Friday, May 1, 2020

Don't Fear The Reaper

The one thing for sure the Covid virus has highlighted for everyone is death, particularly among the elderly, and especially those living in care homes.  But, in spite of the inevitability of death, it remains something we are always in denial of. We don't want to think about it or plan for it. Unfortunately this "head in the sand" approach to death can often lead to a death that is more stressful and painful than it needs to be. With a little advance planning things could be reasonably pleasant and less fearful.

A will that puts your affairs in good order and a living will that ensures you don't receive painful and unnecessary medical procedures can go a long way towards acceptance of our fate and reduce the burden that would otherwise would fall on our loved ones and the State. Even though the average life expectancy has increased we shouldn't be surprised when people die in their 80's as it has to happen eventually. The Covid virus attacks the respiratory system much like pneumonia and not so long ago pneumonia was called the old person's friend because it was an easier and much preferable death to so many other diseases.

The trouble now is the usual killers, like heart disease, have been so successfully treated with preventative measures that the primary killer is cancer, a much nastier fate and one there will not be a cure for, despite all the well-meaning efforts of fund-raisers. In the face of terminal illness a better solution might be medical assistance in dying, or MAID as it is called. Prolonging life with mechanical interventions of any kind when there is no possibility of a return to a normal state is simply pointless and a waste of hospital resources. Much better to die on your own terms rather than someone else's.

We start dying from the minute we are born but, the end date is never fixed and, in the meantime, we need to make the most of it with an individual experience that is filled with knowledge and is as rich and rewarding as possible. To do this we need to accept the cards we've been dealt, live with purpose, and enjoy what life has to offer. It's what makes life meaningful, and to do otherwise is simply a waste. But, each one of us also needs to take responsibility for our own mortality, and that includes keeping fit and healthy while we're alive, and accepting of death when it beckons. If we do all of these things we will be at peace and there won't be any reason to fear the Reaper.

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