INSIGHTS ON DEATH & DYING: Saying the wrong thing

March 2004 
Volume 34  Number 3
Pages 67 - 67
  PDF Version Available!

© 2004 Lippincott Williams & Wilkins, Inc. Volume 34(3)             March 2004             p 67 Saying the wrong thing [INSIGHTS ON DEATH & DYING: METASTATIC CANCER]


Joy Ufema pioneered the role of death-and-dying specialist at Harrisburg (Pa.) Hospital in 1973. She's currently clinical specialist at Upper Chesapeake Medical Center in Bel Air, Md., and at Harford Memorial Hospital in Havre de Grace, Md.

At the transitional care center where I work, we occasionally admit patients who have advanced cancer. Last week I cared for a woman who had a pathologic fracture of her humerus. I wanted to boost her spirits, so I told her not to focus on dying because we're all going to die. Then I said, “After all, I could walk across the street tomorrow and get hit by a car.” She didn't respond, and I'm afraid what I said, though well intentioned, wasn't ...

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