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Rights of the Dying

Recent times have shown an increasing interest in death and dying. Far from being morbid, this interest reflects a growing need to understand this natural process, to take an active role in the circumstances of our death, and to find meaning as the end of life draws near. Hospice care has been a strong leader in seeking answers to these questions, and in providing the care we need during this time.

Noted author and hospice authority David Kessler has written extensively on the needs and rights of people who are at end of life. His book The Needs of the Dying: A Companion for Life's Final Moments provides a comprehensive list of what is important at end of life. This list includes:

  • The right to be treated as a living human being.

  • The right to maintain a sense of hopefulness, however changing its focus may be.

  • The right to be cared for by those who can maintain a sense of hopefulness, however changing this may be.

  • The right to express feelings and emotions about death in one’s own way.

  • The right to participate in all decisions concerning one’s care.

  • The right to be cared for by compassionate, sensitive, knowledgeable people who will attempt to understand one’s needs.

  • The right to expect continuing medical care, even though the goals may change from “cure” to “comfort” goals.

  • The right to have all questions answered honestly and fully.

  • The right to seek spirituality.

  • The right to be free of physical pain.

  • The right to express feelings and emotions about pain in one’s own way.

  • The right of children to participate in death.

  • The right to understand the process of death.

  • The right to die.

  • The right to die in peace and dignity.

  • The right not to die alone.

  • The right to expect that the sanctity of the body will be respected after death.

Enchanted Sky Hospice recognizes and respects the needs of the individual at end of life. Our holistic approach includes addressing emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical needs, recognizing that each person is unique and significant, from the start of life through life's final moments.

Reprinted from“The Needs of the Dying” by David Kessler. Harper Collins Publishers (1997/2007)

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