There’s something that has been on my mind a lot lately and I just can’t seem to shake it. I keep thinking about getting old and how we eventually end up. Maybe it’s because I just finished the book Water for Elephants and the parts about the man in his nineties in the nursing home broke my heart. Maybe it’s because my 92-year-old Grandpa just lost his only friend in his care home, his sweet neighbor from down the hall, and he is alone and wondering why he is still on this earth. Maybe it’s because I saw the movie The Green Mile the other night for the second time and once again there is an old man in a care home, remembering times past, sad, lonely, and close to death. And maybe it’s because I wore my Grandma’s jewelry twice this week, turning it over in my hands and remembering her in the past, and in the end.
I think what is bothering me is how your life typically lacks control near the end. Many people end up losing their minds, and they have no idea what’s going on around them, let alone their past. Or they are incapacitated by an injury or disease that steals their life force away little by little.
How many times have you heard someone say “If I ever end up with Alzheimer’s/Dementia/or non-functional due to a stroke, please just kill me.” Or, “I don’t want to be a burden on anyone; I don’t want anyone have to carry me to the bathroom, etc.” WE ALL SAY THESE THINGS, don’t we? No one wants to end up like that. But here’s the thing: You could be going along, maybe just in a ‘retirement community’ and you are independent, but need some conveniences that a place like that offers. But then – BAM, a stroke hits and changes everything. Before you know it – you are there. You are in that place you never wanted to be and you didn’t see it coming and couldn’t prepare for it, and now you don’t have the mind to beg someone to get you out. And soon you are just another empty shell in the cafeteria, staring off in the distance, while the people who care for you never really know you, or your life, or the person you once were.
So what do you do? Set up a contract with someone you trust to perform an assisted suicide should things go in the very last direction you want them to? And what of the religious/moral/legal implications of that? Will the legal side of it ever change do you think?
I’m sorry this is so depressing. Does anyone else get caught up worrying about this? What can I do to ease the worry?