As estate practitioners, we usually meet our clients shortly after the death of a loved one. We hear stories about the deaths that precipitate so many of our files, but we rarely, if ever, are confronted with clients who are dying. 

The National’s series “Public Health, Privates Lives” focuses on how the work of doctors and nurses impacts upon their private lives. One fascinating and inspiring episode looks at the life of Dr. Jeff Myers, the head of Palliative Care at Sunnybrook Hospital. 

Dr. Myers’ job involves acting as an advocate for dying patients. He points out that our natural inclination as a society is to heal and fix problems, and that this is in direct contrast to the reality that we all die. He states that his role is not to augment the disease process, but to make the patient as comfortable as possible in their final days. In the clip, he visits with two patients and asks them what is important to them in the last few days or months of their lives. They both answer that they want to be free of pain. He asks one patient to “celebrate the small victories” rather than focus on what cannot be attained. 

The best moment is when Dr. Myers asks us to consider what we would be doing differently– if we had 3 months or if we had 9 months left to live.

It is a short clip and worth watching if only to remind ourselves that we all die and that we should always be asking ourselves if we are spending our time on the things that are most important to us.