The more time I've spent in the company of pregnant women and their partners, studying ethnographies of midwives, and hearing freshly trained doctors' accounts of delivery clinics in various parts of the world, the more I've come to understand that our collective birth narrative is by no means a universal one.
There are so many positive stories of people who are able to live out their final weeks and months with dignity and comfort because compassionate and highly trained hospice teams are there to provide comprehensive care, from pain management and skilled nursing to help with processing personal end-of-life goals and emotions.
An excellent death as the capstone to a life well lived requires some forethought and planning. But what if a patient is unresponsive and has not previously expressed or documented his/her wishes? The "15-Minute Test" is a helpful guide for those who have to make end-of-life decisions on behalf of their loved ones.
To have an interest in death and dying does not imply a morbid fascination with the end of life. It suggests a deep reverence for the life we are all lucky to live, even if only for a short time. In assisting individuals and families through the dying process, we are also showing them how to continue living.