Can you die with dignity?

It’s not a frequent topic of discussion, but doctors die, too. And they don’t die like the rest of us. What’s unusual about them is not how much treatment they get compared to most Americans, but how little. For all the time they spend fending off the deaths of others, they tend to be fairly serene when faced with death themselves. They know exactly what is going to happen, they know the choices, and they generally have access to any sort of medical care they could want. But they go gently. …

If there is a state of the art of end-of-life care, it is this: death with dignity.

Ken Murry, M.D.

How Doctors Die | The Health Care Blog.

Healing of The Lepers at Capernaum by James Tissot, 1894

Healing of The Lepers at Capernaum by James Tissot, 1894

Working in cancer care, the idea of death permeates most days as does the idea of how to meet the reaper with dignity.

This blog post by Dr. Ken Murry – though rambling a bit – illustrates this well from the perspective of a physician.

Here are women and men who spend their lives caring for others, trying to heal wounds and disease, and sworn to prolong life – at almost any cost.

But here also are a group of people who often choose less invasive, less costly, and arguably more dignified care in the face of death. Choices that include spending time with family and friends or just comfort care.

I do have to say that I’m not 100% taken by Dr. Murry’s account. I have a feeling that many physicians, when it comes down to the line, would still fear death as much as everyone else. They are human, after all.

But it is wonderful to think that, in the end, we all could make the choice of how to reach our end. Just hop on our motorcycle and ride off into the sunset with a friend and no more worries.


Separate Note:



The caduceus, as used on The Health Care Blog and by countless hospitals,  insurance agencies, and healthcare providers, is usually viewed as the symbol of medicine.

However, this symbol, derived from the Greek as a symbol of Hermes, actually represents themes including commerce and trickery. These aren’t things you’d normally want associated with your medical care.

The modern use of the caduceus is believed to have come about due to confusions and misunderstandings, primarily in the United States in the late 1800’s, with the asklepian – the rod carried by Asclepius, the Greek god of healing and medicine.

Although Wikipedia articles should always be taken with a grain of salt (or sometimes a spoon or bucket-full), they have a pretty good article on the confusion of the two symbols.

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