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Tag: death and dying

Catching Chickens

Daniel Klawitter

Morphine doesn’t do much for dementia.

I know this because my grandmother

was trying to catch an imaginary chicken 

on her deathbed.

Wanting to calm her fevered thrashing, 

my sister cleverly said: “It’s okay grandma.

I caught the chicken for you.

You can rest now.”

But my grandmother’s faded blue eyes 

suddenly sprang wide open, and fixing my surprised 

sister with a stern and lucid glare, declared:

“No you did NOT!”

And I’m

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Out of This World

Katelyn Mohrbacher

When I met Jasper, I was a third-year medical student doing a nine-month rural clerkship, and he was an eighty-year-old man in a coma.

Family members surrounded Jasper–a tall, broad-shouldered man–as he lay in the hospital bed. His wife, Esther, a petite, lively woman also in her eighties, stood by his head, grasping the bed rail. At the foot of the bed stood their son, a middle-aged man with a baseball cap on

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Sick and Tired

Paul Rousseau

“You told me you’re tired–tired of all the transfusions, and tired of being sick. Do you want to stop all the transfusions, Nancy?” I asked the woman lying in the hospital bed.

She was silent. Her husband of nineteen years, sitting nearby, was silent as well.

“What are you thinking, Nancy, can you tell me?” I asked.

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Heroic Measures

Gil Beall

“Doctor! Doctor! He’s stopped breathing!” the stout woman shouted, clutching at my white coat. 

It was 1953, and I was a first-year resident responsible that night for the patients on the medical ward–including those in the four-bed room the woman pushed me into. 

There I saw a melee taking place around a seventy-year-old man with chronic lung disease. 

The man had been examined and admitted that evening by my colleague, who’d given me

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Goodbye From the ICU

Andrew R Carey

I do not know this man. I have never met him. All I know about him are the words typed in his medical chart–and that, before the day is out, he will die.

I have never heard him speak. I probably couldn’t pick him out in a crowd. Today he looks like a water bed: yellow,

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Mom Journeys to the Other Side

William Bryan

Mom was not fully conscious when she crossed over, but I’m quite certain she was aware of both sides of the veil as she departed the realm of the living. This is a brief story of her dying. 

After my dad died, more than twenty years ago, my mom moved from our family home to live with my brother, Jim, and his wife, Barb. 

In retrospect, it was an act of supreme foresight,

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The Whole Story

Veneta Masson

After she died
there was talk of war
the stock market crashed
the cat didn’t eat for three days
her youngest came home from school in tears
her husband grew a beard.

I do not lie when I tell you these things
nor do I tell the whole story.

I do not say that her funeral day dawned bright
and unrepentant

or that all the sunflowers in the city
were gathered at her

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Through a Hollow Tube

Jan Jahner

She carries forward the bundle like a giant fish
vacant eyes above wood-smoked plaid bathrobe
hook me as we unwrap his blue stillness
words swim upstream,
I am swallowed by a wave, standing by admissions, heading out to sea.

I left mine on the rug by her sister, curled in cartoons.
Room Four has a gurney and a chair
Stained, nail-bitten fingers slide through silky dark hair
She starts again, how the cabin was cold,

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A Passage in India

Justin Sanders

“It’s cooler this morning,” I said to Seema, as we left the hospital grounds en route to our home visits.

It was a bright and bustling morning in Trivandrum, the capital of India’s southwesternmost state, Kerala. A third-year resident in family medicine, I had come here to work with the staff of an Indian nonprofit devoted to advancing palliative care services across India. Seema was a young, newly qualified junior doctor who had

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The House Always Wins

Rashmi Kaura

Death. A five-letter word. The inevitable conclusion to our accomplishments, dreams, emotions and essence. Feared and ignored by the well, acknowledged and perhaps even welcomed by the ailing.

As physicians we are constantly gambling against this inevitability, playing the odds with our arsenal of diagnostics and therapeutics. Even when the odds against us grow longer, we forge ahead, bidding to prolong life through technology and wonder drugs.

Many times, staring into the tired,

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He Plummeted

Nina Bennett

He plummeted

into madness
as if into a run
for the Olympic bobsled team,
careened, thrashed,


into the rails
of his hospital bed,
about hidden
microphones, a plot
between his doctor and Visa
to keep the cure
for AIDS secret.

Eyes darted
from window
as he yanked
his IV line,
about truth serum,
he won’t tell,
we can’t make him

He had been a nurse, took care

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Life of the Party

Veneta Masson

By ones and twos
we drift up to the bedroom–
the women of the family–
leaving the men to mutter
and churn downstairs.
This is women’s work,
choosing a burial outfit.
We have a list from the mortuary:
bring underthings
no shoes

Soberly we peer into the closet
slide open drawers
touch, handle, inhale.
Ah, I was with her when she bought this…
Remember the time?
What about a hat?
Oh yes, she

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