Today I came across this post on twitter and I was impressed to say the least. The post links to an article from The Drinks Business, written by Lauren Eads.
A French hospital is taking steps to offer those in end of life situations a more palatable choice to typical hospital beverages. The hospital, located in central France will begin offering wine tastings and permitting patients to share alcoholic beverages with friends and family. This service is aimed at those patients that have been admitted to the palliative care center of the facility and thus to patients who have been deemed to be in terminal situations.
I wholeheartedly applaud this move, and moreover hope that this model gains acceptance. The chance to offer the dying, their friends, and family a beverage of choice in a hospital or hospice setting is long overdue. To any that may object I offer this simple retort – what can it hurt? A few glasses of wine, beer or spirits will not dull the senses or change the circumstances of the imbibers so why not treat them as rational adults as opposed to infirm people that are simply waiting for their conditions to worsen?
In our society we tend to treat the dying as a sad series of symptoms. Yet those that have spend time working in end of life situations reveal that many are not as sad as we would expect. Typically sadness is a part of the experience, but often the dying tend to move on to other psychological states, many relishing the time that they have left and the sanctity of life. Why should we not offer them one of our pleasures, that of the senses, in their time of reflection?
My father in law died a few years ago of cancer, and he was lucky enough to be at home as his disease progressed. He enjoyed having a beer or two on occasion. He never drank to excess, indeed he never really even appeared to have any significant level of intoxication. He was, though, quite happy to simply savour a beer when the occasion struck him and we were glad to offer him this minor happiness. Had he been hospitalized or placed in hospice care, this opportunity would simply not have been legally available to him.
Wine, beer or spirits, what really matters is that we treat the dying as people. People deserve to be comfortable and if a taste of the finer things in this life help, so be it.
That others may be able to add a greater measure of happiness to their lives in their end of days is progress, and I welcome it.