On Dying Well

OPB | March 5, 2008 midnight | Updated: Sept. 10, 2013 8:40 p.m.

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How do you want to spend your dying days?

June Callwood’s Twelve Weeks In Spring: The Inspiring Story of Margaret and her Team is the story of a single 68 year old woman with terminal pancreatic cancer. After a lifetime of helping people she suddenly feels very alone and scared as her disease takes over. Her friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and even some virtual strangers change that for her by forming the “Friends of Margaret.” They gather around her to provide the care she needs in her home so she can watch spring arrive in her garden. It is a vivid, touching story of community, friendship, and death.

I recently watched as a colleague suffered a similar terminal disease. Unwilling to have her friends physically around her at home, she had us join her virtually instead. During her last days we comforted, humored, and strengthened her with stories, jokes and news shared on a blog created, and managed, for her by her son. Of course, in the end, we were the ones who were truly strengthened.

In this show we’re going to talk about how people choose to die ? at home, in a hospice, in the hospital; and the decisions that they make, or should make, to help them through their last days.

Our guest for the hour is Ann Jackson. She’s the executive director of Oregon Hospice. She is retiring this spring after years of working with Oregon, and Oregonians, to help people in their dying days.

According to Jackson, Oregon has the highest in-home death rate in the nation. And the lowest in-hospital rate.

Do you want to die in your home, able to watch the flowers bloom? Have you helped someone through their last days? Do you believe in hospice— or hospital care?

Photo credit: Daniel Doman / Flickr / Creative Commons.

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James F. and Marion L. Miller Foundation

Dawn and Al Vermeulen

Ray and Marilyn Johnson