The mind is the last to consent
Or, Semi-poetic thoughts about death and dying
The mind is the last to consent –
Alternative scenarios tease us
Surely this can’t be the end
Wispy threads dangle enticements
We could try this or look into that
Prayers for miracles multiply
Cheerful faces mask sad truth —
The patient is dying, yet anguish
And well-meaning hope sometimes
Impede consent to the obvious
Resulting in further digressions
That produce even more anguish
The end is upon each of us sooner
Not later, with or without goodbyes
To ‘give in’ to death may seem to be
Callous dismissal of those we love
Or loss of hope or lack of faith to
Demand of God great things with
Or without the patient’s consent
Worse, if I’m a medical person perhaps
Giving in means failure to do my job
Even though I may agree that this
Dying person is sick unto death and
We were not created to live forever
In these temporary earth-bound bodies
My hero when it comes to dying is my sister Diane. She chose to go on comfort care after living with ALS for ten years. When she learned she had ALS, she worked with trusted people to identify what she was and was not willing to endure, and where she wanted to die—at home.
Even so, in the end she had to consent to the criteria she herself had itemized. She had to communicate to her doctors and nurses, ‘Enough is enough.’ She also had to trust that those with power of attorney would honor her wishes.
So what does it mean for me to ‘prepare’ for death? At the least, it means living each day well, insofar as I’m able. Especially when it comes to self-care.
I wish that were enough. Unfortunately, given medical structures and practices here in the USA, it isn’t. If I want to avoid getting caught in an endless search for ‘health’ or extension of life, it’s up to me to take the initiative. This includes decisions, paper trails, agreements, and work with family and friends involved with my care and wellbeing.
I can’t do this alone. I’m reading books, and have family and a few friends with whom I can talk. Yet it’s up to me. Even so, there’s no guarantee my wishes and directives will be honored. We don’t always get to choose the time or manner of our deaths.
Blessings to each of you, and thanks so much for listening.
©Elouise Renich Fraser, 18 June 2019
Photo taken by DAFraser, Longwood Gardens, 12 June 2019