A Wynnewood Surgeon Embraces Death

Main Line Health's Dr. Karl Ahlswede helps patients and families cope with loss, grief and end-of-life decisions.

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As uncomfortable to face as it is inevitable, dying is an intensely personal experience—no one would argue that. Yet, that perspective fails to take into account the fear and uncertainty that engulfs family and friends.

Main Line Health’s Dr. Karl Ahlswede.Dr. Karl Ahlswede knows this anxiety firsthand. In fact, he welcomes it into his office when so many others opt to look away. His Wynnewood practice is centered on end-of-life advocacy and palliative care for patients and their families coping with the painful task of preparing for death. While some level of therapy is involved, that’s not Ahlswede’s primary goal—nor is it his specialty. Rather, he asks the tough questions that must be addressed from a practical standpoint, making the process a healthier experience for all.

“Some people faced with this decision want to utilize every single technology available until their heart stops beating,” says Ahlswede. “Others say they never want to go to a hospital for treatment, and that they want to pass in their own home in a comfortable situation.”

Once everyone is on the same page, dialogue is honest, informative and more comfortable. “It’s that initial conversation about the D-word—death or dying—that’s really the most fearful aspect. Most don’t express this fear, and they do the most harm by not doing anything,” Ahlswede says.

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