I was out the day she was admitted on my service. In my sign out I was told that she needed hospice care and she was dying.
When I met her; she greeted me with a smile. She was on high flow oxygen, she could not breathe well but she had this angelic smile. I discussed the overall prognosis that she was dying fast. I was proud of myself that I did communicate well, until later it fall upon me that it was her not me who was communicating at all.
The very next day and over few days later, in my interactions with her, I never noticed even a glimpse of fear. She was the same smiling, greeting face, wanting to go home. Not a word uttered about scare, fear, guilt, regret, blame.
How a person can keep smiling while knowingly dying is really a privileged experience for a few. I wonder is it extreme fear of death which makes one numbed-in-smile or those are a few lucky ones who embrace their forward journey with a no-fear-smile.