March 7, 2012
Though death is the most inevitable fact of life, our social systems are broken when it comes to caring for people with advanced illnesses.
Americans are scared to death of dying. And with good reason. While rarely easy under any circumstances, we make dying a lot harder than it has to be.
A large majority of Americans still die in hospitals or nursing homes. Many suffer poorly controlled pain or other physical miseries and endure their final days feeling undignified and a burden to others.
Few of us can even imagine how things might be different. Therein lies the crux of the problem. Our society and mainstream American culture have never grappled with the fundamental fact of mortality; therefore, we do not know what to expect or what is possible. When someone we love is diagnosed with a life-threatening condition, the worst thing we can…
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