Barbara Bush's death in my home state of Texas brought tears to my eyes, but her decision to opt for comfort care at the end of life is a great educational moment for us all. Although her family did not specify the cause of death of our former first lady, we know she suffered from congestive heart failure and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), as my mother did. My father, a non-smoker, suffered from emphysema, congestive heart failure and diabetes.
Throughout their lives, my parents made three words clear: "If we become too ill and there is no longer a cure for us: Do not resuscitate."
Little did we know years later both would develop pulmonary diseases that would require tubes forced down their throats to feed air into their fluid-filled lungs.
More than six years have passed since the death of my parents, Victor and Socorro González, in my hometown in Brownsville. After a series of repeated hospitalizations, as my parents health care proxies, my siblings and I declined further medical treatment for them. Instead, we opted for comfort care, just as Bush did, that should have allowed doctors to minimize mom's and dad's suffering, so they could die as comfortably and peacefully as possible. Unfortunately, that is not what happened in my dad's case.