An 87 year old patient of mine will be dying soon. She just had a brainstem stroke, with bleeding. She is now unconscious and her breathing pattern is becoming abnormal. She doesn’t have long. Her family is very present, which is a wonderful thing, but is sadly not always the case. They are understandably despondent, as the death of a loved one is always hard, even if she is old and frail.

As a doctor, there are some things that can be anticipated and prevented. But not everything. Not this sort of thing. And there is no cure. If she gets better, it is mostly due to the grace of god: nature and the human spirit. But that is unlikely. The best we can do at this point is to provide for her general comfort with kindness, and to be a comfort to the family as well.

I am grateful to have been invited into these intensely personal moments in people’s lives for the last 25 years. I am grateful for their trust and confidence, honored really. I am a person that longs for connection, and these moments are certainly that. I just might have the best job in the world, hard as it is sometimes.

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