A lesson on life’s end: How one college class is rethinking doctor training
A person’s breath is usually invisible. It’s quiet and automatic, unseen and unheard. It can be so silent that anxious parents hold mirrors next to their newborns’ faces, trying to catch a glimpse of it.
But in the days before death, the nature of breath changes.
Instead of passing through the body unnoticed, it calls for attention. It becomes noisy, hollowed, labored. Clinicians even have a name for it: the death rattle. It’s not something most people have heard, unless they’ve sat at a dying person’s side. Doctors in training, who go through years of coursework learning to keep people alive, might never experience it. And when they do, it can be overwhelming.