Monday, June 28, 2010

Go Gently Unto the Night

I just read a very interesting article, Americans are Treated, and Overtreated, to Death, from the Associated Press. It discusses how people in this nation fight tooth and nail to hold onto life, even in the face of incurable disease. Often times, the "cure" is as horrific as the illness itself.

I was particularly struck by the following:
The American way is "never giving up, hoping for a miracle," said Dr. Porter Storey, a former hospice medical director who is executive vice president of the hospice group that Morrison heads.

"We use sports metaphors and war metaphors all the time. We talk about never giving up and it's not over till the fat lady sings .... glorifying people who fought to their very last breath," when instead we should be helping them accept death as an inevitable part of life, he said.
Death -- being removed from this realm as a uniquely self-conscious entity -- will come to each of us. As Taoism and other belief perspectives see it, death and life are two sides of the same coin. Each derives its meaning from the other.

Since known of us KNOWS what, if anything, awaits us on the other side of the veil, it certainly is understandable why most people want to hold on so tightly to the existence they know. We don't wish to say goodbye to loved ones and we worry how they will cope once we are gone.

But no matter our fears at the unknown next step, eventually it will come. The yin and yang of the natural process will take over and nothing we do can forestall it.

I would like to think that, when my times comes, I will be able to employ the wisdom to allow myself to go gently unto the night. But I'm a realist and I understand that none of us can know how we will deal with our imminent death until we come face-to-face with it. We can offer up any amount of romantic speculation about what we will or will not do, but until it arrives at our door, all our talking is mere blather.

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