Thursday, February 20, 2014

The Pain of Deception....

"What tormented Ivan Ilyich most was the deception, the lie, which for some reason they all accepted, that he was not dying but was simply ill, and he only need quiet and undergo a treatment and then something very good would result...

This deception tortured him - their not wishing to admit what they all knew and what he knew, but wanting to lie to him concerning his terrible condition, and wishing and forcing him to participate in that lie." - The Death of Ivan Ilyich

When I was young, many aspects of illness and dying were kept secret, not because it was thought necessary to shield children from life's unpleasantness, but because society struggled even more than today with acknowledging the inevitability of sickness and death.

A disease such as cancer, back in the 1950s, was more like a sham
eful family secret to be whispered among relatives and friends than a medical condition.

In recent decades, though, through the efforts of hospice and other health care providers, the subjects of death and dying are opening discussed on television and around dinner tables. Those who are ill, and those who are not, talk with loved ones about what they want at the end of their lives and prepare advanced care directives.

As a result, needless suffering for those at the end of life and their families has been significantly reduced.

Which means that this is not only an opportune time to live, but also in which we are more likely to die with the dignity and respect that is our due.

What is your experience with open and honest conversations about illness and death with family members and other loved ones?

This blog entry was written by Dennis Sparks, Arbor Hospice Volunteer. You may contact Dennis by commenting below or emailing him at

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