It’s never the right time to let go


In the article “Letting Go” the author Atul Gawande, talks about medicine and the effects that it may or may not have on a patients condition, whether or not we need to cherish the quality of life over the quantity of years lived, and the costs that patients incur to obtain the possibility of living a few extra days, months or maybe even a year. At what point do we accept that the treatment provided is no longer working, instead of making it better it makes it worse by giving a patient and their family false hopes. Even with all the technology advancements certain illnesses and medications may work effectively on one patient as opposed to the way in which it works on another.

When a patient is diagnosed with a serious illness such as Cancer, or HIV the first couple of questions that come to mind are, How long do i have to live ? Is there a cure ? How effective is the treatment ? What are the costs ? Is there a possibility of relapse ? And in all honesty there is no correct answer for either one of these questions. A Doctor can never determine how long one has to live, nor can he guarantee that the medication or treatment provided assures your recovery.


Doctors address patients concerns ethically which may not always be the best way. Consistent offering of medication trials to ill patients with the hope that this particular medication will be more successful than the one previously given, this may seem like the right thing to do, but when you put yourself in the patients position its harder to accept and comprehend.

Death should not be something that is prolonged, especially if a person is in suffering, physically and emotionally. When it comes to death we can only be financially prepared. It’s never the right time to part with a loved one, and as much as we try to keep them here if it’s their time to go it’s their time to go. Acceptance is key …

The only guarantee in life is death !


8 thoughts on “It’s never the right time to let go

  1. I completely agree with your opinion that death is not something that should be prolonged. Watching someone that you truly love suffer and struggle everyday while they can no longer take care of themselves without assistance is not something any caregiver wants to go through. Death is natural and in certain cases I feel that medicine only interferes with the natural cycle of life. As you stated that acceptance is key and I agree that there comes a point in ones life when it’s just their time but American’s cant seem to buy into that which is why America is a death defying culture. It’s the fear of the unknown that scares people from allowing their loved ones to let go and pass on peacefully to be freed of suffering.

  2. I completely agree with your final points on how death should not be prolonged. As your last line states, “death is the only thing guaranteed in life.” For some it comes early, for some it comes late, but it comes at some point for us all. I feel too its better to just get it over with as peacefully as possible, rather than dragging it out, and just prolonging the inevitable. It puts you in a better mindset when you leave the earth as well as your family. It definitely will take off stress with them knowing that you have accepted your fate.

  3. I do agree with what you said at the end of your post about the finality and sureness of death. I feel that in the stress of the illness we understandably would forget that. I disagree though that doctors should not tell the patient what they want to hear. Of course they have to be honest and realistic, but if the patient keeps on hoping the doctor should first tell what is realistic but if there are any alternatives paths that could be traveled, go for it. This is only applicable if the patient shows this kind of attitude and will not listen to the doctor’s realistic advice.

  4. I completely agree that the suffering of death should not be prolonged. I also think that death should not include suffering at all. The fact that the medicine didn’t help her to get better is an unfortunate reality. And we really have to think individually what we want. There are so many different medicines and treatments now a days.

  5. As you mention, it’s important to ask “at what point accept that the treatment provided is no longer working, instead of making it better it makes it worse by giving a patient and their family false hopes.” In Sara’s case, this point wasn’t made when it truly should’ve been. I think you hit the nail on the head that death isn’t something that should be prolonged, especially in cases of suffering. As you said, the fact is that it’s never a good time to part with a loved one; attempting medication that only brings more suffering for the sake of a few extra weeks or days won’t make death easier for anyone, only more painful.

  6. I agree and disagree with your statement about how death should not be prolonged. You are right its an issue of quality of live over quantity. Each individual person in their unique situation has to decide whether they would want more years or a shorter period of time with less suffering. Its a debate about perspective. I can see both side of the coin. A mother who is terminally ill may choose to have quanity of life to see her children reach a certain milestone and give that child more memories with her around and deal with the pain/suffering to be able to have that time. Ultimately sacrificing her comfort for something that she views as greater. While someone else may make a entirely different decision. The debate is so highly personalized it cant possibly be as easy to say as medicine should just do pain management instead of continuing to try as many treatments as are available to see if something will work.

  7. I agree with every word you said in your comment. Death should definitely not be prolonged. It would just harm the patient physically, emotionally, and would cause lots of suffering. The fact that doctors are using patients as trails at times when it comes to new kinds of medications and giving them hope is I think wrong because like you mentioned, put yourself in the patients shoes, it would be hard for them to make such a difficult decision. I think this is wrong! Doctors should never put patients in that position especially when the doctor doesn’t know what the outcome will be after the medication is going under place. Overall though, I really liked your blog! You nailed a lot of important information.

  8. Wonderful point about doctor’s ethical concerns towards prolonging a terminal patient’s life. Many doctors are unwilling to admit defeat for fear of failing but they forget that the act of letting go isn’t a failure. It’s only acknowledging the patients eventual mortality. It’s important for doctors to realize that we need to step back and consider what kind of life these patients are living while we pump them full of experimental drugs and such. Is it worth it? Who really gains something here?

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