What Should Medicine do when it can’t Save Your Life


This short story was honestly very eye opening for me. I must confess that I am one of those people who do not even consider death in my day to day thinking. More alarmingly, this article, I perceive, has caused me to realize that I may not even consider death or dying when I hear about someone being diagnosed with a severe or terminal illness.

I find myself relating to Sara and her family who would have rather fought tooth-and-nail for a miracle cure rather than submitting oneself to an end of life care program. I believe that it isn’t even necessarily an intentional action to refuse to face the end of life, I feel almost as if it is not even offered as an option.

When someone you know or love is suddenly diagnosed with a severe illness we immediately wonder what kind of treatment they will undergo to make them better, instead of at times facing the reality of the brevity of their remaining life for what it is, or should be


When medicine cannot save your life its focus absolutely has to shift from cure to care. Before this class, and accounts similar to the ones in this short story, I was extremely naive about Hospice and end of life care. Because of this class I know realize that Hospice is in and of itself as much of a miracle as the rest of modern medicinal technology.

Instead of devaluing the remaining life that people have by giving them unproductive treatments that can only provide a false and empty hope, medicine should take the appropriate measures to not only care for the patient who is nearing the end of life, but it should also manage the psychological aspect of those that are left behind.

Perhaps by forcing people to discuss the tough issues that we ignorantly believe are better left unsaid we can make letting go of a loved one a process to be enjoyed, not mourned. This maybe the only way to treat a person’s final moments as a celebration instead of a funeral before death.

Pirates of the Caribbean

When I think about death denial one of the things that come very clearly into my mind are Disney’s Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Today in our movies it is quite clear that death and dying are both things that can be manipulated to keep the viewer on the edge of suspense. This is clearly represented in each of the Pirates movies.

For instance in the first movie, “The Curse of the Black Pearl” the concept of death being irreversible and the concept of death as something that causes your functioning to cease are both misrepresented by a group of pirates that have stolen cursed Aztec gold. These pirates are punished by being neither living nor dead, and can’t die until their curse is lifted. 

In the second movie “Dead Man’s Chest” we are introduced to Davy Jones whose ominous reoccurring line in these movies is “Do you fear death?” Davy Jones has the ability to prolong a person’s life by giving them a chance to work on his crew in exchange for their souls. He also defies biological reasons for death by cutting out his own heart and placing it inside of a chest.

In the third movie “At World’s End” I believe the most obvious betrayal of an honest depiction of death is shown. The concept of the permanence of death is absolutely trampled upon when not only is Captain Barbosa brought back from the dead, but also Captain Jack Sparrow is brought back from the very odd after life-like holding tank “Davy Jones locker”. This concept of death permanence is further hindered near the end of the movie when Will Turner is killed and brought back to life by stabbing the heart of Davy Jones and prolonging his life.

The entire fourth movie “On Stranger Tides” is about the race to find the mystical fountain of youth in effort to prolong the lives of all parties involved. This clearly shows the defiance of the universality of dying. Also in this move the character Blackbeard is wrestling with his own personal mortality, and is juxtaposed between his fear and defiance of the prophecy that he would be killed by a one legged man

All in all I greatly enjoyed the Pirates movies for what they are, mystical adventure that is fun and funny. However, since I have taken this class I can now see that they can potentially do a great deal of harm to our understanding of death and dying.