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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.