Letter to the Editor: Arrangement for the Terminally-ill Patients (4D Markus Law)


Dear Editor,

    I am writing to share my thoughts on Lo Hoi Ying’s article entitled ‘In the end, it’s all about peace and comfort’.  In the article, Lo proves the benefits of terminally ill patients spending their last days at home from experts and real-life cases. I certainly agree that terminally ill patients should be given the option to do so. Despite some setbacks, I still think that ‘home death’ should be an option to be encouraged.

    First and foremost, from a cultural standpoint, ‘home death helps Hong Kongers to accept the taboo of death. Death has always been prohibited from being mentioned in our traditional values. People are taught that death is the worst thing to happen to someone, enforcing fear upon generations. The fact that terminally ill patients are to die in cold hospital beds, often alone, does not help either. By giving the option of ‘home death’, people are to bring the largely taboo subject to their homes, with the protagonist being their close one. People will understand that they are never alone, even when they die, as they give peace to their loved ones in their homes. Death is inevitable, and it is just as normal as being at home. Even if the taboo of death still exists with the option given, it at least softens the widespread fear. In short, ‘home death’ allows society to accept death. 

    Moreover, from the perspective of the needs of patients and their families, ‘home death’ eases the anxiety of terminally ill patients and the grief of families. Instead of withering away in an unfamiliar and heartless environment surrounded by strangers, patients may feel more content to be in a familiar environment that they confidently call home. Being in pain, comfort is the most important thing for patients to spend their last days. ‘Home death’ not only allows them to be surrounded by their loved ones, but it also allows them to be in the place where patients recall spending the most time in. As such, the drastic environment shift wouldn’t exist to disturb the patients’ comfort. Further, their family members are ensured that their loved one passed away comfortably and peacefully. Their final goodbyes will eventually hurt less. Therefore, ‘home death’ meets the needs of patients and their families.

    At last, from the perspective of its practicality, ‘home death’ is generally feasible. It does have its limitations as not all homes are feasible and it may even cost more than in hospitals. However, such limitations can be countered by hiring experts to examine a home’s feasibility, though this contributes to the higher cost of ‘home death’.  I believe that families of terminally ill patients are willing to pay for the higher costs if they can afford it, though, in exchange for their close one’s comfort till their last breath. Hence, ‘home death’ is still practical.

    To conclude, ‘home death’ benefits all stakeholders. Although the practicality of it may be deemed questionable, it is still highly practical, and some companies even show dedication to home death. Hence, the option of home death should be encouraged.

                                                                                                                           Yours faithfully,

                                                                                                                                       Markus Law