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Monday, January 4, 2010

To our everlasting gratitude: Advance directives

Ginny Nagy's story:

To the editor,
Your article about "drug-induced sleep" and "terminal sedation" was especially timely for me.

My mother passed away peacefully on Dec. 10 in Nathan Adelson Hospice here in Las Vegas. She had fallen at home the week before and broken three ribs, lacerating her liver in the process. She was 94.

It became increasingly clear that she would not recover from the resulting complications. Our goal was to make her comfortable and free of pain, which thanks to her and the hospice, we did.

The process of "terminal sedation" was gently presented to us. Kind doctors and nurses helped us every step of the way to our everlasting gratitude.

During this time, my sister and I faced tough decisions, but these were made at every turn with my mother's wishes having been clearly stated in writing. Both of our parents had put in place written advance directives. So I was saddened to read in your article that many families facing these situations still do so without knowledge of the family member's desires.

At the end, my sister and I, while suffering profound grief, believed that we made the right choices and that our mother died as she would have wanted.

Advice: Save your children the agony of making life-and-death decisions on your behalf at a time of huge stress by writing an advance directive.

Read a story about a hospice musician. Thanks to Ginny, and the editor of the New York Times for publishing Ginny's letter today.

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