The language used to talk about death holds consequences and opportunities for understanding and making decisions about care practices. This book uses personal stories and perspectives from patients, family members, and medical workers to paint a picture of some of the issues and tensions individuals and caregivers face. With an aging population – one that represents a major public health challenge in the twenty-first century – Carey Candrian argues that examining the care we provide for individuals, especially aging individuals, is fundamental to creating a developed, ethical, and engaged society.
Chapter 7. The Concealing and Revealing Nature of Language
The last two chapters described how both the ED and hospice are experienced and understood by the providers who work there. They detailed the tension of providing humanistic care within and against institutional norms. And finally, the chapters developed three specific ways providers overcome this tension that when practiced together, ultimately tame a process that would otherwise be wild, chaotic, and uncertain. Through taming, however, providers are doing more than rehumanizing their care practices; they are actively producing meanings surrounding death that define how we can and should understand death within the ED and hospice. Therefore, the role of this chapter is twofold. First, I will describe how our understandings of death are formed through the accounts and stories of providers. Second, I will outline how in producing and defining meanings surrounding death, providers’ talk is simultaneously enabling them to smooth over the complexities of their work while at the same time, talking in a language that protects them from critical engagement.
There is an inherent tension at the ED and the hospice. On the one hand, their purposes demand that they be routine, standardized, and efficient. And on the other hand, their role is to heal and provide humanitarian care in a demanding and chaotic setting. Embedded in these contradictions, however, ← 103 | 104 → are a number of suppressed conflicts and opportunities. Therefore, rather than simply showing you how providers manage their challenges, I will describe what these practices are doing. In order to detail what providers’ talk...
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