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CARE OF THE DYING

Walter C. Alvarez, M.D.
JAMA. 1952;150(2):86-91. doi:10.1001/jama.1952.03680020020006.
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A physician is often at his best when bringing comfort to the slowly dying, to persons with diseases as yet incurable. The kindly, wise, and philosophic physician will try always to give comfort, not only by relieving physical pain but by lessening mental distress. He will also try to give comfort to the patient's loved ones, whose anguish is often much greater than that of the invalid. A man may be ready and willing to die, but his devoted wife may be almost unable to face her loss and the prospect of many lonely years ahead.

As all of us physicians know, it is not easy to walk into a home shadowed by sorrow and fear; and once there, it is not easy to find words that will be helpful and comforting rather than banal or even distressing. Often, as I have gone into a home filled with grief, I

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