A friend alerted us to the recently posted TED talk given by Dr. Peter Saul, an intensive care physician in Australia. The problem of frail elders’ lives artificially prolonged in the absence of clear instructions about end of life wishes is not simply an American problem. Dr. Saul’s research in Australian intensive care units illuminates the difficulty families everywhere experience at the end of life if there are no instructions and no history of open discussion about these tough issues.
Deaths made difficult by inappropriate medical intervention are not only inhumane and expensive. They leave their mark on those closest to us. Caregivers may be left to struggle with many difficult feelings in the aftermath. The guilt–did we really do our best? The fear–is this how we will die?
Dr. Saul encourages us to “occupy death” by making our end of life instructions clear through the appropriate legal instruments and through ongoing discussions with family members and caregivers. We leave our loved ones a roadmap of how to address their own deaths through our actions at end of life.
See the whole TED talk.