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expert-perspectives

UMN Experts: How to talk about dying

Dying is an uncomfortable topic of conversation. No one wants to bring it up, not even our doctors. Unfortunately, this leads to miscommunication about how a person wants to die.

In fact, about 7 in 10 Americans would prefer to die at home, but only about a quarter of them actually do.

“There is a fundamental disconnect between what happens and what we want, and that stems from a lack of communication about dying,” says Frank Bennett, MDiv., senior fellow in the University of Minnesota Center for Spirituality & Healing and former hospital chaplain and minister. “Most care providers frame the conversation around therapeutic interventions, because that’s their focus, but patients think in terms of goals, hopes and fears.”

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expert-perspectives

The ethical debate over doctor-assisted dying

Sixty-eight percent of Americans support doctor-assisted death. But in a field dedicated to the mantra ‘do no harm,’ it can be tricky to define ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ in the debate.

“Doctor-assisted death is a gray area that’s defined by personal values,” said John Song, M.D., M.P.H., associate professor in the Center for Bioethics and in the department of internal medicine at the Medical School.

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