The patient was dying after undergoing aggressive treatment for a malignancy. Patient and family wanted "everything" to be done and the patient was transferred to the ICU for treatment of acute respiratory failure. The next day the patient's condition deteriorated further. The family decided against chest compressions or defibrillation; however, other aggressive treatment was continued. A "chemical code" was initiated and the patient was ventilated. The family was informed. As they stood in the hall outside the unit, the patient's wife asked if she could be with her husband. A nurse explained what she would see and accompanied her to the bedside. She stood at the head of the bed, stroked her husband's head and spoke softly in his ear. The patient's son came to the bedside and said his last words to his father. The wife was present when treatment was stopped and the patient was pronounced dead. She said to the nurse who had accompanied her, "You have given me the greatest gift possible--you allowed me to be with my husband at the end."

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