I'm going to die.
One day, and whether I like it or not, I won't have a choice. Neither will you, your best friend or worst enemy. If we could invest in the inevitability, we'd all be rich. The problem is; dying isn't sexy and it doesn't sell, while fear, denial and escapism is the defining hustle of our time. Di-agnosis? Death needs a makeover, a re-brand, stat!
Enter Dr. Michael Dworkind. He's the dude you want by your side when your time is up. After our heart-to-pounding-heart, I'm good to go. A renowned family physician and global peace activist, Michael is a passionate Palliative Care pioneer who believes, above all, in life before death. A child of holocaust survivors who almost checked out twice (back-packing in the Sahara and the time his car hugged a tree), this unstoppable JewBu came to the dying biz honestly and with a hopeful vision for the terminally ill: the possibility of a good death. Can you imagine?
As Michael says, death is just a split-second in time. Everything that comes before it- is life. And it is quality of life that he and his crack, multi-disciplinary team celebrate on the PC ward at the Montreal Jewish General Hospital. What happens there is healing through dying. Compassion. Finding closure, forgiveness, acceptance; saying thank you and goodbye. People get body/mind/soul care, creative outlets and the knowledge they won't be abandoned or overly burdened by pain. One young golden boy famously referred to his last months on the ward as the best time of his life. Healing is an everyday phenomenon.
It can be very joyful. Michael smiles. My hunch is his food tastes better, he cries and sings more than most, and dances into the wee hours of every day. As he tells his medical students, some of whom he hopes to recruit: Life is a chronic disease. It's terminal and it's sexually transmitted. He knows he has them if they laugh.
The good doctor writes, too: Creating Hope in a Hopeless Situation
Wherever you are, sign up for a version of Michael's pet project: The Living Will and Mandate, seize the moment and enjoy the day.