Health

Let’s Talk About Dying

In the 1990s I was, for a few years, palliative care chaplain at a city hospice. One Sunday, while I was preparing for the Eucharist in the chapel, an elderly woman arrived, beautifully coiffed, dressed in twinset, pearls and a pleated woollen skirt. As she looked a picture of health, I wondered what she was doing at a hospice, so I probed, hopefully in a diplomatic way; was she visiting someone, I asked: a friend, a relative? “No,” she said, smiling. “I’ve just arrived from [country town]. I’m boarding here. Tomorrow I start six weeks of radiotherapy, for cervical cancer,…

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