Learn why hope is a powerful tool that can be harmful or helpful at the end of life.
In this solo episode I share some thoughts, concerns, studies, quotes and clips on hope and why it isn’t always a good thing at the end of life. From doctors who refuse to refer patients to hospice and palliative care because they don’t want to take away their hope, to patients who cling to false hopes and resist planning for the end of life, I’ve long been concerned that we are using hope in a toxic way in our medical system. It’s time to look at a better way to help patients find meaning and positive experiences at the end of life than just handing them empty hope.
This episode includes:
- How hope can be harmful for some people as they approach the end of life
- Study showing the unrealistic expectations of terminal patients for how long they thought they had to live
- The consequences of unrealistic hope for individual patients and the medical system
- How some medical providers use hope as a tool without recognizing the harm it can cause to patients
- How unrealistic hope can prevent patients from focusing on the present moment
- Study showing that hope has a spectrum from “miracle cure” to “peaceful death”
- Most patients want gentle honesty from their doctors but doctors often don’t recognize that
- How to “dance with death” (per Stephen Jenkinson) rather than fighting against death
- Why hope can be a superficial disguise for the fear of death
- How to help people move beyond unrealistic hope to greater acceptance of death
Links mentioned in this episode:
- Episode 309: Interview with Dr. Jody Stern
- Episode 150: Interview with Stephen Jenkinson
- Blog: Hope is Hazardous by Richard Smith
- Webpage: Hope as a Strategy
- Study on Fostering Coping and Nurturing Hope
- Sign up for the 2021 online reading group A Year of Reading Dangerously at this link
- Support your local bookstore by buying my books on Bookshop and Indiebound: 7 Lessons for Living from the Dying and The Journey from Ego to Soul
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