Quality of Life is often taken for granted.
In the past few weeks I have had cause to stop and reflect on what it means to live, and die, well. Three separate recent instances have given me ample opportunity to ponder both wanting to live and wanting to die.
A younger friend triumphed at her third attempt to take her own life. I had not known her for very long, but in the short while that I did, she touched my life deeply and beautifully. We shared exchanges and experiences during a Spiritual Seminar and I remember looking deeply into her eyes and seeing her pure and beautiful essence looking back at me. I can’t imagine the inner turmoil that took her to the edges of her endurance, such that she could not see any other way out of her personal anguish – leaving her wanting to die.
How sad for those left behind: her husband, her family, her friends and work colleagues. Do they blame themselves for not being able to save her from herself? I hope not. They need love and support to celebrate and remember her beautiful soul and the love she brought during the time she was here with us. She was living life, yet choosing the peace of death for herself.
While working in a rest home, I had the real pleasure of meeting a middle aged man who was terminally ill. He told me of his recent exploits, his ‘bucket list’. He had admitted himself into the facility for palliative care, not in the city where he had lived for many years, as he did not want to burden his friends and acquaintances when he died. His estranged family lived overseas and he was matter of fact that they would not be visiting him. He told me about his spiritual beliefs, and that he was not afraid to die. He set about wanting to live his last days with the same enthusiasm that had brought him a very full and interesting life.
A colleague and I were the first two people to enter his room after he had ‘left’ his body. He was lying head propped on one hand, looking up to the ceiling with the clearest blue eyes. While my colleague went to report his ‘passing’ I had the opportunity to Bless him, thank him for allowing me to share some part of his Journey, and to wish him well on his continued Journey.
He had lived life at full tilt, and if he had any regrets he was philosophical that what had been was laid to rest. He died alone, yet touched the lives of each person who had a part in his final days. He lived fully in his body that was dying.
The third person is still living, yet wanting to die. He is elderly, had been a very fit and healthy husband and father – then suffered a severe stroke which left his body ‘half useless’. He says if the results of the stroke can’t be cured, he wants to die. He sees no way forwards if he can’t do all the things he used to do and has to rely on his wife and son to help him with the most basic life skills.
He is living death. He wakes every morning, hating the fact that he has woken. He goes to sleep at night wishing he would not wake. His family are at a loss – what to do? Why won’t he help himself?
In the end, quality of life seems to be the common thread. No matter what our circumstances are, when we feel nurtured and fulfilled we believe that life is truly worth living.
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