Difficult DecisionsAfterlifeMourningWith Eyes OpenIntensive CareWatch and WardAfterlifeMourningWith Eyes OpenIntensive CareWatch and Ward
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To me, "quality of life" means that I would be able to interact with others in a maningful way. It means that I would not only be aware of my surroundings and oriented to "person, place, and time" but that I would be actively involved in at least some of the daily aspects of living. A living death to me would be to lay in a bed unable to wash myself, toilet myself, feed myself, change my own position, and communicate with others. I am SO much MORE than that!

My being is not limited to this body, this space on Earth, this breathing in and breathing out! I am a child of the King who does not need to cling to this life at any cost, whatever the circumstance, staving off death as though death is an enemy. Because of my faith, I know that I will pass from this earthly, limited existence into my real life in Heaven my real home. The time I am spending here is limited and I have known this and accepted this as normal and natural --as normal and natural as being born. And just as acceptable. Yes, I have known the joy of seeing another person pass from this life into another life and cried for myself because of the loss of the imtimate, daily presence of my loved one. The separation was indeed and continues to be painful. Yet I realize the day will come when the time of separation will end and that knowledge brings peace.

I tease my husband that I hope to die before him so that I won't be the one left to live on alone. He counters with "How selfish you are!" "I shall die first so that I won't have to live on alone!" We realize that the choice is not ours to make.


I am health care proxy for a woman who is without capacity in any of her cognitive areas. She has to be fed, diapered, bathed, has no speech, and no quality to her life as I understand the word. She has no advance directives and the state spent 100 thousand dollars to bring her back to "health" when she recently had a raging urinary tract infection. Something is radically wrong with this situation.


As a nurse and one who has practiced with hospice for many years, and as a mother, a wife and a daughter who lost her mom to cancer at 58 years old, I strongly support the use of advanced directives. I feel and have witnessed how much easier it is on the families when the decision is already made and the then grieving and hurting family can honestly say that their loved one made the decision. There isless guilt. But I am aware of how hard it is to follow the decisions as well. The scarey part is the way that the heaalth system tries to taint what has been already decided and often confuses the family away from making the decision already answered after much thought. Honesty and respect are two important issues often ignored with the famillies who are so vulnerable. I am grateful that my mom made her decisions before and that we respected her enough to know that was what she wanted- we loved her through a peaceful death successfully without hastening or prolonging her suffering.

Advice-Pick someone you can trust and someone who is strong enough to fight for your rights as a human being. Make sure that person knows what you want and don't want. They cannot read your mind! Discuss and be open-respect.




I am making the decisions for my husband who has alzheimers, although my children are included on all discussions regarding his welfare. We are practicing Christians and elieve my husband will go to Heaven as he professed Christ many years ago. He and I both made our advance directives about 5 years ago and since his mother had alzheimers and had to be confined to a nursing home he particularily hatedthem and stated he never wanted tobe confined to one.He had a major stroke 2 years ago and developed alzheimers himself and I had to place him in a CBRF which I know he hated but I had no choice as I am handicapped with abad back and use canes and have since had a double bypass.How does one deal with the anger he feels towards me and my own grief and guilt?


I have had chronic health problems for the past 13 years. I am 67 years of age. I would like to be involved in the passing process as I have in my staying alive process (not to every doctor's pleasure). I have 4 sons and am not able to communicate my feelings, wishes, and explain my needs as they are not available. I am going to make my own final arrangements and hope they honor and respect my decisions. I am more and more drawn to cremation. I think we all have taken our space in this world and I am no longer afraid. As so many people express, it is not the dying that is so freightening as the getting there. I have been in the hospital with oxygen unable to sleep for 3 days because of struggling to breath. I am very grateful for this relief and am trying to keep this body and spirit in as good shape as possible. I pray too that I am aware of what I hope to be the most exciting journey of my life and that I won't be hooked up to machinery. I've seen too much of this and will make eve




I did have to make the decision for my husband. He did explain to me what he wanted and i understood that, but when it happened it was very difficult. His doctor was very helpful because it was very fast the way it happened.


My mom recently passed away and if it wasnt for planning for the worse i would be going crazy right about now. As a caregiver for both my parents we discussed this matter early on so i wouldnt be left with all the decesions. If it wasnt for the living will the doctors would have made her go on suffering and she was tired of it all. As my dad watched her take her final breathe and the nurses asked if they could resesitate her dad calmly but painfully said No, to let her be at peace and pain free. No regrets. she passed away pain free and with some dignity. Please get those Living Wills!!without them they have to endure so much medical nonsense!!With them they move on to the other side at more ease being it was their wishes... miss u mom!!


Both my parents died within 3 months apart. Needless to say it was the hardest time of my life. My mother died in nursing home. She had a stroke that left her unable to swallow. I was left with the decision if a feeding tube should used. We had many discussions in past years that she did not want to be kept alive on life support. I thought I was alright with my discision.

Three months later my father was diagnosed with Leukemia. Within 6 weeks history repeated itself. My father told me to make sure he did't end up on a vent but when the time came he changed his mind. He thought he could beat the Leukemia. When he changed his mind he through me for a loop.

My mother died in March of 1999 and I still struggle with the thought of if I made the right dicision.

What makes all of this hard is if my father changed his mind in the end how do I know what my mother was feeling in the end --- if she could speak whould she have made the same dicision to continue to fight.

Sometime maybe no matter how much you talk about the subject you never know how your really going to feel when the time comes.

Thanks for letting me share - comments are welcome.

New York

I lost my mother, my dearest friend, on August 22, 1998. It was a brief illness. She was in the hospital only 27 days. One day she was doing well and the next day she was not. It was 27 days of a nightmarish hell. I find myself reliving those days over and over again, each and every day. The last 12 days of her life she was on a vent and could not speak. Then she lapsed into a coma and everything started to failon her. Everytime a doctor walked toward my family and myself my heart would fall to the floor. She was only 64 and had not been sick. It was such a shock. I have wished that I would have been able to talk with her and tell her how much I loved her... but it was too late. I will never be able to let go of her because we never said goodbye. People who are able to be with their loved ones and have conversations are so very lucky.


My mother passed away June 6th 2000. She had a living will made up in 1992, that states no life support, nutrition, etc. She had COPD,Diabetes,WAS a 8 year survivor of Breast Cancer.Her mind was sharp as a tack, but her body was failing her.The only time she got dressed was for Doctors appts. She was on home o2.I was her care giver for 2 years.The final event was she had been passing blood in her urine since Feb. I finally got my surgeon to see her.She was so weak she went to the hospital via ambulance. When I arrived she was having a very hard time breathing. The tech thought maybe she would respond better if I helped her with the breathing treatment. Then all of a sudden I looked into her eyes and I could see the horror and panic she was going through, she couldn't breath. I called for a nurse and they had to intubate her.They transferred her to Surgical Intensive care. There she was intubated, on morphine and anti-anxiety meds. They had to tie her hands down because she kept trying to pull t

In my heart and mind I struggle everyday wondering if we pulled the tube too fast.Questions I have no answers to. Could she have eventually come around?? There are so many "if's "...still. I believe the nuring staff was my ROCK during the 4 and 1/2 days my mother spent in the hospital. They told me "what better way to pass from this world or whatever you believe, than to be free of pain and have your love ones with you. They are so right. I just can't stop thinking though about the "what if's?".

I, myself at 41 plan to do a Living Will. Even though it was very hard on the family, that paper did help take some of the decisions out of our hands.

I am sure the guilt,questioning my judgement etc are normal, and they will ease with time. I miss her terribly.

Thanks you for the opportunity to share my story with you.


My mother had made clear her wishes.

She was 95 and had pneumonia. I withheld antibiotics but she lived through the crisis. She actually lived a few more months. I asked for hospice but the facility did not have or accommodate this. I found the next few months extremely difficult. Mother was depressed and I was exhausted. What was most painful to me was that no one ever talked with me, I never met her doctors. It was hard to do as she wished. But it was harder being alone.

A few years earlier, my husband from whom I was divorced died of chirrosis. I sat with him. I talked with the doctor by phone. He gave a DNR order, I felt because of the economics of the case. It was never discussed with me. Again, no one spoke wiith me. I was alone with his dying.

This series brought up more tears, more grieving. A group of old friends will meet and discuss this show on Friday. I think this is useful but painful.


thank you for such an incredible series. I am a registered nurse, and never thought I would be so moved 13 years after caring for my 26 year old brother Dan who died from colon cancer, and one year after caring for my 70 year old mother who died as a result of elective mitral valve replacement. As a former Hospice Nurse who "filled in" at the Zen Hospice Center, I thought I'd seen it all, but your series is truly a gift, and has evoked tears of joy, knowing that I did my best in caring for both my brother and my mother, despite all the odds in fighting the medical establishment, who wanted to "save" them despite the fact they were dying. To quote my brother Dan in 1987 " Mom, I feel sorry for Dr. Smith because he doesn't know I'm dying" Last year, despite the fact my mother had a living will, her physiscians kept her artificially alive. Thank God for Hospice, and the nurses who cared for her the last four days of her life at home(after lingering two and one half months in intensive care)


It is that persons own personal choice. When my father died of cancer 5 yrs ago we the family already knew his wishes, however we took him to the hospital, we thought for relief, and he never left there alive. Since we really didn't know how bad he was the hospital did not have his wishes....so it was a horrible day for us.....in ICU they did everything to keep him alive with fluids, tubes, etc.....it was not at all what we all had wanted....or most of all what he wanted. A hospital is a horrible place to go much less die......Shands in Gainesville, Fl. was horribly understaffed.....the nurses in ICU for the most part were uncaring.....rude......and lacked compassion....after he died I was trained by Hospice. I hope to never die in a hospital. I am 45 and have talked to my two sons 19 and 17 about my wishes. They also saw what their grandfather had to go thru.


My father is dying of metastatic colon cancer. Everyone in the family knows this. We are starting to talk one on one about it but not to him. Our family has never been big on open communication. Everybody hides stuff, anger covers fear, people get blamed. I think the fear now is that once we start talking to him about dying he will lose all hope and 'give up'. The doctors keep offering these treatments (chemo, surgery) with hope that the next aggressive or invasive procedure will be the one to give him some quality of life back (right now he is depressed, weak, unable to eat or rest comfortably). He is now in intensive care with a bowel obstruction waiting to see if he needs surgery to fix it. If he doesn't get the surgery he will surely die soon. He did not do any advance directive or living will. I feel so stupid for waiting and not pushing an open discussion. The last time I brought up hospice my sister and I had a vicious fight about it. Last night my brother was indignant that a


I do not agree with the ladies' descision to turn off her mom's life support against the docters. She said she does not think her mom wanted to go through rehab. Could it be that the family is not prepare to give the time and effort to provide the rehab.

My mom suffered for many years. For the last few years of her life, my brothers and sisters care for her day and night, in addition to paid nusing care. She died naturally and peacefully at the end. I would like to think we have done the RIGHT(?) thing as a family.

When my mom was in hospital, the lady besides her was there for EIGHT years in an unconscious state. I would like to think that their family have been doing the right thing, and not just being the privilege of indenpendently wealthy.

There were never a single thought of letting her died. It is not up to any one of us as her child to make that decsion for her ( to play GOD as many people put it).


I had to watch my mother die slowly from cancer! It was painful to watch the process and the suffering! Then she had a major stroke! There she laid in the hospital with a double whammy! The hospital finally started to give her morphine! After some time she died! The actual death was painful but not as much as her suffering! I believe that when it comes to the final time to go let's make it easier on all concerned! A peaceful death is the way to go! Your final memories haunt you forever!!! Thank God for the nurses!!!!!!!!!


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