CHARLES D. ARING, M.D.
Students of medicine receive little (if any) specific instruction in the care of the dying. This likely reflects the conflicted feelings of physicians (and society) about it. Studies reveal that physicians are afraid of death in greater proportion than patients.
The physician's role in caring for the dying has been defined by Feder: "I don't have any idea how to help a person to die, but I am sure we can do much to help a person to live until the time of death." This living, as any life, should entail dignity, respect, and humanity. The immediate threat of dying is isolation, a condition that a hospital, as an agent of society, does much to impose.
To be graceful among the dying requires the physician to become aware of his feelings about death. With energies neurotically encumbered, graceful use of the self is not likely. Death can be natural if we will make it so; it is not a taboo surrounded by disapproval or shame.
ARING CD. Intimations of Mortality: An Appreciation of Death and Dying. Ann Intern Med. ;69:137–152. doi: 10.7326/0003-4819-69-1-137
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Published: Ann Intern Med. 1968;69(1):137-152.
End-of-Life Care, Hospital Medicine.
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