As discussed in other chapters, death is a taboo topic of discussion and western societies have become death-denying or death-phobic, often resulting in a lack of death-related conversations. Although we may wish to avoid it, death is certain, whether it be our death or that of a loved one. Avoiding death-related discussions ultimately contributes to uncertainty, discomfort, and suffering at the end-of-life. When people do talk about death, it tends to be constructed as something to be feared, fought, and conquered. Conventional perspectives of death construct ideas about “proper” end-of-life care and experiences. These often fail to take individual wishes into account and can infringe on a person’s right to choose how they want to die. This chapter examines several types of end-of-life care: palliative and hospice, including the role of death doulas. It also explores the option of medical assistance in dying (MAiD).
After completing the chapter materials, you should have an understanding of:
- The complexity of dying with dignity.
- The diverse options at the end-of-life and the differences between them (i.e., palliative care, hospice, MAID/assisted dying).
- Terminology, attitudes, and perspectives, as well as laws and policies pertaining to end-of-life care in Canada and other countries.
- How social and cultural responses/constructions of death can impact end-of-life experiences and care.
Questions to Think About When Completing Chapter Materials
- What does death with dignity, or a dignified death, mean to you?
- How can palliative, hospice care and medical assistance in dying (MAiD) help a person die with dignity?
- What are you rights under Canadian law with regard to receiving medical assistance in dying (MAiD)? What restrictions are in place that could prevent a person from accessing MAiD? What recommendations would you make for further policy change?
- Compare and contrast two examples of assisted dying laws from other countries.