The Boston Globe: Rabbi Howard Kummer spent years guiding others through wrenching life-and-death decisions. As a chaplain at Newton-Wellesley Hospital, he ministered to patients tethered to life support machines, and would later tell his wife he never wanted to be kept alive that way. But he did not get around to discussing his feelings with their three grown children, even after he was diagnosed with a brain tumor. Then he had a catastrophic brain hemorrhage that left him near death, and his children were unprepared. They hesitated when a physician suggested stopping aggressive treatment. “I knew what he wanted,” said his wife, Nancy. “I had had this discussion many times with him, but the kids hadn’t and they weren’t ready to let go.”
With death and dying, most Americans engage in a conspiracy of silence, surveys show, failing to discuss their final wishes until it is too late. A new Massachusetts-based coalition aims to change that.