Jeanne Ellin: dying in hospital

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Dying in hospital: a common fear

Hospital corridorDeath does not scare me or my friends, but the prospect of dying in hospital does.

At sixty-seven I have made peace with the reality of death, though I enjoy life and hope to have more of it. Death is either a long dreamless sleep without pain of heart, mind or body or the beginning of an adventure. I’m ok with either option, though have a strong preference for the adventure.

I have been a nurse for decades and latterly worked in a hospice where I learnt more about the daily joy of life and the need to savour it.

So dying with the quality of care hospices offer – tender, skilled and humane – would not frighten me. Dying alone in my small flat does not frighten me either.

The fear of being helpless, thirsty, suffering with bedsores, lying in my own waste, feeling my mouth sour from lack of cleansing, now that does frighten me. Friends have had recent experience of hospital stays. They too had loving friends and family, but there were long hours alone, being cared for without compassion, with bullying and emotional unkindness. And that frightens me.

Jeanne Ellin

About Jeanne Ellin

I am a poet working at living a creative life in a one room flat, companioned by a menagerie of chronic health problems. I began this series of posts after being inspired by two women younger than myself, who, fearful of their imagined old age spent in ill health and poverty, committed suicide. I explore every year as a bonus of adventures, with moments of discomfort or fear, but with unexpected treasure to be found - helped by a sense of the ridiculous, a world perspective and creativity.

  • Sue Potter

    Thankyou for telling it as it is! I too dread the prospect of dying in hospital~ or a Care or Nursing Home. How many of us hope to have a final illness which wd qualify us for hospice care?
    However, the situation is many, many times worse & more frightening for those without family or close friends. Even a short hospital stay can be extremeky. frightening, lonely & stressful. Fear of the future can affect one‘s quality of life, and increasingly so as one ages
    I feel there is an urgent need for some kind of organisation to fill the many roles performed by relatives of those in hospital, especially in end of life situations

  • Dear Sue, thank you for your support I think your idea is a good one perhaps Silver voices might take this up? They are a online information/ pressure group for older people they campaign and petition government. Perhaps we could have a designated ‘official friend’ to take on that role because many of us have friends as old and frail as we are.