These Stories Are True

The names have been changed for privacy concerns. Many of the stories are difficult to read but we hope they help readers understand issues that develop during end-of-life communications.  One common theme is the difficulty getting doctors to focus on quality of life and be truthful in their explanations about the condition of the person who is dying. A second issue that can be very disconcerting is the disregard of DNR and Advance Care Directives, even when they are in place. In addition, it is clear that family and caregivers wrestle about whether they did the right thing in specific circumstances. Finally, family members were clear that legal documents need to be in place (DNR, Advanced Care Directives, assignment of a Health Care Proxy) to have a fighting chance at having the end-of-life experience that is desired.


My name is Maryann; my husband was Tom (died from a brain tumor that destroyed his frontal lobes and had started into his temporal lobes). I was very involved in Tom’s care (some hospital and facility staff may have thought I was too involved)

Continue reading Maryann's story

The Physical Therapist

I am a 65-year old Physical Therapist Assistant. I am retired now but have worked in multiple settings, including nursing homes, outpatient clinics, hospitals and home care as well, so I have a wide knowledge of end of life issues both professionally and personally.

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The Registered Nurse

I’ve been a registered nurse for 45 years and am now a Hospice Nurse. My father was an extraordinary person who had a law degree but never used it, instead working for Norfolk Railroad until he retired.

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The WWII Vet

In 2005 my dad, a WWII vet, was 80 and had already gone through a stroke, a heart attack, a quadruple bypass and had developed diverticulitis and was very ill.

Continue reading about this veteran

One Family's Grief

My opinions about end-of-life and the importance of quality of life have been greatly influenced by my experiences, starting at a young age. When I was 13, I watched my mother suffer and die from stomach cancer, leaving me, my 15 year old sister, and my 6-year old brother. Very traumatic, especially for my brother.

Continue reading about this family's experience

What you need to do next...

Make sure to have the following documents completed: Advance Care Directives (or MOLST/POLST if your state uses that), Healthcare Proxy Designation, and Do Not Resuscitate order, if desired. To find out what your state uses, click on "Your State."