policy on matters of health and health care delivery. Catholic health care's quality and reputation for dedicated commitment has attracted the attention and participation of many beyond the Catholic community. In their number are patients, practitioners, administrators, supporters, admirers and colleagues from the bedside to the board room to the communities served. They include colleagues in the policy world.
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FEATURE

Formation Revitalizes Health Care Ministry

BY: PATRICK GAUGHAN
The Catholic health care ministry finds itself at a critical juncture, confronted with rapidly changing business models, razor-thin margins and a brand that is being challenged by the complexities of public perception and the realities of health care delivery. We have worked hard to change incrementally — and to transform where possible. But is this sufficient to continue as healers like those that have come before us? Are we fully capable of serving as agents of Jesus and his healing ministry to those who come to us, and for those we seek out, to fully engage in the promise of the healing ministry?
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