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“I’m dying but they don’t think I know”

By Dorothy
Posted on

I had the conversation with my friend.

I left feeling honored to be part of this family's opportunity to have the conversation.
 Several years ago, I was caring for an elderly woman in her home (I am a RN).  Before I even got to the patient, I was met with several family members informing me I was not to tell her she was dying.  As I was caring for and talking with her the conversation came up about her condition.  I ask her what she thought her prognosis was (I didn’t say anything about death to keep with her family’s wishes).  She said I’m dying but they don’t think I know.  I ask if she would like me to tell them she knew and she responded “yes”.

I went out of the room to where the family was gathered and informed them the “secret” was out.  She then ask to speak with each of her children individually so one by one they went in and allowed her to say good-bye.   There were lots of tears as each one came out of her room but I sensed much relief as they no longer had to keep the “secret”.  I left feeling honored to be part of this family’s opportunity to have the conversation.  Since that time I have had the privilege of working in hospice care where patients and their families are encouraged to talk openly and honestly about death.

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