Intended for healthcare professionals

Practice A Patient’s Journey

The last wish of a patient with end stage chronic obstructive pulmonary disease

BMJ 2008; 337 doi: (Published 08 December 2008) Cite this as: BMJ 2008;337:a2701

Death Be Not Proud (John Donne)

Life and death are inseparable. From the moment of birth we begin to die,
because our cells are programmed to grow, mature, and die by a process called
apoptosis. But nevertheless, death often comes as a surprise, even to doctors
and nurses, who try to forget that every symptom, injury, or sickness is yet
another memento mori. The burden of life and death is too heavy for
the medical profession to cope with by itself. In order to alleviate this burden
and improve patient care, doctors and nurses should have interdisciplinary
conferences with clergy, philosophers, psychologists, sociologists, and other
non-medical experts, who can help to illuminate and mitigate the universal
paradox of life and death - the danse macabre.

Competing interests:
None declared

Competing interests: No competing interests

22 December 2008
Hugh Mann
Eagle Rock, MO 65641 USA