There has been a recent court case that has me thinking about and I encourage all of you to think about what is a Natural Death.
The current court case I am referring to is the Winnipeg man that was found guilty of criminal negligence causing death. His sentence will be handed to him later in July.
After his father and sister had died in hospital, his mother requested of her son to allow her to die at home. His mother suffered from dementia. In November 2014, she fell out of bed and couldn’t get up. He claimed (and I believe him), that his mother told him to not call an ambulance, that she wanted to die at home. The son was the main caregiver for his mother and he left her on the floor beside the bed for more than three weeks.
He wanted to fulfill her wish: No outside help; no hospitalization. He tried to continue caring for his mother by giving her nutritional supplement drinks. She died at home three weeks after falling from her bed.
But this was not a pain-managed, dignified natural death.
How can we as families ensure a natural death at home, without a family member being charged with a crime? How could this mother and her son ensure she died at home by a natural, dignified pain-managed death?
First, there needed to be a written document signed by “mom”: what her wishes were (and what she didn’t want). She and her son needed to understand that family and medical professionals will need called in to ensure the pain is managed and that the dying is dignified.
The son should have called for an ambulance or the mother’s doctor, to ensure she was stabilized (why did she fall? Were there broken bones?). And health care professionals could have had her pain managed. Then she could be returned to home or remain at home with palliative care (medical professionals visiting often to ensure her pain was managed and that she was cared for properly to prevent painful bed sores).
Also, the son should not have given his mother nutritional supplement beverages. This extended her dying and may have made her even more uncomfortable (her body would have struggled to process this food).
If you are interested in learning more about a natural death and other subjects we need to discuss as we get older or as our family members get older, I invite you to attend an upcoming Death Café.
A Death Café is about an hour of informal interactive discussion with like-minded people wanting to have a frank and open conversation about end of life topics.
If you are unable to attend or do not want to attend, but want to learn more, please stop by my office and borrow a valuable book called “A Better Way of Dying”. I’m certain you will be enlightened as much as I was when I read it.
To find out more about Death Café, you can check out their website: deathcafe.com or give our office a call. If you want to be on our contact list, give us a call or send an email and then we will contact you to reserve your seat at one of our upcoming Death Cafés.
Anni Markmann is a financial advisor who specializes in personal income taxes and estate planning. She works, lives, and volunteers in our community. Contact Anni at 204-422-6631 or Anni@SteAnneTaxService.ca or 36 Dawson Road in Ste Anne (near the Co-op).