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Becoming a Whiskeypalian: A place where people know my name

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In my younger days, as a Southern Baptist, I was somewhat jealous of my Episcopalian friends. We called them “whiskeypalians.” They got to dance and drink, and we did not. Or, more accurately, they got to dance and drink without GUILT. We felt guilty about doing almost anything fun.

St. Peter’s Episcopal Church, Oxford, Miss.

Had I fallen? Or, to borrow Father Richard Rohr’s words, had I “fallen upward”?

Or had my faith journey followed the words of the Apostle Paul, “When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways”? (1 Corinthians 13:11)

My failed attempt to leave the church behind

I have always been a church-type guy ever since my parents put me on the “cradle roll” at the Palma Ceia Baptist Church in Tampa, 1948. Even during my college days, when I rarely went to church on Sunday, I substituted attendance with feeling guilty about sleeping in.

I tried to get my name off the membership roll of the church I had joined during college. My faith journey had led me to a summer ministry in the inner city of Newark, New Jersey, in 1968, a year after the riots. I was so appalled by the lack of a church presence in the face of such urban poverty, I wrote to my church and asked to have my name removed.

They replied that there were two ways to get my name off the roll. One was to transfer my membership to another church. The other was to die. Neither option was appealing.

They got the last laugh. By the time I was about to graduate, I had decided to go into the ministry. I needed the church’s endorsement to get into The Southern Baptist Theological Seminary.

I groveled. They endorsed.

The long and winding road, Southern Baptist to Episcopalian

Hank, Southern Baptist youth minister, 1976

After ordination, I served a Southern Baptist church in Macon, Georgia, and for a number of years was a member at the ecumenical Church of the Saviour (CofS) in D.C. Having left the professional ministry at that time, I asked myself, “Do I have a spiritual life…even when my job does not require it?”

The answer was “yes.”

For the next 32 years, while I was a healthcare chaplain, I was deeply involved in a more liberal American Baptist church. In a story too long to recount here, my wife and I found ourselves living in Oxford, Mississippi, with no church to call home.

I had moved so far – physically and spiritually – from my Southern Baptist roots. Now that we were back in the deep South, where to turn? Freed of any expectations, I asked myself, “What do I want in a church?”

Discovering what I wanted in a church

I walked into St. Peter’s Episcopal Church. The building had been erected in the 1850s with slave labor. [See my video about this experience.] Here is what I found out about myself in the process of becoming an Episcopalian:

  • I am nourished by the excellent biblical preaching I encounter every Sunday. Who knew?
  • I have lived most of my adult life by scripture, tradition, and reason, the “three-legged stool” that retired bishop Duncan Gray taught us about during confirmation class. It was nice to have a metaphor to explain it.
  • I am touched by Christian mysticism; or the experience of God’s presence. [I did a short video about my reverence for the silence I found in Trappist monasteries.] After further conversation with bishop Gray, I added a fourth legexperience.
  • I found the Christian words and symbols were a familiar home. I could now be instructed by those same metaphors while leaving behind the orthodox baggage that was no longer helpful.
  • Perhaps my greatest discovery was learning how much I value engagement with small groups of people. A place where people know my name, a community on mission together. For example, on Wednesday afternoons, I go with three men from St. Peter’s to sit in silent meditation with a dozen incarcerated men at the county jail across the street from the church. Jailed and free, White and Black, church-types and seekers. We sit.

I can now dance and drink without guilt.

Come On, Y’all — Read the Blog First, THEN Comment!

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I was trying to be playful. An ironic blog post title took on a life of its own.

Like many people, I have a love/hate relationship with Facebook. I love seeing pictures of my grandkids. I have enjoyed connecting with high school friends more than fifty years post-graduation. I love the possibility of reaching new “friends” with my messages about end-of-life care and spiritual musings.

But my post two weeks ago, announcing my 100th blog entry, reminded me of some of what I hate about Facebook.

I maintain two Facebook pages. There is plain old “Hank Dunn” for more personal interactions, and then there is the more professional Hard Choices for Loving People (HCLP) page. Obviously, I want to sell more books and increase my reach digitally.

So, it should come as no surprise that, for a fee, Facebook will push my posts into people’s news feeds whether they want it or not. This “boost,” as they call it, works…until it doesn’t.

Happy birthday to me?

My playful title about my 100th blog post read: “My Life At 100.” Eleven words into my blog, I made it clear this was a post about my 100th blog entry, and not my 100th birthday.

My true friends on my personal page got the joke. One long-time friend wrote, “Hank, you don’t look a day over 85. Oh, wait…” Others also showed they had indeed read the blog.

Not so on the HCLP page, where we boosted the post to thousands of strangers. On this page, there were birthday wishes, fireworks, and birthday cakes. Hundreds “Liked” it; dozens even “Loved” it. I can imagine their thinking, “This guy turned 100; surely he deserves recognition.”

It is one of the things I HATE about Facebook: People commenting on a post they never read. Though I am sure these folks were well-meaning, it illustrated how fast misinformation can multiply. Fortunately, wishing me a “happy birthday” when there was no birthday does little harm.

Falsehoods are faster than truth

In my post, I mentioned our short attention spans. This fake birthday news only brings this home even more. It was clear people did not take the time to read the post, they just went with the title.

In 2018, a report in the journal, Science, put numbers to the spread of misinformation. “Falsehoods are 70 percent more likely to be retweeted on Twitter than the truth, researchers found. And false news reached 1,500 people about six times faster than the truth.” They found the phenomenon was even worse for political falsehoods.

I think regardless of what next week’s post is about, I will title it, “100-Year-Old Guy Goes Broke” so hundreds of well-meaning strangers might start a Go Fund Me — or, at least, buy my book.

Was This My Life or Just My Memory of It?

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Which event seems hardest to believe?

  1. Viewing, in person, liftoff of the Apollo 11-Saturn V rocket headed to the first moon landing.
  2. Viewing, in a theater, the movie 2001 A Space Odyssey.
  3. Viewing, on television, Neil Armstrong walking on the moon.

Watching billionaires launching themselves to the edge of space recently, I couldn’t help but think back to a stretch of five unbelievable days in my youth.

It was summer, 1969. I was going to summer school at the University of Florida, in a last-ditch effort to get my grades up and avoid being drafted with the next stop Vietnam.

I have been a “space race” fan since my earliest remembrances. More than a decade before the moon landing, in 1957, I recall being disappointed in both the failure of the US’s Vanguard rocket and the success of the Soviet’s launching Sputnik.

From our home in Tampa, we could see night launches across the state at “the Cape.” I actually had a goal of becoming an aerospace engineer as I headed off to college. I crashed and burned in my second semester of calculus and conveniently, the Lord called me into the ministry at exactly the same time.

Here’s how I remember the three events.

  • I hitchhiked the 150 miles from Gainesville to Titusville, Florida on Tuesday, July 15. Slept on a concrete picnic table. On Wednesday morning I stood with a million others and watched the launch of the 364-foot Saturn V rocket with three astronauts in the capsule on top.
  • On Saturday, July 19, I went with friends and viewed 2001 A Space Odyssey — pure science fiction, but, perhaps, one of the greatest “space” movies of all time.
  • On Sunday, July 20, I gathered in front of a black-and-white television set with friends and watched Neil Armstrong take “the first step.”

(As I have retold this story for the past 52 years, I always said that the hardest event to believe was actually standing on that causeway in Titusville on Wednesday morning.)

We were ten miles from the launch pad. On the night before the launch, you could clearly see the rocket aglow from flood lights, even from that distatnce. At liftoff, the rocket seemed to move so slowly it looked as if it slipped sideways before picking up speed to clear the tower. I could hear the roar and feel the concussion of the atmosphere on my chest. In moments, it was gone.

To me, the in person rocket launch was the hardest to believe.

Why is “reality” so hard to believe?

Why? I had been raised to see so much fantasy on TV and at the movies that walking on the moon as televised on the small screen and imagining a voyage to Jupiter on a big one seemed quite plausible. But 3,250 tons of metal, fuel, and human flesh being launched into space before my eyes? Not possible. I get the “moon-landing-deniers.” It seems far-fetched.

Am I remembering all this correctly? …What is memory anyway?

Nobel-Prize-winning author Gabriel García Márquez once wrote, “Life is not what one lived, but how one remembers it.”

Can I Trust the Russians? — Absolutely

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Would you trust someone who contacts you by email, claims to be from Russia, and wants to publish your book in their country? This happened to my publisher and me almost two years ago. Can we trust them?

Trust, but verify

I am reminded of a Russian proverb that Ronald Reagan was fond of quoting as he negotiated arms treaties with what was then the Soviet Union, “Trust, but verify.”

Twice before this, I was contacted by foreign publishers out of the blue requesting the same thing. As a result, Hard Choices for Loving People is now available in Japan and Taiwan.

You know — I am so thankful these people contacted us. They could have stolen my copyrighted material and published it without us ever knowing it had happened. I am sure there are international agreements that supposedly protect authors like myself. But if they were to publish without contacting us, it would be highly unlikely we would find out — and very expensive to try to stop them if we did.

We live in a state of trust

Come to think about it, we all live much of our lives in a state of trust. I occasionally find myself on a rural Mississippi two-lane, and suddenly, it dawns on me I trust those people in the other lane will stay in their lane. Or trust that people are going to stop at a stoplight as I go through the green. Or that the bank is going to keep my money. Or that the building I am in is not going to collapse.

The Russian Hospice Charity Fund that requested to translate my book seems like people I want to trust. From their website:

Someone who can’t be cured can still be helped.

The mission of Hospice Charity Fund is to make sure that every terminally ill patient in Russia has access to quality hospice care and pain relief – regardless of their age, financial and social status or place of registration.

Regardless of the differences we may have with other countries, on an individual basis, human compassion is universal.

So is trust.

 

Hard Choices for Loving People: “Actually, Just One Hard Choice”

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This is the seventh and last post in a series of articles about the writing and distribution of Hard Choices for Loving People.

Article featuring the 1st edition and its subtitle, “CPR, Artificial Feeding Tubes, and The Nursing Home Resident”

What is in a name? …or title? …or subtitle?

Over 30 years, Hard Choices for Loving People has been the title of the book. But the subtitle has morphed, most notably in the audience to whom the book is addressed. It began with “the nursing home resident,” then changed to “the elderly patient.” Next was “the patient with a terminal illness,” then, “the patient with a life-threatening illness,” and finally “the patient with a serious illness.”

I wanted to welcome as many people as possible into reading my book. My constant worry was that I would turn people off or scare them away or that they would think “this book is not for me.” When I had “terminal illness” in the subtitle, readers might resist facing this fact until a few days, or even hours, before death. They need to read the book long before that time. So I replaced “terminal” with “life-threatening.”

I have now settled on “serious illness” for several reasons. First, it is the language you find in medical journals. Second, there is a standard definition for what a serious illness is; essentially, an illness with a high probability that it will end in death and which causes burdens on the patient and their caregivers. Third, people know if they have a hard time getting out of a chair or are in constant pain something is “serious.”

I didn’t want to scare people off

Where did the book title come from? To tell the truth, I can’t remember exactly how I came up with the name Hard Choices for Loving People. As I said, I did not want to scare people off, so I avoided words like “preparing for death,” or “let go.” If people are struggling with accepting a terminal diagnosis, they certainly did not want to read a book to help prepare them for death.

The double entendre was intentional. These were hard choices as people are figuring out the loving thing to do. AND loving people have to make these hard choices.

I’ll close this series of articles with an excerpt from the book where I address these choices, or, rather, a single choice:

“The truth is that we will die whether we give up, let go, or let be. We are making a choice about the nature of our dying or the dying of one we love. We can choose to die in trust and grace or in fear and struggle.

“Perhaps I titled my book improperly. We are not faced with many hard choices. We are faced with one hard choice: Can we let go and live life out of grace or must we hold on out of fear? Can we just let things be? That is really what we are talking about. To withhold or withdraw artificial and mechanical devices is just returning the patient to a natural state. We are accepting what is. We have come to accept that the patient is dying and we will just let be.” (Hard Choices for Loving People, p. 73)

COVID-19, a Face Mask, and My Thomas Merton Moment

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I surprised even myself with this “Thomas Merton moment.” Where did THAT come from?

Early April 2020. Coronavirus, coronavirus… all day, every day. The first time I wore a face mask on my daily trip to the post office. It seemed like the right thing to do. To help prevent ME from unknowingly spreading the contagion, I can wear a mask. So, I did.

All of a sudden — as I stepped out of the car — I had a great sense of connection to everyone I encountered. It bordered on compassion. Definitely caring.

I thought, “Old lady slowly moving toward the door, I’m doing this for you.” “Office worker pulling mail out of your P.O. box while I wait to get to mine, I’m doing this for you.” “Postal worker now behind plastic, I’m doing this for you.” “And you two who are six feet from me in front and behind in line, I’m doing this for you.”

No words were spoken. And the ones I saw with masks, I secretly thanked them. “Thank you for caring about me.”

My first mask-wearing venture into the United States Post Office in Oxford, Mississippi, immediately brought to mind an experience of the Christian mystic Thomas Merton on the street in downtown Louisville, Kentucky. The monk found himself away from the monastery and in the midst of crowded sidewalk.

“In Louisville, at the corner of Fourth and Walnut, in the center of the shopping district, I was suddenly overwhelmed with the realization that I loved all these people, that they were mine and I theirs, that we could not be alien to one another even though we were total strangers. It was like waking from a dream of separateness, of spurious self-isolation in a special world.… This sense of liberation from an illusory difference was such a relief and such a joy to me that I almost laughed out loud.… I have the immense joy of being man, a member of a race in which God Himself became incarnate.” (Conjectures of a Guilty Bystander, 1966).

Some people believe wearing a mask shows weakness. I believe it is a way to show others I care. Even Jesus told us, “If you do this to the least of these, you do it to me.”

I don’t think I was as generous as Merton who said he “loved all these people.” But I did genuinely have a sense of connection and caring for each one. In these uncertain times, more caring and connection can’t be a bad thing. Can it?

She, More Than Any Other

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I just co-led a silent retreat where we pondered the writings of Elizabeth O’Connor. Never heard of her? Not to worry. Here’s a piece I wrote about her in 1998.

October 31, 1998, Monterey, CA

Last year, after Viktor Frankl died, I thought about the most influential books on my life. I gave Frankl’s Man’s Search for Meaning the Number Two spot on the list. Partly perhaps because I only read it in 1993 and it hasn’t had as much time to “influence” me significantly. But more to the point of the list, I chose a book that has “caused” more change in my life than any other volume. The Number One most influential book on my life is Search for Silence by Elizabeth O’Connor.

Elizabeth O’Connor, 1971, from jacket of Eighth Day of Creation

Elizabeth died last week at age 77. She had been struggling with cancer the last few years and I lost personal contact with her. About a month ago I was talking with one of her close friends and asked if Elizabeth was writing about her experience with a life-threatening illness. She said, “No. She doesn’t do much of anything. I wish she would.” Apparently she was a very sick woman. Too ill to even write.

She had been sick before. I remember she and her friends telling me the story of the writing of one of her first books either, Call to Commitment or Journey Inward, Journey Outward. They said she was crippled with arthritis and could not even walk. Yet, she, and they were determined to finish the book. Her friends would come over in the morning, lift her out of bed and sit her down in front of the typewriter. She would write. By the way, I recall her talking once about her discipline of writing and she said she would commit herself to being in front of the typewriter several hours each day whether she wrote a single word or not.

Even in healthy times Elizabeth seemed frail. She was thin, perhaps 5’2” in height. She spoke with an almost “mousey” voice. Yet . . . when she spoke . . . . I used to say she had the E.F. Hutton syndrome after the TV commercial. “When Elizabeth speaks, people listen.”

I was attending a youth worker’s convention in Atlanta in the Fall of 1975. While there I attended a workshop on “Contemplative Prayer.” I knew little about the subject but it was being taught by a fellow Southern Baptist, Bill Clemmons. He often quoted from a book entitled Search for Silence by an Elizabeth O’Connor. I was so intrigued that when I returned to Macon, Georgia I immediately went to the local bookstore to order a copy. It came. I read and was transformed. How so?

The impact of one book on my life

First, the book introduced me to the idea of contemplative prayer or Christian meditation. I knew I wanted this to be part of my life and made a personal commitment (even wrote it in my journal) to live the life of a contemplative. To be in touch with the deep center within my life . . . to know God in my heart of hearts. Though I have wavered in my practice of the disciplines, I have never wavered in my sense that my life must be lived this way. My introduction to “centering prayer” last year has built on the foundation Elizabeth laid down for me 23 years ago.

Secondly, this book started me journaling. The structure of Search for Silence was built around six exercises. The reader was encouraged to write in a journal responding to Elizabeth’s questions. I did and was profoundly moved by the experience of pouring my life onto the pages of a simple composition book. Again, though my discipline has wavered at times, journaling continues to be one of my most cherished of the spiritual disciplines. Elizabeth said, “You will never learn from your life unless you reflect on it.” I do this reflecting in my journal more that any other place.

Lastly, this book introduced me to Church of the Saviour. I had heard little bits about CofS during my seminary days but not enough to pique my interest. In about the middle of the book, Elizabeth takes a break from the exercises and writes on the topic of “Prayer and a Coffee House.” It is the story of the Potter’s House and how church members spent time in prayer to seek the moving of the spirit as they were going to open the doors of the coffee house and doors of their hearts to any stranger who would like to enter. I was fascinated by a church that took call so seriously and sought to be a presence of God in Washington, DC.

I rushed back to the book store and ordered anything and everything Elizabeth had written. I was further drawn by the vision and call of Gordon and Mary Cosby and other founders of CofS. I knew I must go and see for myself. In April, 1976, with my wife pregnant, we flew to DC and spent four days in an orientation to the church at Wellspring, in the Maryland suburbs. We were introduced to silence in community; to inner city ministries; to the Potter’s House; to Gordon and Elizabeth. The next Monday morning I met with the pastor of the church where I was youth minister and told him, “I don’t know what I am going to do with this, but I know I can never do church the same after what I experienced in four days in DC.”

The call to Washington, DC

What we did in August 1978 was pack all our earthly belongings in a Ryder truck and head north. We had no jobs nor prospects of one and we had two children age two and four. The sense of call was so great we had no fear. It all started with Search for Silence.

At CofS we joined the faith community where Elizabeth was a member. I also joined a therapy group she led. For four years or so I met weekly with other group members who were there to work on the rough edges of our lives. There were many E.F.Hutton moments. Someone asked her once how one gets out of a therapy group . . . how do you know when your are done? She said, “When you neither look up to nor down to anyone in the group and you can adequately express your feelings.” I am still working on those.

Her impact on Hard Choices for Loving People

I have a funny story that involves Elizabeth and her pushing me to speak up and be more clear. When I finished the first draft of my book Hard Choices for Loving People in 1989 I sent a copy to her and also one to a physician I knew from the church. In the book I wanted to present both sides of end-of-life medical treatment decisions so the reader could make up his/her mind. But I had my own idea about how they should decide. When the physician sent me his opinion he said, “Hank, it is so obvious how you want people to decide. You really should not be so manipulative.” And Elizabeth, always pushing me, said, “Hank, I can’t quite tell where YOU stand on these issues. You need to be more clear.” Because I got those two opposing views I added a final chapter where I was very up front and clearly stated where I was on these decisions. I was able to pull out my attempts at manipulation from the main body of text and make it a kinder, gentler piece. I think that move has contributed to books popularity.

What if I had never read Search for Silence?

Inscription on my copy of the 1987 Cry Pain, Cry Hope

The move to Washington was a watershed experience for me. I learned I could pull up stakes at what I sensed as the call of God and be richly blessed. I was introduced to the ideas of peace and justice in my first mission group, World Peacemakers. I got my first job in health care through a contact made at CofS. I got a very healthy view of therapy and benefited greatly from the process. I got my first spiritual director and learned to be a spiritual director.

What if I had not attended that workshop in Atlanta or bought Search for Silence? Would we have died on the vine in Macon? Would I have accepted the limited vision of most churches today had I not seen with my own eyes what church could REALLY be like? Would I ever have picked up a journal? Would I have ever gone to Haiti as I did with a CofS group three years ago?

All moot points.

I did attend the workshop, was introduced to Elizabeth O’Connor and the rest is history. Nothing can take away the richness she so willingly gave to me. She more than any other writer has had a profound effect on my life. I can’t imagine any other book ever taking over the number one place of Search for Silence. Thanks Elizabeth.

Preparing for Death as a Game . . . really

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As I have wandered around the internet looking at things death and dying, I ran across a very intriguing project. The company, “Common Practice,” has developed a game called “Hello” to help people have discussions about death and dying.

The concept of the game is quite simple. Gather people together to talk about what is most important in life as you think about dying. Their website offers videos and testimonials that give you an idea of how it works.

This looks like it has real possibilities for staring conversations in families and among friends. In my view, the family discussion about end-of-life care is the most important part of preparing for healthcare decisions in the face of a life-threatening illness. The family conversation ranks right up there with assigning a healthcare proxy.

This game could be part of the process.

Thanks guys!

Hank

Forcing My Will on Patients

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Doesn’t a healthcare professional know what is best for a patient making medical decisions? Seems like a simple question and answer. They are the professional with much more experience and knowledge, of course they know what the best decision should be.

Maybe not.

David Hilfiker warned me against forcing my will on patients. I wrote about Dr. Hilfiker and his Alzheimer’s diagnosis in my last blog. It was he who helped me make a huge improvement in my book Hard Choices for Loving People. In the first edition of my book (1990) I discuss CPR and feeding tubes and offer help to those making decisions about these treatments.

Sometime in 1988 or ’89 I sent an early draft of Hard Choices to a dozen or so professionals for comment. Two people made the exact opposite observation about my writing.

“Hank, you are much too forceful”

Dr. Hilfiker wrote something like, “Hank, you are much too forceful in telling people what they should do with these medical decisions. You have disguised it as a discussion but it is obvious the conclusion you want people to make.”

I had spent several years in a therapy group led by Elizabeth O’Connor. Besides her life as a therapist she was a very successful author. One of my “issues” then was not being clear about what I want and what I am feeling in my heart-of-hearts. Respecting her written work and her sensitivity as a therapist, I sent her a draft of Hard Choices. Her comment was, “Hank, I can’t tell where you stand on these issues. What do YOU recommend?”

Truth is…they were both right.

For example, I felt so strongly that CPR offered no benefit to frail, dying, very old, nursing home residents that I wanted to guide my readers to choose a “No CPR” order. But I tried to get them to see my viewpoint through manipulation and condescension. After all, I had spent years working with these types of patients and was well-versed in the medical literature surrounding the topic.

David could see this very clearly with his years of clinical practice where he also had to advise patients and families on making end-of-life decisions. I had pretended like I was leaving it up to the decision-makers but I had worded it is such a way so they would only do “what I wanted.”

Elizabeth was confused because I did not clearly state what I believed. Not being a medical person, she could not see my hidden agenda.

I am forever grateful for their opposite assessments of my draft. What I did was state very clearly my opinions about specific medical treatments. But I put them in a section in the back of the book, plainly marked as my opinions. AND I softened the language earlier in the book where I have truly attempted to give the facts and let the readers draw their own conclusions.

The book … let’s them make up their own mind

Just yesterday, someone called the office looking to buy more copies of Hard Choices. Her hospice has purchased thousands over the years and they needed more. She said, “The thing I love about the book is the author gives people the information and let’s them make up their own mind.” I can’t tell you the number of times people have complimented my book saying how open, balanced, and nonjudgmental it is. It wasn’t that way originally.

This is a challenge for the healthcare professional. How do you present the facts of a case to a patient or family without forcing your will on them to make the decision you think is the correct one?

A family may feel guilty

Sometimes, physicians may not say enough to help these decision-makers. I am afraid some doctors bend over backwards respecting patient autonomy and trying not being too forceful in discussions that they are not truly helpful. They may say, “You can attempt to save her life and try CPR on your 95-year-old mother with cancer or not. It is up to you.”

So a family may feel guilty for not attempting a life-saving treatment. In this case, the physician can tell them clearly that CPR rarely works and often patients and families refuse it. Lay people need the best medical information as they face end-of-life decisions. Not being forced to make a decision but gently told the facts, options, and the pros and cons of different choices.

There is a balance somewhere in the middle of offering no advice and being willful. People say I hit it.

Thanks David and Elizabeth. You helped save me from myself.

Hank

22 Years, 3 Million Books

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A couple of weeks ago I passed the three million mark for books sold. Mostly it was the Hard Choices book but also 80,000 or so Light in the Shadows. Who could have predicted?

In 1990 I had been a nursing home chaplain for seven years when the Fairfax Nursing Center published the first edition. We printed 1,000 books. I told my administrator I thought we could sell enough to pay for the printing. We sent copies of Hard Choices to 100 other nursing homes in Virginia and sold 4,000 books. It was a simple 36-page booklet to help patients and families with end-of-life decisions.

Lucky timing on my part

In 1991 a federal law, The Patient Self-Determination Act, kicked in, which required all hospitals, nursing homes and hospice programs to inform patients or their families of the right to an advance directive and a right to refuse treatment. Hard Choices did just that. Lucky timing on my part. We sold over 50,000 copies in 1991 as facilities were scrambling to comply with the law.

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