QUESTION: Could you write about the fear of dying from the perspective of a patient not willing to go on hospice due to his fear of death and dying?
It is so sad that we have come to associate hospice with dying when in reality we are all dying. Life is a terminal illness. From the moment we are born we begin to die. The time we are receiving hospice services is one of our final acts of living. Every breath we take is an act of living, including our last breath.
We are all going to be afraid to some degree when it comes time to die. Fear is a normal and natural part of facing death. Some of us are just better able to face this challenge and fear than others. We will face this challenge of dying in the same manner we have faced our other life challenges. Some of us will deal with it directly, others with denial. It looks like the person in the question is facing their challenge with denial. That is the bigger issue. Not that they won’t agree to hospice (whether they are on hospice or not, if they can’t be fixed, they will die) but that they are in denial of what the medical profession is suggesting is a certainty.
What can you do? Recognize this has nothing to do with hospice and everything to do with fear of dying and death. Be a support person, listen, be there. Try to get them to talk about their fears. You don’t have to have answers just a good listening ear.
Yes, hospice would be great for anyone facing the end of their life but they have to come to it on their own terms, with knowledge and hope.
Hospice helps people live the best they can. It is about living until we are dead. Unfortunately, most people are like the person above and associate hospice services only with death so they miss out on a support which creates better quality of life during our final act of living.