“There is a ripeness of time for death, regarding others as well as ourselves, when it is reasonable we should drop off, and make room for another growth. When we have lived our generation out, we should not wish to encroach on another.” Thomas Jefferson, near the end of his life.
Is there such a thing as a natural death? Dying of old age? Not really. As our bodies gradually wear out, they become more subject to certain illnesses, one of which will eventually do us in. Modern medicine has developed the means to overcome some of these untimely events, which is terrific. Alas, modern medicine also can assist an unprofitable survival, in the spirit of keeping going at all costs. And in favoring the dying in hospital rather than at home in more natural surroundings. It appears 80% of Americans die in hospital. What an unpleasant way to go!
So medical science must be put in perspective. Likewise the thinking of many doctors [but not all, of course], which is often more oriented to healing specific dysfunctions and to life-preservation at all costs rather than to the overall health and life context of the patient.
I for one do not intend to carry on to the bitter end if that involves a serious degradation of my life, as will most likely be the case in the terminal stage of my cancer, or some other illness if I do indeed survive my cancer, still a very real possibility. I wish to leave behind a positive memory of myself, and so I shall.
When the time of terminal illness approaches and physical health starts to deteriorate in a bad way, I will most likely be helping things along, in a positive way. It is what is called dying with dignity. Just hastening things along a bit to die well.
I have not determined any specifics yet, it being much too early for that. And I will not be going early, life and family are too precious to me for that. I just want to let you know that there will come a time when we will face death in the eye. And celebrate this natural event rather than descend into gloom as our societal norms encourage us to.
So I will be dying a natural death, only one hastened briefly to add dignity to the occasion and avoid the mind-troubling ignominy of an inevitably drawn-out process that can be better controlled.
I do of course realize that these are troubled waters indeed and that societal consensus is lacking in this debate. That is why we as a family will be talking about it in an as engaged manner as you wish to, while keeping our emotional strings well tuned. I will be listening and reflecting a lot. I have much time on my hands, and all the time that will be needed to fully explore where we go with this. For we will be going forward together.
Summer greetings to all!