The Ultimate Bravery Of Dying Patients
The things that seem to matter so much during the prime of life suddenly become trivial at the end of life. The intended purpose of this article is to discuss some of the lessons that dying patients can teach us if we are willing to learn.Funny how you'll plan every aspect of every trip except the most important one you'll ever take (NHPCO, n.d.). The process of dying is a deeply personal, inevitable, and unique journey that every individual will make at some point in the circle of life.
I have always held the deepest admiration for patients who are approaching the end of their lives in an accepting manner, for they are facing their vulnerabilities, fears, and questions about their own mortality with great courage and dignity. These dying patients can bestow profound lessons and teachable moments upon those who are willing to listen. And all of us should take the time to listen.
Material possessions and careers have mostly lost their importance when one is dying. Think about it. Patients who are resting on their deathbeds do not obsess over the custom granite counter tops in the kitchen.
They do not worry about the fate of the big screen television. They do not seek comfort in the luxury car that might be parked in the driveway. They do not want to embrace the expensive artwork that is affixed to the walls of the mini-mansion. They do not wish to surround themselves with shiny jewelry. They do not beg to return to the workplace for another shift.
Money is transient; it comes and goes.
Material things eventually lose their luster.
Jobs and careers come and go.
The things that were so significant during one's youth suddenly become so insignificant when one is dying. On the other hand, the accumulation of experiences, relationships, bonds, and memories will be what truly holds meaning to the patient who has reached the end of life. The most basic of all human needs is the need to love and be loved (Schuler, 2010).
In summary, here are some lessons I have learned from these astoundingly brave patients who are confronting their own mortality. The consumerist lifestyle will leave a person with an emotional void without any deeper human connections. The person who works many hours or multiple jobs to accumulate nice possessions is really depriving himself of the time and opportunity to pursue the things that truly count, such as relationships with family and friends.
Living comfortably means placing less emphasis on money, career, and material things and assigning more importance to the joy of human contact, memories, and pursuits. People should amass more experiences and less things.
Alas, the best things in life really are free.Last edit by Joe V on Jan 14, '15
About TheCommuter, BSN, RN Moderator
TheCommuter is a moderator of allnurses.com and has varied workplace experiences upon which to draw for her articles. She was an LPN/LVN for four years prior to earning RN licensure.
Joined: Feb '05; Posts: 38,034; Likes: 69,298
CRRN, now a case management RN; from US
Specialty: 11 year(s) of experience in Case mgmt., rehab, (CRRN), LTC & psychJul 17, '12as it turns out, research shows that nobody really does lie on their deathbed and say they wish they'd spent more time at work.Jul 18, '12I couldn't agree more w/ the things you've posted here. I've observed so many of the same things w/ hospice/palliative care pts in the hospital. My most memorable experiences as a nurse have been w/ these pts & I have learned so much from them. Thank you for sharing.Jul 19, '12I tried to remind myself & the ones I love that when were laying there on our final days we won't have wished to have worked more but instead have spent more time with the ones who have loved us.
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