When life is coming to a close: three common myths about dying
Article by Sarah Winch for The Conversation www.theconversation.com
On average 435 Australians die each day. Most will know they are at the end of their lives. Hopefully they had time to contemplate and achieve the “good death” we all seek. It’s possible to get a good death in Australia thanks to our excellent healthcare system - in 2015, our death-care was ranked second in the world.
We have an excellent but chaotic system. Knowing where to find help, what questions to ask, and deciding what you want to happen at the end of your life is important. But there are some myths about dying that perhaps unexpectedly harm the dying person and deserve scrutiny [read more]
Palliative Wound Care: A New Frontier
Article by Jeffrey M. Levine MD, AGSF, CWS-P for GeriPal www.geripal.org/
I recently completed the revised chapter on pressure injuries for the Geriatrics Review Syllabus (GRS-10) which will be coming out shortly. Part of the content addressed the topic of palliative care for chronic wounds. In my text I claimed that a palliative approach can reduce suffering, improve quality of life, and decrease health care costs by eliminating expensive and/or painful procedures and treatments, but found little corroborating evidence. In the process of revision I did an informal poll of colleagues from coast to coast, and found nobody addressing palliative care for wounds. Research in this area thus presents a wide open career opportunity for a young palliative care specialist. [read more]
Westernised systems of palliative care can be problematic, conference is told
Article by Marie McInerney for Croakey www.croakey.org
A palliative care doctor working in the Northern Territory has urged major changes to end of life care for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people, particularly in remote areas, saying the system of care itself is an “immense barrier” to equitable access.
Dr James Ricciardone, a registrar with the Australian College of Rural and Remote Health, graphically illustrated the inequities in access to palliative care in a presentation at the recent Australian Palliative Care Conference about one of his patients, a man in his 30s.
The man’s care was already limited by his late presentation to the health service with cancer, and his difficulty tolerating palliative chemotherapy, Ricciardone said. [read more]
The sacred task of caring for the dead should be a normal part of life
Article by Caitlin Doughty for The Guardian www.theguardian.com
In Cantonese village culture, there is a group of corpse handlers called the ng jong lo
. When a death occurs, the ng jong lo
come to the family home to wash the corpse and place it in a coffin. The corpse handlers are “living ghosts,”, dirty, unclean – a group who other citizens fear. Doors and windows close when they walk through the village. No one, not even priests, will hand them anything or speak to them directly. Children are kept away from the corpse handlers, who are believed to chew garlic to hide the stench of death and take perverse pleasure in their line of work. According to tradition, many are opium addicts who live together in the back of a coffin shop, the only men willing to take such degrading work [read more]
Why Grief Is A Series of Contractions and Expansions
Article by Joanne Cacciatore for Tricycle www.tricycle.org
Grief is a process of expansion and contraction that takes place over and over again.
Within this model, contraction is not wrong or bad; contraction need not be halted or controlled. Contraction is necessary for expansion—and thus, contraction is itself part of expansion.
A contraction of grief occurs when our attention and energy are pulled inward, our surroundings made smaller perhaps because, in this particular moment, we feel overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed, we contract and tighten emotionally; we conserve our energy and attention, focusing intently on grief—and on self. In a moment of contraction, it feels as if our very survival may be in question. We may feel unsteady, unsafe, unheld; we may feel tenuous, desperate, fearful, and vulnerable. In such moments, we may curl up and hold our breath. [read more]