I just picked up a book titled Being Mortal, in which the author, a doctor, considers the experience of mortality. He explains that he was taught in medical school how to keep people alive, but not how to let them die, or even have that discussion, if there was no longer anything he could do to make them better.
He says “our ideas about how to deal with finitude” (his word, not mine) are inadequate, if not lacking totally. He talks about doctors having conversations about the risks of operations—which can include severe complications such as paralysis and death—with greater ease than they can discuss why not having the surgery is the preferable decision. Even when they agree.
Death is a tough one. No matter our belief system. So is getting older and frailer, and losing pieces of our dignity. One would think, I would think, there is no better, more meaningful time for these discussions to occur. We are unversed, uncomfortable, under-resourced. We are ignorant, and perhaps too arrogant, to peer into this growing body of beings and be with our ineptitude. But if we don’t, we do ourselves and others a severe disservice. We don’t open the doors for the opportunity to make a difference.
Life carries with it opposites and paradoxes. Beginnings and endings, judgements of good and bad, peals of laughter and streams of tears. Where do you stand on this issue? Is it too upsetting to consider? Is it worth the difficult look into yourself it might require? Does anybody matter enough to you to open the door and find out?