Ideally, we doctors must maintain that passion for life, but we must also make room for death, since every patient we treat will ultimately die from one cause or another. Doctors need to cultivate a view of life that includes the reality of death.
Death represents the ultimate unknown, a territory in which we have no experience and no control. So it is natural to feel fear when we think about death and also natural to avoid those thoughts whenever possible.
How do we go about engaging in these very important conversations when we meet resistance from those we most need to listen and talk with us? Here are some suggestions for "talking the talk" and breaking through that resistance.
We tend to think that medical decision making discussions are primarily for the elderly or for those with cancer. Yes, they need to plan, but this blog is directed at the rest of you who have completely ignored this issue.
We had never discussed my mother's wishes. She was so full of life and physically healthy that I suspect we shared a kind of magical thinking -- she would go on forever, and talking about death would break the spell. Now I am thinking about health proxies and last wishes for myself.