A reply to Sassie: on hope

Posted March 6th, 2009 by Jane

I’m not sure I agree that family members should know a prognosis (inexact as it always is) when patients do not…though agree some patients ‘don’t want to know’. Maybe the young woman you mention ‘needed permission’ to die???

When I write about reframing hope I mean that ‘hope’ isn’t just about hoping to live for x amount of time, but hoping for other kinds of landmarks and possibilities. So ‘hope’ may be about hoping to reach a milestone ( a year ago I hoped to get to my 60th and now its 10 days off I most likely will. I hope its sunny!). I hope that my final illness is brief. I hope I might get to Amsterdam and Florence before I die (realistic at the moment) but I won’t get back to San Francisco which I’d like to do (but actually an unrealistic hope for all kinds of reasons) I don’t hope to live till I’m 65 because that it so unlikely..I don’t even hope to live till I’m 61…though know I might and want to if I’m well enough! (and I might get to 65 though I don’t think a medical professional in the world would ‘give’ me that right now.) This is all more complex than the simple quality re quantity discussions.

I’ve been influenced by the ideas of Jerome Groopman in a book called The Anatomy of Hope. Interestingly he was a friend of Susan Sontag, who according to her son David Reiff in Swimming in a Sea of Death resolutely refused to believe she was dying making it very hard for him to say goodbye…a different approach to Groopman.