Camille on Her Deathbed
oil on canvas 90x68cm
Musee d 'Orsay
Jane Brody in her article
World Enough and Time for ‘a Good Death’
in today’s New York Times,
writes about the reach for the “Good Death”
"As sudden deaths from heart attacks continue to decline and more people leave this life after a protracted illness, the concept of a good death has become ever more important to both the dying and those who survive them."
The full article is at New York Times article
The article refers to a specific study by Dr. Karen E. Steinhauser and colleagues at the
More helpfully, the study identified six components of a good death, (described in The Annals of Internal Medicine of
- Pain and symptom management. Pain, more so than dying itself, is too often the cause of acute anxiety among patients and their families.
- Clear decision making. Patients want to have a say in treatment decisions.
- Preparation for death. Patients want to know what to expects as their illness progresses and to plan for what will follow their deaths.
- Completion. This includes reviewing one’s life, resolving conflicts, spending time with family and friends, and saying good-bye.
- Contribution to others. Many people nearing death achieve a clarity as to what is really important in life and want to share that understanding with others.
- Affirmation. Study participants emphasized the importance of being seen as a unique and whole person and being understood in the context of their lives, values and preferences.
This study says that dying can, and should, be a much less painful experience for many more people and their loved ones than it now is.
Is it necessary to add a reminder about Living Wills and Treatment Advocates?
In Search of a Good Death: Observations of Patients, Families, and Providers
Karen E. Steinhauser, PhD et al
Annals of Internal Medicine - American College of Physicians
16 May 2000 - Volume 132 Issue 10 - Pages 825-832
Link to Annals of Internal Medicine