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I'm A Cruel Bitch?


The Sage Nabooru
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When I was Lutheran, death was a disaster. Because you never knew whether so-and-so's faith was strong enough to get them into heaven. It wasn't like death among Catholics, where just being a good guy or girl is good enough and anyway there's always that dogmatic loophole that will get you a seat in the Sky Arena. When you're justified by faith, you never really know the amount you need to get into heaven, so a total and complete shunning of enjoyable life in the name of serving da Lawd is considered the best bet to take. And since nobody is deep down willing to love the stern Lutheran god more than their entire family, that leaves everybody on their toes.

 

For example, for the Catholic funerals, there's the funeral itself, then the drive out to the local family bar to enjoy a few drinks in Gramps's memory and talk about what a better place he's in. In Lutheran funerals, the basic feeling is one of incredible dread and foreboding of where exactly Gramps might be right now (it all came down to that Book of Life - you were either in it or you weren't, end of story) and the pastor's speech is often along the lines of "Before you all get your hopes up......"

 

Since I've moved on to other spiritualities I find myself a lot more at ease about death. My personal belief on it can be summed up in that I don't have anything to be afraid of. In Lutheranism and in I think a lot of Protestantism in general it is stressed that once somebody goes over on the "other side" we earthbound losers have absolutely no way of ever gaining contact with them again until we croak as well. (This is why praying to saints is condemned.) Now I feel a lot more comfortable thinking that who has gone before really is in a better place, and watching over me. In fact I don't even view death as a tragedy anymore, just another step in life. Like any other step I think it warrants more celebration than weeping and gnashing of teeth. I rather think that the "dead" find all our mourning really quite pointless.

 

Right now my grandfather is I think getting close. He's had a stroke a few years ago and already gets "blackouts" involving dizziness, vomiting, etc. My grandmother drives him since it's probably a felony to let someone like him out on the motorways (the last time I was in the car with him I very seriously feared losing body parts in a freak accident). Although he would probably last longer if he actually improved his diet and lifestyle he's a stubborn old goat who absolutely refuses to change anything about his habits, and a diet of expired bakery goods "taken" from the food pantry by my grandmother can't be all that healthy.

 

My mother of course dreads the very idea that her father's physical body is nearing the end of the line, and I know we'll probably have to restrain her when it does hit it, moaning and groaning about how she'll never see him again, etc. But seeing the way my grandfather is now - slow, dependent, probably in pain - I personally take the viewpoint that it will be good for himself and the family when he finally sheds this skin. The one time I shared this viewpoint with my mother I stopped myself before she broke my jaw.

 

Isn't it strange that the people that treasure the idea of Christian heaven the most, dread dying the most as well? I guess because there's always a great fear involved of hell, but still. I'm considered the cold, heartless bitch for taking the position of the death and release from the body as a good thing, to be celebrated, rather than instilling in myself a complete terror of what will of course inevitably be my own fate. Christians can be strange people.

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You're not a coldhearted bitch for thinking of death as a release from suffering. It *is* a release from suffering.

 

A lot of people, I think, aren't really thinking about anything but how painful it's going to be for *themselves* when they lose someone they love. They don't want to lose a person, they don't want them to die, so maybe that's why they find it offensive when others don't share their ideas about death.

 

I kind of figure, well - fuck 'em. I've had loved ones die and it hurt like hell, but it actually hurt more to watch them spend their remaining months in pain and suffering. It was a relief, frankly, when each of my grandfathers died, and my great aunt as well. It was just time. They were ready, and it just didn't make sense for them to hang around any longer.

 

What I've noticed seems to confuse or upset a lot of people is my attitude about my own death. Have you ever seen "Harold & Maude"? Well, I'm with Maude on that one. Seriously. Once the day comes when I'm sick, in pain, unhappy, and can no longer function as a thoughtful, productive member of society, I want to be able to take the .45 caliber solution. Fuck lying around, hurting and miserable, utterly useless in a nursing home somewhere, waiting to die. Ain't gonna do it.

 

Somehow the idea of senior suicide just really freaks people out. I dunno. It's like they think that the way to die is to just last as long as you can until your body finally gives out and just goes.

 

Hm, and this is sort of reminding me of this situation that came up when my great aunt died.

 

My Auntie Sue lived in Texas. She was the kind of person who planned for everything and was very practical about the business of her life. She had her headstone purchased, her plot purchased, and her funeral planned when she was in her 70's. She even had her pallbearers picked and her outfit chosen. She also had her will and finances in order. She wasn't suicidal, she just knew she was going to die sometime, so she figured she'd get all her ducks in a row.

 

She made it to the ripe old age of 96. She did pretty well until her late 80's, living on her own until she broke both hips. After that she went into assisted living for awhile, then developed senile dementia. She spent the last couple years of her life happily talking to the fairies while her body just gradually broke down.

 

The thing this all reminds me of was this conflict my mom had with the nursing home Auntie Sue was in. Sue had a DNR order and a living will, and in her lucid days had made it absolutely clear that she wanted no potentially life-saving measures taken at the end of her life - no feeding tubes, no oxygen, not even blood transfusions. However, when it came down to the time when she was actually dying, my mom got into a huge fight with the nursing home because they kept violating my aunt's DNR.

 

Their goal was to keep her alive as long as possible, to take every lifesaving measure they could, regardless of what the patient wanted. They thought it was inhumane and shocking that my mother was wiling to let my great aunt "just die". My mom's dad (great aunt's brother) had just died recently and the nursing home decided that my mom was projecting all her feelings about her father's death onto this situation, which they decided was "totally different" - basically they accused my mom of being emotionally unstable. She finally had to pull out her Durable Power of Attorney and whip their asses with it; she ended up moving my dying and miserable aunt to hospice care in Fort Worth, where she passed peacefully away after a week of some of the best care she ever got in her life.

 

It was really just weird to see the regional differences in how death should be handled, and why. I mean here in WA, quality of life is more important than quantity; there's hospices everywhere and lots of support for the dying and their families. In small-town Texas, quantity of life mattered more, and us weirdos from the godless Northwest were seen as cruel. There was an element of "god will take her when it's her time" at work, yet the irony of it all too was that the folks at the nursing home didn't seem to notice or think that their end-of-life DNR violations counted as interfering with God's Plan for my aunt.... go figure.

 

It was just weird. Just this major weird culture clash. I mean here were these nursing home folks appalled at my mom, asking her, "So you're just going to let her DIE???" And we're like... jeez, she's 96 years old, has congestive heart failure, her mind went 3 years ago, she can't feed herself, what the fuck do you people think, that she has a *future* or something???

 

Anyway. I've kind of rambled a lot, sorry 'bout that... like I said it just got me thinking. The way people think about death is... yeah. I dunno. It's weird.

 

I hope your grandpa's passing is short, painless, and peaceful.

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Isn't it strange that the people that treasure the idea of Christian heaven the most, dread dying the most as well?

 

It is strange considering the fact that it should be Christians who fear death the least if Paul is to be believed ("O death, where is thy sting?") since Kryasst is supposedly Magically Undead and all that, but I think it highlights the probable reality that deep down inside Christians know that their beliefs aren't true. They know that death is just that - DEATH. It is THE END. They just can't admit it. My very religious fundie fanatic aunt was probably the most emotional person at my grandfather's funeral. Yes, strange, if she TRULY believed that he was "in a better place" or in "Heaven". Indeed. Glory!

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What I've noticed seems to confuse or upset a lot of people is my attitude about my own death. Have you ever seen "Harold & Maude"? Well, I'm with Maude on that one. Seriously. Once the day comes when I'm sick, in pain, unhappy, and can no longer function as a thoughtful, productive member of society, I want to be able to take the .45 caliber solution. Fuck lying around, hurting and miserable, utterly useless in a nursing home somewhere, waiting to die. Ain't gonna do it.

 

Somehow the idea of senior suicide just really freaks people out. I dunno. It's like they think that the way to die is to just last as long as you can until your body finally gives out and just goes.

 

 

 

 

I've often thought that myself, and said it about my own life. We can be humane and put our pets to sleep to end suffering, so why not ourselves? I'm all for it. It would need to be regulated, of course, but I think legalizing it would be okay. We have DNR procedures, to me, this isn't so very different.

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You know, I thought of death that way even when I was Christian. My mother, who had cancer, died when I was in high school and I was Lutheran at the time.

 

Now, we never really got along when she was alive because she was very much a fundy. However, when you have an illness like cancer that is long-term and the person suffers with it for years, and knows that it is most likely going to be terminal, I don't think the person should have to suffer until the end. Maybe that's just me, though.

 

And, granted, there are more treatments for cancer now than there were in the early 90's. Back then it was chemo, and that probably caused her as much suffering as the disease did.

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What I've noticed seems to confuse or upset a lot of people is my attitude about my own death. Have you ever seen "Harold & Maude"? Well, I'm with Maude on that one. Seriously. Once the day comes when I'm sick, in pain, unhappy, and can no longer function as a thoughtful, productive member of society, I want to be able to take the .45 caliber solution. Fuck lying around, hurting and miserable, utterly useless in a nursing home somewhere, waiting to die. Ain't gonna do it.

 

Somehow the idea of senior suicide just really freaks people out. I dunno. It's like they think that the way to die is to just last as long as you can until your body finally gives out and just goes.

 

 

 

 

I've often thought that myself, and said it about my own life. We can be humane and put our pets to sleep to end suffering, so why not ourselves? I'm all for it. It would need to be regulated, of course, but I think legalizing it would be okay. We have DNR procedures, to me, this isn't so very different.

 

Add my name to the list of people who agree. Whenever I bring this up around "Christians", they freak out! Christians, of all people, seem the most fearful of death... it's quite perplexing.

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What I've noticed seems to confuse or upset a lot of people is my attitude about my own death. Have you ever seen "Harold & Maude"? Well, I'm with Maude on that one. Seriously. Once the day comes when I'm sick, in pain, unhappy, and can no longer function as a thoughtful, productive member of society, I want to be able to take the .45 caliber solution. Fuck lying around, hurting and miserable, utterly useless in a nursing home somewhere, waiting to die. Ain't gonna do it.

 

When I worked at the nursing home, I was surrounded by people who had absolutely no concept of their own existence. It would be safe to say that they were most likely not aware of anything, brain 90% dead, rolled into beds, rolled out of them in the morning, wheeled down to the dining hall where they were (probably, again, unbeknowst to them) fed liquified shit food, wheeled in front of a television to sit and rot for a few hours until the next medication administration, feeding or evacuating/washing. The only comments they had made in years amounted to moans, groans and babbling incoherently.

 

But their kids had memories of back when Mom or Dad was sane, and loved those memories, so they, in the cases I was familiar with, insisted on dragging out their parents' miserable lives as long as possible and screaming at the staff when the sufferer tried to die. To me, that is the highest form of selfish cruelty - to keep a brain-dead carcass alive past the expiration date, with drugs, tube drips, and other pointless and artificial measures, because one can't bear to let them go. Especially considering they probably WANT to go, very, very badly, if they could.

 

That's what's sad about a lot of it - there's this idea that God should decide when a body dies. Yet all too often when a person would be classified as "practically dead" - no awareness, no sanity, no independence whatsoever - they break out the pills and IVs and potions to drag out the miserable existence as much as possible, in the name of "God should decide when a body dies". If such is the case, obviously God decided a long time ago to let them go. It's human effort that drags out the suffering as long as possible.

 

One of the myriad reasons I don't want children is that in my experience they're usually the ones who insist on this medical torture, even after being told hundreds of times by their parents themselves that if they ever reach that point to let them peacefully die.

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My mother died of complications surrounding diabetes. Lovely disease, kills you one part at a time. She had a living will that stated that no extraordinary measures be taken to prolong her life. Death was a release for her.

 

As an ex-Catholic, I know that church doctrine teaches that temporal suffering is supposed to lessen the time spent in pergatory or some such thing. (Wierd religion that says suffering is *good* for you.) Also, the church is supposed to be "pro-life". (Funny when you think of all the death they caused.) Yet, Pope John-Paul II didn't use any extraordinary measures to prolong *his* life.

 

I was brought up to believe that when someone dies, we weep for ourselves - not for them. I still think that's true....

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Personally, I want the option to end my life if all I'm facing is pain. I don't fear death. I fear pain. I fear lingering for years in pain and being trapped in an institution where I'm stuck with tubes and needles and have to be picked up and moved if I want to go anywhere.

 

I'm scared of being trapped in my body but still aware. I have moments with my illness of Fibromyalgia where that is a literal reality. It wears off after a couple of hours at most, but while it's happening I'm literally stuck in one position because just moving my arm gives me excrutiating pain in my joints and I'm lucky I still have the energy to keep my lungs moving. I would absolutely want somebody to kill me good and FAST if that ever became permenant.

 

I hope by the time my time is up, people will be allowed to anethsetize me to death like they did for my dog when his heart was failing. While I can understand how easily such a power could be abused, I also think it's a crime to allow people to suffer.

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