Fear of Dying

Life is good.  It’s not just a logo on a t-shirt.  Life really is good.  Ask anyone and you will get all sorts of positive responses.  As a medical school professor once said “it is widely held and deeply rooted that living is better than dying.”

On any day, even a bad day, you can probably name some wonderful things that are happening in your life—the garden is growing, the kids are doing well, payday is coming up, or “I’m just glad to be alive.”  If life is good then dying must be bad.  They are opposites.  If death meant only the absence of life, that would be bad enough alone. 

Death is a mystery.  For most of us, based on our faith, death is eternal nothingness or eternal heaven or hell.  However, death and dying is more than just the absence of living.  We know that about 10% of people who die do so suddenly and unexpectedly.  They don’t have a chance to look at their dying process. 

While the rest, about 90%, have an illness or a medical condition that will eventually take their life.  They have time to look forward at not only their death but the dying process as well.  With dying, comes the fears that most people share.  The fear of dying with pain or suffering.  The fear of dying alone, isolated and lonely.  The fear of dying in a place that is cold, sterile, and uncomfortable like an intensive care unit.  There may be other fears related to family dynamics or financial issues.  Perhaps individual fears based on faith and religious concepts.

At Covenant Hospice we understand these fears.  Even though every individual may have their own doubts, fears, and concerns most of the fears are commonly shared with patients who are nearing the end of their life.  In fact, when hospice patients are asked their three top wishes we find that their wishes are directly related to their fears of dying. 

In surveys the number one wish is to have pain control.  Patients have a fear of pain and suffering and they wish to have their suffering controlled.  The number two wish is to be in the company of their friends and families.  Patients do not want to die alone.  They want companionship and they want humanity surrounding them so they feel the comfort of love and support.  The number three wish is commonly stated as “I want to die at home.”  Most folks who are facing the end of their life want to be surrounded by their belongings, their favorite chair, their TV programs, their books and music.  Hospice understands how the fears of dying and the wishes for comfort, family, and home go together and we work together with the patient and family to ensure all needs are met.

 Eventually for all of us mortals, no matter how wonderful the medical care is, we will all come to the end of life.  Medical professionals can’t stop the dying, but hospice can certainly comfort the fears associated with it.

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