Empty Spaces

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


"I'm Jewish, you know, and my mother said, 'Always trust the rabbis.'" I never heard Mr. Weisman's refrain from his own lips. I never heard him say any words all. By the time I met him he was in a vegetative state, a man on the precipice of invisibility-white hair, thin pale limbs, melting into sheets of the same color. When I think about Mr. Weisman, I see empty spaces-the absence of his voice, the too-large bed for his shrinking frame, the always-empty chair by his bedside, and most of all, the myriad gaps in his life story. He was what in hospitals is often called a "patient alone": someone who lacks decisional capacity and has no surrogate to make medical decisions for him. Mr. Weisman's aloneness prompted his primary team to consult our bioethics service in order to formulate goals of care for him, including the possibility of hospice care.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)3-4
Number of pages2
JournalThe Hastings Center report
Issue number5
StatePublished - Sep 1 2017
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Issues, ethics and legal aspects
  • Philosophy
  • Health Policy


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