How Doctors Tell Patients They’re Dying | Being Mortal | FRONTLINE

How Doctors Tell Patients They’re Dying | Being Mortal | FRONTLINE


(siren wailing) NARRATOR: When serious illnesses
take us to hospitals, we look to doctors for answers. But what happens
when there are no more cures? – Do you want
to call her daughter? NARRATOR: Zara Cooper
is an emergency surgeon with palliative care training at Brigham and Women’s Hospital
in Boston. She frequently must deal
with patients surprised that they’re nearing
the end of life. – It’s certain that
everybody’s gonna die. There’s no certainty as to when. It’s not clear from the CT scan
what’s going on… And frequently,
as an emergency surgeon, I’m meeting somebody
for the first time, and they have no idea that they
could die from their disease. Whether that’s because nobody’s
told them or they’re in denial, I don’t know,
but it’s always a surprise. NARRATOR: Clyde Earle
has been undergoing treatment for advanced cancer for a year. He’s now suffering
with intense pain. The prognosis is not good. – Well, you’re in good hands
here with Dr. Cooper. – I know. NARRATOR: Dr. Cooper
wants to talk to Mr. Earle and his wife Audrey
about what comes next. – So the rumor has it you guys
are newlyweds, is that right? – Yeah, in March. – That’s great. Now, what happened before you
came in to the hospital? – One morning, I had so much
pain, I could not take it. I was in deep trouble
with pain. – About 3:30 in the morning. – What I discovered was that
he and his wife had the expectation that
he had many more months. – So let me ask you, what do we expect to happen
after you leave the hospital? – We’re going fishing. – Okay. – We’re going up
to the house in Maine. And then after Maine, we’ll go back
to the house in Florida. – Right. – Now, has anybody
talked to you about hospice or having hospice nurses
take care of you? Is that part of the plan? – When and if we need it,
I know the procedure. – Yeah. When I said “hospice,” it was
as if I was talking to somebody who only thought that hospice
would be necessary when he was just about to die. My impression was that
that was the goal, was to get him to hospice. I think the lesson learned
is that you have to ask. You can’t make those assumptions
because oftentimes, patients and their families aren’t at all
where you think they are and aren’t at all
where you think they should be. NARRATOR: But Zara Cooper had
at least started a conversation about the end of life. – We are here to take care
of you, okay? – Okay. – All right. NARRATOR: As Clyde Earle’s
condition worsens, Dr. Cooper brought in
Kathy Selvaggi, a senior palliative care
physician whose expertise is
in end-of-life care. She would now take up
the hospice discussion. – She and I had a conversation
about goals of care, and… – When Dr. Selvaggi came down
to the ICU to meet them, I said, you know, “You’ve got
a lot of work to do.” She said, “I know.” – It was really important
to take his wife aside and talk about
what I was seeing. – Hi. – How are you, Audrey? – Let’s not even ask questions
like that. – I know, I know. Clyde, good morning. – (moaning) – It’s been… like this. (whispering) I don’t like it. – I know you don’t. – I don’t like it at all. – It is a process, and I think, you know,
it is very hard to come to the realization
that you’re dying. These are really important
conversations that should not be waiting
the last week of someone’s life. I’m not sure I’m gonna
get him back to Maine. – We’re not. Let’s face the truth. – I don’t think we are. – No. – I think he’s gonna be here
with us. – Yeah, I know he is. I guess I was in my own world,
thinking if they could fix. In my heart, though,
I knew better. I knew what was ahead. And I didn’t share it with him. – It’s those moments
when people show that they want
to talk about it. Once somebody gives you
that kind of opening, in palliative care, we’re
trained to take that opening and to identify that as a moment
where you can help somebody, whereas I think the natural
inclination is to say, “We’re gonna get him better
and you’re gonna get him home,” because it makes you
feel better. – I love you. – I love you. – I love you, honey.

100 Replies to “How Doctors Tell Patients They’re Dying | Being Mortal | FRONTLINE”

  1. We are all dying…..just take a huge handful of magic mushrooms 🍄 and you’ll be fine….but we are all dying right now….so there I told everyone ✌️

  2. the woman doc STILL never SAID "U ARE ABOUT TO DIE" and being in this situation myself tight now i can honestly say THAT is the reason for ppls MISUNDERSTANDING of their situation not denial or anything else. doctors skirt around it SO much n never actually SAY "those" words "YOU ARE DYING".

  3. When my sister was sick the Dr took me to a room told me she was dying and he specifically asked me to tell her , she had got sepsis from the cancer and in a matter of minutes got really sick so I sat there and told her and I think it was more for it to sink in my head than for her because she was really gone mentally and she died 4 days later age 40 then less than 3 months later I recognised the signs with my dad and lost him . I just hope wherever we go it’s better than here xx

  4. One of the only reasons I wouldn’t be able to work in a hospital is that I would have to see people die and see their loved ones next to them grieving.

  5. It's crazy, how we are here. I once never existed and will not exist again. I'm 22 I wasnt here 22 years ago , I dont remember being alive.

  6. I watched my grandmother die while on hospice and it was the hardest thing I ever had to watch. But she left her body with me and my mother by her side peacefully. We told her everyone was waiting for her. Hospice doctors and nurses are incredible human beings.

  7. That's got to be hard to say to a person your going to die in the hospital you got to have a strong mind RIP to those who have died

  8. I went to the ER because of a head injury and there was an old grumpy man positioned right beside me. Didn't really look over to him or anything until a young doc started asking him questions about his suicide attempt. First he gave grumpy answers but then he said "what's the point, I'm so lonely". He told the doctor that his wife of 47 years recently died. Broke my heart into a million pieces, just like this one.. 🙁

  9. My mom died 24th feb 2019 due to complications with cancer. Atleast I tried my best to care for her in the hospital. She died fighting for my 8 year old brother for 4 years.I miss her so damn much, all we can do is pray for their forgiveness to god

  10. I'm 55 and found out I had skin cancer. Melanoma , that spreads quickly. when my doctor called me personally sounding scared when they got the test back that confirmed this and told me to call this cancer doctor, I was scared as hell. You start thinking about death and the bad things that are to come. I was very worried for about 4 days and prayed about it. I made a deal with God that if he made it nothing and go away that I would start reading the Bible cover to cover. I saw the cancer doctor and he told me to his surprise it had shrunk and was almost nothing. Nothing to worry about…….. I'm now halfway through the old testament.

  11. Very very sad. The only part to this scenario that is good is that they grew old together. A lot of people loose the loves of their lives early. To experience life to an old age is a blessing. Or curse. To watch your closest ones fall away before you would be heartbreaking.

  12. 3:53 we are all dying right now. Let’s face it while we still have the strength to wring some value out of this life. Help everyone that needs it, and live for today.

  13. Our life was a gift by Almighty God, to worship Him, and to return to Him after death.

    We were given an entire life full of chances to be righteous, and to leave a good legacy behind. Yet, many of us just waste their lives in evil, and their ends are being doomed in the hell.

  14. I don't know why I was recommended by YT & I don't know why I even watched it. Gave me flashbacks, made me cry & sobbed uncontrollably. What creeps me out is that today is the day my father passed in 2016, why would they or how?! Smh. Brings back so much memories of when both my fathers fought long & hard with cancer. They carried & helped carry me throughout my life. I am thankful & blessed to be able to have the opportunity to do the same when their time came. I carried them till the end of their beautiful yet sad journey. To see Clyde & his wife like this broke my heart. Seems like he had an amazing hospice nurse. The words his wife spoke, crushed me. Wished I can just give her a big hug. My father was blessed to have an amazing medical team that cared for him for 5 years. Each & everyone of his medic teams loved him dearly as he loved them the same. It is a hard field to work in, who's to say that they don't have emotions?! Not all doctors, nurses or hospice nurses are meant to be there for the people. Some are there for the bread. After intense research, I was able to bring together a phenomenal group of medic teams for my father. They all teared up & cry throughout the times they cared of him. They taught him many things & in return he did the same as much as he can during that rollercoaster ride. He never complained & joked around to helped lighten up their days. They gaved him tremendous amount of unconditional loves. The bonds that they had is definitely something that I will always cherish till my last breath. Knowing that they gave it their all, it has helped me cope, embrace & moved forward with my life. I know that they didn't have to but they did cause they cared. They went out of their way for my father many times over. Blessed all their beautiful souls. They are my real superheroes & I wish that there were more like them out there! May both my fathers & Clyde rest in paradise. Thanks for sharing your story ma'am. ♥️

  15. People need to stop giving death any pleasure of pain and understand we all have a beginning and end. No one lives forever. Have peace and live the best you can.

  16. My grandfather passed away from complications of non hodgkin's lymphoma a year ago. A devout christian and a farmer he had spent over 20 years as a missionary in Bolivia. When the doctor told him the cancer had returned 3 months prior to his passing, he was given options. He decided he was done fighting and was ready to go home. He told my mother, I'm ready to go home to meet Christ. He was on hospice care for his last couple months to help with pain management. But he refused to be in a hospital, he wanted to stay at home with my grandma. I miss him very much, but I'm thankful he had such a great life and was able to do the Lord's work. We are all certain to die, mortality is our price for life. Thank you to those who were there to help ease that transition, I know he wasn't in pain.

  17. My mother died in hospice care at home with her 9 children 2wks ago.
    She has Alzheimer's, stage 4 Kidney disease, and blindness due to diabetes.
    There is nothing like watching your mother die slowly all the while she did recognize any of her children, she was just like a two year old.
    When she died 2wks ago Saturday morning at 6am I died too.
    It especially hurt me because I was struggling with the fact I just got out of rehab months before.
    I suffer traumatic brain injury, doctor found a huge tumor near the frontal lobe near memory part of the brain.
    The 48 staples across my hair from ear to ear makes me cry everyday the dents in my head is a constant reminder of my injury.
    I'm having some memory lost at times, but the sight of watching the funeral home attendant put my mother in that body bad and taking her away will forever be in my mind and heart.
    I see a psychiatrist and see team of suicide prevention team at least 2 twice a month.
    I'm having guilty thoughts as to why I'm alive and she is dead.
    We all just lost our father months before, that too was horrific he died of cronic COPD and heart failure.
    To all those who has lost a love one be strong surround your self with family and friends it helps.🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽🙏🏽

  18. When you truly love ❤️ someone no matter what the circumstances are it’s hard to let go,you hug and love them as much as you can forever until GOD calls you home

  19. Depends on the patient and the situation, but the best way is almost always to be blunt, direct, and to use simple words. Most appreciate that.

  20. We need better pain drugs or allow euthanasia cuz when I get old I don't wanna be in constant pain until my very last breath 😖

  21. educated idiots. i know doctors dont tell family that their loved one is going to die coz 1 is dying coz of a disease and others die with the news doctors break in their ears that you patient is not going to make it. give hope till last moment. dont upload such videos plz.

  22. Studied psychology for 4 years, I am ready to graduate in February 2020, I read "about death & dying by Elizabeth kubber, she done her own research in a hospital with patients who are dying. She said; it's a shock of course, denial, anger, bargaining, depression, & finaly acceptance are the 5 different stages a person will go through when facing death in the face. 🙏😑🙏

  23. This reminded me of when the doctors came out and tell me and my family that my grandfather had too much brain damage to survive without being on machines the whole time, then we took him off life support the day after, he always lived fishing like Clyde probably did and we live in Maine.

  24. This is sad to learn you never really think about how you die… when you do everything turns dark in your life and you wish it’s not real. It just hits you in the fac

  25. Idk, I would not want to live through the pain and prolong my life with no quality left. Just stick a fork in me. I’m out ✌🏽 it’s cruel for the family to watch you die a slow and painful death :(. Life is so beautiful yet so unfair.

  26. I had a severe medical condition and no one told me. My wife knew because they told her. I survived and didn't find out about my serious condition until a stranger told me. I spoke to him about my experience.

  27. Last year, my uncle in my native country of Sweden had been complaining to my aunt because he was always tired and sleeping a lot. One day, he was out changing tires on his car. The next day, he woke up with an excruciating headache. It was so bad that my aunt took him to the hospital. There, doctors performed CT scans and MRIs. It turns out he had malignant tumors from an aggressive melanoma in his brain and in his spine. There was nothing they could do for him. He went home a few days later and, a couple of months later, passed away peacefully in his sleep. He was 79. He died peacefully at home. The last thing he wanted was to wind up in a nursing home and that did not happen. The only wish he did not get was seeing his 80th birthday. Oh well. He died a happy man. My parents went to the funeral but, due to work, I could not get away. However, I flew to Sweden for a two week vacation last summer with my parents. We stayed with my aunt for about 5 days. She took us to my uncle's grave and that was a catharsis for me. I cried and cried. It was a form of closure for me. I felt like my uncle was telling me not to be sad and that he was in a good place. That's my story.

  28. I know how she feels, and I feel so terrible she had to go through that. My grandpa passed away in July..in the hospital. And I remeber that one night when my dad came home from the hospital, it was about 3 am and he had told us that things weren't looking good. That was the first time I saw my dad cry..and a few days later my grandpa passed. At least I got to tell him I loved him 😔❤

  29. Atleast he had her side in his final moments don't know who will be beside her when she will be counting hers last minutes coz the one who cares is already gone! Hope she leaves with no pain what so ever!

  30. Geez Mr Earle was old. We are the most death denying country on earth. I’m 72 and I will not struggle to live. His wife isn’t far behind him. Death is inevitable and we really need to work through a process of acceptance of the ending of life on this earth.

  31. He's had a long life he's gotten a lot more time than many people have gotten about 50% of my friends died before they were 40 years old in their eyes this man has lived two lifetimes but that doesn't matter if you're 18 or 80 when you're dying it's never going to feel like you have enough time kind of like the end of your weekend it's now Monday morning and you're headed back to work but it was just Friday a minute ago where did The Weeknd even go I have a feeling when you're on your Deathbed life is going to feel a lot like that you're going to ask yourself where did it go

  32. "My dear doctor, is it true he is dying? Then there is nothing more for you to do,” . “We will take up the burden. We will comfort him. We will close his eyes. We will bury him and weep at his funeral and afterwards we will watch over his wife and daughters.”…Don Corleone

  33. Its so strange bc i wonder what happens at the moment of death Imagine yourself in that moment Do you just see a sudden flash and now its just peace or do you see your family come to get you and help you toward heaven?

  34. Off the camera. She's like another one bites the dust. And another one gone and another one gone. Another one bites the dust. Ight guys let's hit the pub.

  35. It makes me angry that he probably had a long drawn out, and excruciating death, you don’t even lets dogs go through that. End of life euthanasia needs to become legal

  36. I dont want to seem unsensitive but the man laying like that in the bed dying is the standard of white soceity! Its sad but the first wold has done this to themselves! The image of the man laying there is what happens to all people who live in a soceity where alcohol drinking and meat eating and sigarettes and stress is promoted!!!! Even healthy people can and will die i know this but its statistically very low! the man laying there is prob due to a life time of bad first wold habbits like alcohol drinking, smoking and stress and meat eating! People should wake the fuck up and stop drinking alcohol a life time! Alcohol is litteraly the number one killer! It kills you slowly over a life time and causes micro inflamation in all your organs and body and accelrates aging and opens pathways for oidative damage and dna damage! All cuase of life time alcohol! doesnt matter if its just one glass once in a while! Every glass of alcohol you drink is bringing you closer to an unnatural death! But people will fight me on this one cuz when it comes to alcohol people will litteraly walk over dead bodies and go through hell and back just to defend their drinking! Alcohol and meat eating is litteraly the holy bible of the people of today! I use to work as paramedic and i saw a lot of death and sick people and at the core the cause was always a life time of bad habbits like alcohol drinking even if it was with moderationg, sigarettes msoking, sun bathing (causes dna damage aswell not only skin cancer) and meat eating which also reduces life span since meat eating damages our bodies! Yet people love meat and alcohol so they will come up with the best lie, stories and fake studies to support their beloved holy alcohol and meat eating! Both are wrong!!!!!!!!!!!!! As a vegetarian (since i was 7 now 31) i can honestly say that taking and eating life comes at a cost! You cannot just take destroy and eat living sentient beings and expect to live a healthy long life! Eating meat is wrong in so many ways than just morally!

  37. I’m in my junior year of nursing school and videos like these hurt me so much. It makes me hope so hard that I’m strong enough to deal with this type of thing with patients and their families. But it’s reality and our job as medical caregivers to aim for top priority at all times. Keep your eyes on the goal and accept and deal what cannot change. It’s rough.

  38. Damn you for making me cry in the bank with no tissues at hand… I lost my partner of 20 years to renal failure 10 years ago, and was painfully aware of what was coming. The worst part is the end that could take days…What a lucky man this man was to have found such a lovely wife in his twilight years.

  39. life seems to be both a blessing and a curse. i don’t even mean that in a negative way…
    life can be so incredibly painful and confusing though. and none of us know why.

  40. I came here because my grandpa died last night, so please can I borrow your prayers for him😢. I really missed him already now I'm gonna watch boxing alone, he's just like my childhood bestfriend so please lend me your prayer for my grandpa, thank you so much. Love ya all❤️

  41. When our Mother was dying, her Doctor was very cold n insensitive, very matter of fact. He stood over us as we sat next to her explaining that she was dying n there was nothing that could be done. My brother immediately stood up n told him he needed to go out of the room to talk. He wanted him to look him in the eye. I didn't catch it, I was so upset. We ended up sitting in a conference room, all making eye contact as we spoke n asked questions, having a very good conversation. I watched that Doctor's shoulders relax, his eyes changed, he went from robot to human. Afterwards, my brother told me he wanted him to know our Mother n not just be a Doctor in the ICU but a son. He didn't want a frozen man to let our Mother go, but a compassionate man. I understand that Doctors have to protect themselves from feeling or it's hard to do their job, but I'm glad my brother did that.

  42. That look at 3:28 I dread so bad to see.. The doctor isn't looking at the camera and you can barely see her face but the look of "I'm sorry..but this is it.." It's so intense heartbreaking but so compassionate..

  43. I lost my wife to cancer thirty years ago
    When we went to see the oncologist at Stanford University back then he started asking her about what she was going to do during the holidays
    When he left the room she asked me why is he asking me about the holidays?
    He then asked me to speak to him outside
    He asked me if I had told her that she was terminal?
    I told him I was having a hard time telling her as she was only 31 at the time and we had two small kids
    I finally told her on the way home
    In my experience the dying part was easy it was the treatments that were hard to deal with
    She passed very peacefully and I was relieved that her suffering was over

  44. My grandmother has been told twice that she only had a little while to live. She’d respond that she was too busy to die right now. Somehow, she’s still alive 20 or so years after her first prognosis. Death can’t be stopped, but I guess there’s something to say for sheer willpower for procrastinating on its occurrence.

  45. At the end of the day we're getting away from hell when we die, and we all reunite to a wonderful place in paradise 🌥 ➕

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