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Optimal relief for pain at the end of life: a caregiver’s tale
  1. David B Morris
  1. Correspondence to Dr David B Morris, Department of English, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, VA 22903-1737, USA; dbmkirk{at}


The current opioid crisis—driven partly by medical overprescription and partly by illegal drug abuse—is a significant cultural and professional dilemma in the USA and elsewhere. It has produced a strong reaction in favour of restricting medical use of opioids for pain, especially chronic pain. The author for a quarter century has written about pain from a biocultural perspective, and in this essay—based on his experience as primary caregiver for his late wife—he approaches the question of appropriate opioid use at the end of life.

  • medical humanities
  • care of the elderly
  • end-of-life care
  • narrative medicine
  • pain management

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  • Contributors I am the owner of the photograph of my wife.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent Obtained.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Author note The patient, my wife, is deceased. The memoir-like portions of this article--in keeping with the subtitle--focus on my experience as caregiver, rather than on her experience as patient.