Palliative care needs better PR

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  1. Darren Cargill

    Ok, this is an article that should stir some debate 🙂

    Look forward to your questions, comments and maybe even a gratuitous insult or two.

    • Shani DeShield

      Fantastic article. As a hospice nurse I completely agree. We can avoid discussing death for sure, but we cannot avoid experiencing it. So, why pretend and make the inevitable harder than it can already be?

      • Darren Colin Cargill

        Thanks Shani.

        In an effort to broaden the acceptance of palliative care, we may have done it a disservice. I feel we can still talk kindly and compassionately about death (sometimes sarcastically) but we need to talk about it nonetheless.

  2. Philip A Russel

    I wholeheartedly agree that we need to tweak our approach. I look forward to hearing some suggestions so that we can get on with promoting end of LIFE and perhaps redirect some of the community and corporate support that seems to be set on auto pilot towards kids. (Maybe the WE scandal can send a wake-up call!)

    • Darren Colin Cargill

      Thanks Philip.

      I have written many times about how we neglect end of life care in medicine.

      We all die. It’s a fact. That’s why we need to make sure patients have access to high quality palliative care.

  3. Janis Bisback

    We need more laughter about death. Waiting to hear Deb Kimmett from Napanee area @ comedienne who is doing a night with local hospice ,as a fundraiser. It as postponed due to Covid.

    • Darren Cargill

      Thanks Janice.

      Exactly. The more we make death and dying a taboo subject, the more we prevent the conversations that are necessary for better EOLC.

  4. Brenda canitz

    Great article! I am looking forward to exploring some of these resources

    • Darren Cargill

      Thanks Brenda. Make sure to check out the links in some of my previous articles as well!

  5. kathleen stansfield

    Perhaps when people start accepting that they are going to die when and if the time comes for palliative care is seen to be needed they will demand a more positive approach to how the patient is dealt with both physically and psychologically
    Above all the need to be assured that they will not b allowed to suffer pain once it becomes too severe.
    The present system in the UK leaves that until even the medical staff can bear that pain any longer

    • Darren Cargill

      We do live in a death fearing/denying society. Yet we all die, it is part of the human condition.

  6. Julie Saeger Nierenberg

    Loved the humour throughout your post! I agree wholeheartedly with all your points. When my husband was dying of pancreatic cancer, in Toronto, he received excellent in-home visits and support from a palliative care doctor, daily IV nurses, an occupational therapist, and a social worker. When he needed a hospital bed, bedside commode, wheelchair, etc., these were provided free of any extra charges. This level of care should be the norm for everyone, everywhere. I dedicate much of my writing and publishing to advocating for “cultural comfort” around the topic of death. Now with Covid-19 in the picture, I can only imagine that at-home care planning AND advance directive discussions with one’s physician and loved ones should be on everyone’s agenda. Thank you for your article. (See some of my books and blogs at

    • Darren Cargill

      Hi Julie,

      Glad you enjoyed the article, and I’m glad your husband got good care.

      Sadly, not everyone does get that care. Please see my article about the postal code lottery of palliative care.

      Thanks for the link!

  7. Karen Henderson

    Dr. Cargill, as an aging and long term care planning specialist I send you huge kudos for this article. Trying to get Canadians to face the need to plan for long term care (a hair-tearing-out experience at times) is a cake walk compared to convincing people to plan for end of life. I will adopt your strategies when educating about advance care planning.

    Thank you!

    • Darren Cargill

      Thanks Karen.

      Kudos for what do.

      I simply share what I find works for me. And given the average length of stay for LTC is 2 years, we are not that far apart!

  8. Kathy kastner

    More cowbell Yess! (one of my fave SNL) says it perfectly 🙂 As a patient partner/advisor in several end of life initiatives (and author of Death Kills..and other things I learned on the internet) humour is my modus operandi. (I often quote my hub who said, “if you die before me, I’m never talking to you again.”) But never was humour/light-heartedness as relates to this tricky topic of palliative care,end of life more evident than in my experiment: I take a Whiteboard with me with a fill in the blank: “I want to ___ until I die.” Neither a bucket list nor something aspirational but rather a reflection on what small thing brings joy, comfort, happiness. Every single participant smiled when completing a board – even tho it was about dying (Darren, one day, perhaps you, too, will fill in the blank 🙂 I am puffed with pride that thematic results are now published! ..

    • Darren Cargill

      Thanks Kathy, your whiteboards are famous.

      You are so very close with the cowbell.

      Who is the band and what is the song?

      • BA

        Don’t Fear the Reaper by Blue Oyster Cult.
        Love the article…we need more humour…thanks for your voice.

  9. Cherie Baxter

    This article is refreshing. When palliative care is confused is confused with fears and crises around not-so-palliative deaths then everyone is stuck in fight/flight and mute on the topic of death. Humour, play and fun lifts us out of stuckness and drama and begin to regulate and function with relatedness and flexibility. We need to “play” with death – and this needs to be a new cultural norm.

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