Civic Agency | AASCU's American Democracy Project

We don't want to think about "death and dying" even if some have been shouting the "death and dying" talk from the rooftops. There have been thousands of news articles and speakers all across the country promoting the wonders of end-of-life care, and there is much good that can be done when dedicated professionals make their best effort to relieve suffering at the end-of-life. However, there are some who have dedicated their lives to move American society away from its traditional values, and they have not been asleep. They've been very busy for over seventy years working in the background, training others and teaching in the universities, arranging to have their ideas inserted into public school curricula.

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Hospice began as a completely volunteer effort in America. The first volunteer hospices were staffed by doctors, nurses, social workers and lay people who simply wished to provide care for the dying that was focused in a wholistic way to relieve the suffering at the end-of-life. They were inspired by the work of Dame Cicely Saunders and recognized that the traditional health care system was simply not responsive to the needs of the patients. They saw that it often failed to provide good pain relief, and sometimes used the patient to prove what medicine could do in an alienating acute care hospital setting, rather than focusing on respecting the patient's own wishes. They tried to bring about an awakened insight into the needs of the dying, and over time, their efforts succeeded.

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The assisted-suicide and euthanasia advocates are, therefore, at war with America's traditional values themselves, at war with you and those you love. Hospice, which has many representatives of both the pro-life and pro-death movements, is truly divided, though the public would never know. Mixing intentional killing with hospice is like throwing gasoline on a fire: it can only cause an explosion, injury and even death to many. Just because hospice deals with those who are dying does not mean health care workers should cause death intentionally!

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Anyone who has seen their own family member die knows how traumatic and upsetting it can be. With good end-of-life care it doesn't have to be that way, but sometimes it is. It is intense, and each family member has to come to grips with their own mortality, the loss of their loved one and the pain experienced when watching someone you love decline in health and die. The last thing they need is to have a palliative care or hospice professional act rudely or worse to them. Adjusting well to the dying and death of a loved one is so important to the mission of end-of-life care services, yet families whose loved one has been hastened to death against their will cannot grieve properly. They are wounded by the victimization of their loved one and suffer endlessly.

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The supportive care that a good hospice provides can make a big difference to those approaching death. Knowing that you will be cared for when everything seems to be closing in and having your family with you are what most of the dying want most. They want to be able to say things that were left unsaid, to share the love they have in their hearts, to patch up problems that may have arisen over the years and to say goodbye this last time.

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