If the medical profession seeks to preserve the sanctity of human life, then we, its members, must cherish that life in all of its forms and care for it even in its declining, final stages. When we fail to do so, we undermine society's sense of social responsibility and diminish the worth of every human being. Dying persons, then, are eminently deserving of our attention and concern. If this concern is strengthened by a dim awareness of our own mortality, so much the better. Perhaps a compassionate response will thereby be enhanced. But in addition we have need for some understanding of the emotional aspects of the dying process to guide our treatment efforts. This article will review the meaning attached to dying, examine the psychological reaction to it, and offer principles for the care and management of dying persons.
Dying, the last stage of life, though it may