News and Notes: Medicine and Mortality

Jul 22, 2014 | 0 comments

It’s been a busy few weeks in the debate over physician aid-in-dying. Both doctors and clerics have weighed in on a current debate in the United Kingdom’s House of Lords over a bill based on Oregon’s 1997 Right to Die legislation.

Desmond Tutu

Desmond Tutu

At the Family Plot Blog, we’ve reprinted an opinion column by retired Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who has worked all his life for the dignity of the living and now advocates for the dignity of the dying. He wrote about his friend Nelson Mandela’s terminal medical treatment and called his prolonged death “an affront.” This opinion column in the British Medical Journal, “Why the Assisted Dying Bill should become law in England and Wales,” says it’s the right thing to do and people want it.

The law is based on the idea that people should be able to exercise choice over their lives, including how and when they die when death is imminent. We already accept people’s decision to reject life-saving treatments, if they have the mental capacity. An elderly lady who has no terminal illness, but believes she has become a burden to others, will not qualify for aid-in-dying.

Medicine and mortality are intertwined. There’s a very thoughtful opinion column by Dr. Craig Bowron titled “Our unrealistic views of death, through a doctor’s eyes.” Video resources listed below help illustrate what ICU life-saving technology and Cardio-Pulmonary Resuscitation (CPR) actually look like in action. It’s not like they make it look like in the movies and on TV. A video describing hospice and palliative care is also included.

Please consider these resources and have a conversation with your family about your preferences before someone ends up in the Emergency Room. And of course, write down your advance medical directives if you haven’t already done that yet (about 75% of the U.S. population).

Upcoming events and a humorous quote follow. Please call me at 505.265.7215 if I can be of assistance!

Gail Rubin - Live Long and Prospe

Gail Rubin, The Doyenne of Death®, at Congregation Albert Cemetery – Live Long and Prosper!

Live long and prosper,

Gail Rubin, CT
Certified in Thanatology:
Death, Dying and Bereavement
The Doyenne of Death®

Informative Videos

Two weeks ago, I did a blog post on Videos that Demystify Hospice and Medical Procedures. You can read the article or jump to these sites:

ACP Decisions videos are not currently available for individual use.

The television show The Balancing Act did an eight-minute interview demystifying hospice with with Jennifer Sheets, Senior Vice President of Clinical Operations for Gentiva Health Services.

A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die devoted episode 11 to hospice, palliative care and end-of-life issues. You can view a snippet of that show, and the DVD set of the series is available at

Upcoming events with Gail Rubin, CT

Thursday, July 24, 2:00 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. IN ABQ  “A Good Goodbye” funny film clip talk on funeral planning issues at David Specter Shalom House (free). 5500 Wyoming Blvd NE, Albuquerque. RSVP to Brittany Coats, 505-823-1434.

Wednesday July 30 through August 1 IN DENVER  Gail attends The Purposeful Planning Institute’s 2014 Rendezvous in Denver, Colorado and presents “Estate Planning, Hollywood Style.” The event brings together 180-200 individuals representing more than 20 disciplines and professions for two days of collaborative dialogue, keynotes, and breakout sessions centered on best practices for legacy families and families in business. More information on the Rendezvous.

Gail with wicker basket casket

Gail with wicker basket casket

Tuesday, August 5, 1:00 to 2:30 p.m.  Albuquerque OASIS presentation – “We Can Do That? New Trends in Death Care”

The modern funeral is changing. Learn about aid-in-dying, rising cremation rates, green burial, DIY/home funerals, alkaline hydrolysis, QR codes and celebrant-led services in this upbeat, fact-filled talk. Register for $8 with OASIS by calling 505-884-4529 (over 75 people are already registered!)

Wednesday, August 6 IN DALLAS  Gail Rubin presents at the National Funeral Directors and Morticians Association’s 77th annual convention in Dallas. “A Good Goodbye: Funeral Planning for Those Who Don’t Plan to Die” will show how comedy movie clips can open the door toward pre-need planning.

Thursday, August 7 10:00 a.m. to 11:30 a.m. IN DALLAS  Gail Rubin presents “Jewish Funeral Traditions on Film” at the Aaron Family Jewish Community Center, 7900 Northaven Road, Dallas, TX. Free to attend, contact Heather Cordova to register: 214-239-7125 or email HCordova [at] Sponsored by Liberty Mutual Insurance, Quraishi Law Firm, Sparkman/Hillcrest Funeral Home & Cemetery, and Windsor Senior Living.

Saturday, August 9, 2:30 to 4:30 p.m.  Albuquerque Death Cafe NEW LOCATION at Swiss Alps Bakery and Cafe, 3000 San Pedro NE, Suite F, Albuquerque, NM 87110. Phone: 505-881-3063. More information about the Death Cafe movement. Join the Meetup group!

Wednesday, August 20, 1:30 p.m. IN ABQ  Gail Rubin presents “Doctor, How Long Do I Have?” at the New Mexico Conference on Aging at Isleta Resort and Casino, 11000 Broadway SE, Albuquerque. This one-hour film clip-illustrated talk focuses on how to have a good doctor-patient conversation in the face of a serious diagnosis.

“I know when I’m going to die. My birth certificate has an expiration date on it.” — Steven Wright

A Good Goodbye