Putting Maggie Down – Dr Hammerschlag Speaks Out On Death & Dying

I just spent a glorious week disconnecting from my ordinary workaday world and escaped to paradise…northern Lake Kootenay in the Canadian Rockies. I was there with my wife and dear family friends staying in a gorgeous mountain home where our major decisions were whether we had wine and hors d’oeuvres before or after the bocce-ball game, or what garden greens to pick for that evening’s meal.

Along with the house came with three big dogs, including Maggie, a 20 year old Black Lab mix nearing the end of her life. She was virtually immobile, spent the day sleeping only getting up to eat, drink or relieve herself.
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Dying Getting in the Way of Health Reform?

“Perfect health is the slowest way to die.”

Apparently many medical students learn this bromide early in their education. It simply points out that none of us are getting out of here – alive. It also points out that as good as our health care system may be technologically our view of dying exacerbates our health cost problem. If we keep you alive today by some expensive medical therapy – you will die tomorrow of something even more expensive to treat.

If we were really interested in controlling health care costs we would encourage smoking, overeating, and other risky behaviors.  Cost control works best if we actually reduce life expectancy. 
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6 Things To Do When You Are Dying

Keynote Speaker Dr. Carl Hammerschlag
As a much requested keynote speaker and expert on the topic of aging and end of life, Dr. Carl Hammerschlag is frequently asked about his philosophy on dying.  As a result of that question, he wrote down 6 philosophical things to do when you are dying:
1 Approach your dying like you live your life – with curiosity, courage and connections
2 You don’t have to be sure about everything; open yourself up to the mysterious
3 Look beyond your limitations.  Find even one thing you can still do, and it will help you find a way to live every day with joy
4 Never lose your sense of humor – there is nothing you can’t laugh about
5 Make your death mean something; leave good footprints
6 Say goodbye is saying hello to another awareness perhaps even contentment
When he shared these with his good friend, Elisabeth Kuber-Ross, author of the groundbreaking book, “On Death and Dying.”   Elisabeth responded, “Why do you talk so much? 
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