Cicely Saunders: Dying with Dignity

Cicely Saunders Launched the Mother Ship of the Modern Hospice Movement In London 21 years ago but still sees death as "an outrage" and seeks ways to soften its sting

For the doctors and nurses at the south London hospice it had been a wrenching weekend. Twelve patients had died between Friday and Sunday nights, and by Monday morning death's wide swath had left the staff physically and emotionally exhausted. It was time for a tall, somewhat stout, white-haired woman to provide the reassurance of her presence: standing in a stairwell, in the path of grief-bruised nurses and doctors, greeting each with a jovial smile and concerned questions: "How was your weekend?" "Are you exhausted?" "Are you coping?"

If there is one thing that Cicely Saunders knows about, it is coping....

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