I shared an article on my Facebook page- an opinion piece- written by Dr. Robert Klitzman in which he advocates for the right of terminally ill people to end their lives. The post stimulated comments among my friends regarding their personal experiences and thoughts.
The topic of death has been creeping around my brain and this blog. We don’t like to talk about death but we need to talk about it. I need to talk about it.
I guess it’s as good a time as any to start the dialog.
Cory Taylor was an Australian writer whose last book, Dying: A Memoir, advocated for the right to choose the circumstances around her death.
The difference between Klitzman and Taylor is that Klitzman is, ostensibly, healthy, Taylor was not- she knew she was dying. Klitzman writes from the perspective of a loved one who watched a terminal parent navigate the end of life and changed his view, Taylor writes from the first person experiencing the journey and her hopes for how it would play out. The difference is important, contemplating both perspectives helped me understand my strong desire to control my circumstances and the reluctance of those closest to me to discuss my death.
Having a Terminal diagnosis is generally accepted to mean a person has 6 months or less to live.
I am not Terminal. I am incurable as of this writing and my life expectancy is significantly reduced. My diagnosis generated a lot of emotion and thought- a big piece of it is my death.
Believe me, I pray for a miracle every night, but my personality demands that I plan. I understand I am operating at 100,000 feet now and, at 500 feet, my perspective may change. If what I am about to share sounds pompous, please know it is not intentional.
My diagnosis was sobering and yet, it had immediate benefit by providing focus and clarity of thought.
In a long, rambling conversation last night, with someone who is near and dear to my heart, I told her that I feel- at the age of 60- I have finally grown up. I don’t have time for people who add no value to my life or the lives of the people I love. I refuse to give power to circumstances beyond my control. I will speak with my heart, not my mind (challenging for me). In other words, I finally have a framework to operate in and am comfortable and confident in it.
Someone commented that my writing was “raw”. Thank you. I accept the comment as high praise.
Feeling is living, attempts to numb or avoid feelings are destructive. Been there, done that- have the scars to prove it.
I’ve written about the day I received my diagnosis and sat in my truck making promises to myself. What I didn’t share is my decision to put the end of my life in God’s hands. I turned it over- the when and how will be revealed on His schedule.
I did not give up, I freed myself to be the person I want to be and live the life I have always wanted.
In the process, I came to understand I am not afraid of death but I am terrified of dying badly. There is a difference- my fear drives my desire for control.