Thursday, May 04, 2006

Nah - It's Not the Way I Would Want to Go

I had a conversation with my mate Ralphie while I was in South Africa. About death. What would be better: if you found out someone had died suddenly or someone had died after a long illness?

I chose long, slow illness. Ralphie went with the sudden sort. We resumed the conversation over email and Ralphie explained that at least you get a chance to say goodbye to someone with the long, slow kind, but you don't have that opportunity with the sudden kind.

My mom died suddenly in November 2001. Heart attack. My father's illness has been killing him for the last 18 years. Emphysema.

Yeah - I was cheated out of patching things up with my mother when she died, but that's not half as bad as watching someone you love dying. What's more, he knows he's dying and this is causing him enormous distress.

My dad was admitted to hospital again recently and he's got a shrink looking in on him. Why?
Because on admission into the hospital he was shouting "I don't want to die!"

He is lonely, depressed and missing my mother and I am not sure how I can help him to create value with each day he has left. There is a massive limit to what he can do due to his illness and he's not been able to spend time working in his beloved garden.

And here I am feeling tremendously helpless.

I told a friend in an email today that I was accepting that this is his karma and witnessing this is mine blahblahblah... but I tell you what, sometimes I don't want to try to see things with my Buddha eye. I WANT to scream and shout and cry and tear down the walls and proclaim that THIS JUST ISN'T FAIR! Nichiren Buddhist believe that the manner in which you die reflects the way in which you have lived and in the next life, the manner in which you are born reflects the manner in which you died in your previous life.

You know... fuck that for a few moments. THIS JUST ISN'T FAIR!!! It sucks and it hurts to see him suffer. And yeah I am angry that for the best part of 30 years he smoked 60 cigarettes a day. Yeah, I am angry for the remaining 20 he smoked 30 a day. Yeah I am angry he quit and started again. And fucking yeah, I am angry that I am not there, that I can't do anything and that I cannot make things better. I am angry too that my life is here in the UK and I so not want to uproot that life to go back to SA permanently. I don't want my dad to be sick. I don't want my dad to die.

Tell you what, though: slow and painful is not the way I want to go. And I have been thinking about creating a living will even though they are not enforceable in the UK at present.

I realise how painful it must be for my dad too. No. This isn't fair. This sucks and it's hard and it's agonising. How do you create value out of that?


  1. Tanya darling, I think there's value in expressing these feelings on occasion. To ignore the anger is to deny the pain, and you can't do that. You're right, this suffering and agony isn't fair...

    I'm sad for your heartache, sweetie, and I'll keep you and your father in my thoughts.

  2. Is there a chance of him being moved to the UK? Would you have the resources, etc to care for him? That might be a way for the two of you to find some value in the time he has left.

    Just a thought.

  3. One of my grandmother's sisters went through the long slow death, and was a vegetable most of it. It was a lesson for the whole family. After that my grandmother and all her remaining sisters did the living will thing. I'm sure other's in the family did too. I should get one, but we always think we have plenty of time, don't we?