I thought that you might appreciate a recent blog post by one of my favorite evolutionary biologists, PZ Myers. The article he talks about is particularly interesting because it points out some of the differences those of you who work in the healthcare industry might observe between patients, and maybe give a reason to think about how to approach them in end-of-life situations.
As you will be able to tell, this guy has a pretty set opinion on religion, which can be a bit difficult for some people to hear. Still, I think the article itself provides some interesting insight into how different religious views, or at least the people who adhere to more fundamental and restrictive religious views, tend to cope with the ends of their respective lives.
From the article, "Patients also were asked if they would choose treatment intended to extend life as long as possible, even if it meant more pain, or if they wanted care that focused on easing pain even if it meant not living as long."
I've had a hard time answering this question. If I were alone, and not concerned with anyone else's feelings, hands down I would choose care that focused on easing pain, over a longer life. It's just one life - and what is the use in living it if you're miserable, unable to bring joy to other people and are certain it is only headed downward? Might as well be able to face each day with a smile, pass on what ever knowledge you can in the limited time you have and really make it worth it. However, I now consider whether the people around me would benefit from my living longer, even if it meant more pain. I suppose, that depends on when, during my life, this terminal disease would strike, and what responsibilities I had to the people who love me (young children vs grown, spouse, close friends).
Still, to the few people who have been around me when I'm sick, you know what an AWFUL, TERRIBLE, NO GOOD patient I am. So, I suppose that would have to play into the equation also. :)