【April 2018】3- Lead by celebrities, let’s talk about death

HFT Secretariat

Promote palliative care in diversified channels

Recently, no matter whether it is the health ministry or hospitals or private sectors, everyone is promoting the concept of Advance Care Planning (ACP), which urges society to talk about one’s own desired end-of-life care and decisions as early as possible. This is not only a demonstration of self-autonomy, but can also serve as a checklist for one’s family to carry out the final plans. This can ensure one’s wish of being fulfilled at the last stage, and also bring peace to the family who is left behind.

Hospice Foundation of Taiwan has launched many events in diversified forms to promote palliative care, including speeches, literature, film, painting, photography and music concert, and etc. Based on the feedback received from the public, these events have gradually become a silent social revolution and break the taboo of talking about death.

Practice saying goodbye by writing it down

In 2013, Hospice Foundation of Taiwan hosted a composition contest, encouraging people to rehearse their final moments in life by writing it down, and also express their thoughts on end-of-life care. Influential celebrities from sectors such as medicine, politics, religion, arts and sports had been invited to participate, as well as the superintendents from six major hospitals. This contest received great response from the society and all the award winning articles were gathered and published to land on the best-selling books chart.

Publish for educational purpose to plant more seeds

Continuing with the public’s attention on this subject, Hospice Foundation of Taiwan raised funding to offer this book to thirteen high schools for educational purposes. It also invited celebrities to talk about living and dying with students at these schools in order to plant seeds in their minds.

 From the feedback received from these 13 schools, it clearly shown the positive influence brought by book donation. HFT carried on searching possible funds to continue book donation and encouraging teachers to use this book to guide students to think, discuss and write down what they have experienced. This is also an alternative and a more flexible way to root the ACP concept in these young minds. Below are some selected reviews from the students of Chung-Jen Junior College of Nursing, Health Sciences and Management.

2018   Personal Reflection

from students of Chung-Jen Junior College of Nursing, Health Sciences and Management

Let Go If You Do Love Me  


In my last days of junior college internship, my dear grandpa left us for good. The day before I visited him in the hospital, his eyes seemed dazed, but he still recognized me and gave me a subtle smile. I held his hands and told him gently, “Don’t give up; I will be right back after I finish my internship!” He nodded and tried very hard to hold my hand as if he was answering me, “Don’t you worry about me, focus on your internship.”

The second day after my internship, I phoned my family that I am heading home. My mother on the other side said, “Grandpa is leaving the hospital now too; come home quickly.” I was happy because I thought grandpa did it! He had promised me that he would fight and wait for me to return, and he must have done it. I rushed quickly home, excited, but as I drew closer, my mother revealed the truth to me, which was that grandpa had gone the day I last visited him.

This sudden news broke my heart and my sanity. It was very hard to accept. Mom fought back her tears and explained to me how it was really hard and unbearable to see grandpa on and off endo repeatedly, and so finally decided to let him go in peace.

 Seeing this article, mom’s reluctant look reemerged, and I am starting to realize just how great and difficult a decision it was for us to let grandpa go; it was out of her love to grandpa that she choose to let him go and end his suffering. It was not until now that I finally realized how significant that decision was.

I am leaving my dream land for you to grow your dream, my child


Being apart from beloved ones always caught me off guard. I am 20 years old and I have experienced three deaths, including that of my dear mom and uncle.

As I recall every goodbye we have said to each other, there are always many regrets. For example, I regret not being able to share my gratitude freely, not hugging them enough, and not letting them know how much I loved them. Now I can only look up to the sky and think of how much I miss them while imagining they are right there looking back at me.

I can still remember them in their last days how they were not worried about their frail bodies, but were still involved in planning for us because they worried about how we might live on after they were gone. We listened quietly as if we did not care too much for fear that these would become their last words.

However we may disagree with death, the course of life still runs its pace to the end. All that remains from them is their love to us. I have never stopped believing that they are up in the sky, smiling back at me to see us living out our dreams.

Letting go is the hardest treatment


Every time when we talked about death, the grown-ups would always stop and forbid us because they regarded it as ominous and kids’ silly talk. The subject of death has since become the elephant in the room to me.

Until I started my internship and saw many advanced patients with tubes all over their bodies, I could vaguely see bones in their bed sores. These patients’ daily torture can only end when their final day arrives. How then is the subject of death forbidden when it is the savior of these poor souls? I kept wondering sadly to myself, are these tubes really helping them? Or is it keeping them from dying? Are we forcing them to live and suffer? If one day, this situation happens to my family members, what should I choose? 

After reading Dr. Sheng-jean Huang’s “Letting go is the hardest treatment”, my heart was really touched. Saying goodbye is grievous and tough, but it is certainly a lesson that all of our medical professionals must learn. Just as Dr. Huang says, “Learn to face the limit of medicine bravely, and learn to respect the dignity of life humbly” and also “The lesson of dying well is the hardest and most basic lesson for every medical professional.”