Sandra Lopez (left) and her dog, Coco, greet hospice nurse Heather Meyerend last fall. In the weeks before Lopez died, Meyerend stopped by weekly to check her physical health, pain levels and medications. Amy Pearl/WNYC hide caption

itoggle caption Amy Pearl/WNYC

Tammy Heinsohn (left) and Carolyn Wilson sing in the meditation room of Alive Hospice in Nashville. They're part of the Threshold Choir, which sings to the dying. Emily Siner/Nashville Public Radio hide caption

itoggle caption Emily Siner/Nashville Public Radio

Barbara Mancini with her father, Joseph Yourshaw. Barbara Mancini via Compassion & Choices hide caption

itoggle caption Barbara Mancini via Compassion & Choices

What seemed like a burden can become a gift. iStockphoto hide caption

itoggle caption iStockphoto

Dr. Martha Twaddle talks to a patient and strokes her hair during a visit at the Midwest Palliative and Hospice CareCenter in Skokie, Ill., in 2012. Antonia Perez/MCT /Landov hide caption

itoggle caption Antonia Perez/MCT /Landov

Joe Takach comforts his friend Lillian Landry, as she spends her last days in the hospice wing of a hospital in Oakland Park, Fla., in 2009. J. Pat Carter/AP hide caption

itoggle caption J. Pat Carter/AP