Why do I say “Dying is not a Medical Event?”

First let’s clarify the word dying. Aside from the fact that we are all dying a bit with every breath we take, that life is a terminal illness, there comes a time when the body’s breathing, functioning ends.

The above is the time I am referring to when I say dying is not a medical event. It is the days to hours before death actually arrives. 

The months before death and the weeks of labor before death is when the body is approaching death but not actually dying. I know: semantics, but some people are wondering.

In the months and weeks before death, medical intervention and medical tools are an active part of care. Pain management, skin care, mouth care, and bowel and urine care are all a medical part of the care needed. Doctors and nurses play an active role in this care. 

If there is pain (not all diseases cause pain), then pain management will be a big part of physical and medical care. Nurses and physicians will assess and manage symptoms as part of their medical care. Skin care and mouth care gets medical attention. 

It is in the days and hours before death that care shifts. Care becomes communal, interactive, guidance centered. You don’t need a doctor or a nurse. Medical care is not the issue. Supportive care is what is needed. Care for the watchers

The person who is actively dying is so removed from their body that there isn’t much doctors and nurses can do for or with them. The person is in the last throngs of the labor to leave this world. They are giving the “final push” to leave their body. Only they can do that.

At this important time you need someone knowledgeable in the dying process. A person who understands what this releasing moment is about. A person that can guide those present. A person who can address the fear the watchers are experiencing. Who can neutralize the fear. A person that can be a “conductor” of those present to help them have a sacred experience with their special person’s last moment.

This is what end of life support and guidance is about. Not the medical but the communal, supportive, knowledgeable guidance.

Something More...  about Why do I say “Dying is not a Medical Event?”

On part 2 of my comprehensive 3 hour video, THIS IS HOW PEOPLE DIE, I talk about how to "conduct" the last hours before death with the family.  


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Perfectly said. In hospice nursing I always tried to employ Jean Watson’s theory of Caring with a family. While I provided emotional care through the whole process, there is a definite shift when medical care is minimal (typically only including comfort measures) and spiritual or emotional care thoroughly takes over. It’s a beautiful transition as I see every part of the dying process as something to be blessed to be part of. People in their most vulnerable state bless a hospice nurse with allowing them into their home and heart with this precious moment. It’s overwhelmingly beautiful.
BK Books replied:
Hi Tory, Yes, the nurse, patient, family relationship during the ending of life process can be so special. That positive relationship will become a part of the sacred memory the family will carry with them. Thank you for the work you are doing and for sharing your thoughts with me. Barbara


Yes yes yes!
BK Books replied:
Thank you, thank you, thank you. Blessings! Barbara


Barbara, I can say absolutely that of I hadn’t read your series if books prior to my mum passing, neither she, I or my sister would have had the experience we did.
As a semi-medical person, I was hung up on the interventions and what we and the doctors needed to ‘do’.
After reading, it became a truly human event that we were able to understand, take an active part in and ensure a peaceful and pain-free journey for the greatest lady who ever lived.
I can’t thank you enough. You changed everything.
Grateful and heartfelt thanks.
BK Books replied:
Thank you Jacalyn for your kind words about my work.The help you found is what I wrote them for. Blessings! Barbara


Hi Barbara:
My beautiful wife passed away about a year ago. When I craved information about Dementia you were there. And that helped me so much. I was there with her when she took her last breath. The others had left the room. It was my wife’s last gift to me. It was the greatest privilege of my life taking care of this beautiful woman. Thanks for easing my pain.
BK Books replied:
Hi Augie, Your wife did give you a gift. A gift you are treasuring. Blessings! Barbara


Thank you, Barbara. Your explanations are so beautifully expressed and encouraging.
BK Books replied:
Thank you Terry for the kind words. Blessings! Barbara

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