I often wonder if declared progress in the medical field is always good. There is no doubt that people live longer these days and much of that is due to better medical care as well as better knowledge of healthy lifestyles. But when people have aged beyond the stage of when they are alive but not living and/or they are being kept alive by artificial means, is that really progress?
It is extremely difficult for a family, or even a country in the case of a loved and respected leader, to accept that a person is no longer able to live a productive life but we need to respect them and release them. Clearly, my inspiration to write this is because Nelson Mandela is in a critical condition in hospital and is 94 years old. It would seem that even if he does come out of hospital he will not really be able to function in society. He has been an amazing man and we South Africans have been truly privileged to have him as a leader of our young democracy. He was despised and imprisoned and yet, emerged a humble and generous man.
It is my belief that when a person has reached the stage that being alive is a burden for them we need to let them know that, although we love them dearly, we acknowledge that they have done their earthly work and we release them to rest in peace in every sense of the word. Yes, we do miss them but is it not better to remember them with joy rather than the struggle they endure to stay alive for our selfish desires.
This is not being written from a theoretical or vague thoughts basis but from personal experience. I was at the bedside of each my parents when they died and it was once they knew that the family has ‘given them the OK to go’ that each did so very peacefully after having suffered for quite a long period each time. My Dad waited until he knew that my mother will not be left alone and when he saw me with her he quietly took his last breath. With Mum, I actually told her that, as much as we loved her, we knew that she was tired and was released with the love of all her children. Having experienced this painful but loving experience, I have passed on this advice to others and had them come back to me and say that it was the best thing they could have done for a dying parent or spouse. This is not euthanasia which, personally, I do not support, but it is allowing the dying to go with dignity and the knowledge that their family will be fine.
“Every life deserves a certain amount of dignity, no matter how poor or damaged the shell that carries it.”
Rick Bragg, All Over But the Shoutin' What a very thought provoking comment. So many have a body which is
just a shell of its former self and yet family and friends keep praying and hoping that there will be a miracle and the loved one will be his/her former self again. We must remember that each of us is mortal and when we reach the end of our days we want no more than to be allowed to die with dignity.
Why do we do everything we can think of to prevent a person from death? If they have been a role model or particularly special to us, I would think that the best we can do is thank God that the person was in our lives and then honour that person by doing all we can to demonstrate his/her greatness in our own lives.