There have been many research studies viewing the perception of a good death from the viewpoints of health professionals such as hospice co-ordinateurs and nurses. Almost nothing is known about dying patient’s preferences and no outcome measures using the concept of a good death are available to demonstrate the value of terminal care.
According to text; clear decision making, pain and symptom management, preparation for death, contributing to other persons, accomplishments, and affirmations of the whole person all are components of a good death (DeSpelder & Strickland, 2011, p. 574). The terms respectful death or an appropriate death are alternative ways of defining a good death.
A good death could be viewed as the natural path of faith commitments made in one’s early life. Robert Kastenbaum stated, “Individuals should be spared extreme mental, spiritual, and physical suffering at the end of their lives” (DeSpelder & Strickland, 2011, p. 573). Poets, professors, priests, and plain folks all speak out about what makes a good death
A Death of One's Own (2000) is a segment that unravels the complications underlying the many choices at the end of life. Narrated by Bill Moyers, the viewers are taken for the bedside of the dying to the obverse line of efforts to expand end-of-life care. Not only does the terminally ill patients struggles with the topics of physician assisted suicide and pain relief that could speed up death, but also the caregivers.
Jim Witcher, an independent-minded man, veterinarian and horse breeder, looking forward to a happy retirement with his wife Susie. Once diagnosed with ALS (Lou Gehrig's disease), Jim had to make drastic changes and decisions. As the disease progressed, he decided not to receive excess treatments such as a respirator or feeding tube. He remained at home under the care of his wife Susie; wanting to die with dignity and painless death; a good death.
Nevertheless, the decision-making is taken away. His doctor would not administer the final dose of medication Jim wanted to end his life, nor did the state of Louisiana legalized physician assisted suicide. Furthermore, Jim’s wife faith would not allow her to help in granting his wish.
In Oregon, Kitty Rayl was diagnosed with terminal cancer and chose hospice care at home. She stopped chemotherapy and radiation and did not accept any other excessive treatments. Like Jim, Kitty wanted to control how her way of dying. She believed that a person should decide how they should die if giving the change.
Thus, Kitty decided to take advantage of Oregon’s Death with Dignity Act allowing her to receive medication to terminate life; with dignity and at the time she chooses (A Death of One’s Own, 2000). Dr. Nancy Crumpacher agreed to provide her with means of terminating her life with dignity. Mary Kitty Rayl died before taking the pill.
Ricky Tackett a minister in Virginia is dying of liver failure. Dr. Gomez his doctor wants to keep him conscious enough to talk...