No life. But no death either.

A home for old people. One where the very old people are. People who have nearly nothing left to live for, who are literally waiting for the end. Have you ever been there? No? Humour me and do it. It’s an eye opener.

Go there and look around you. That is where society will send us. People have to get older and older because of science and health care. (Because we get older we’re also ‘allowed’ to work longer, despite the number of jobs going down because of automation, but more on that later perhaps.)

Are people made to be that old? And in that way? Like little heaps of human who have everything behind them, and nothing ahead except the coffin? I don’t think so.

How many of them would choose for a dignified end? Because a dignified existence isn’t an option for so many of them. If you still don’t know what I’m talking about then I implore you to have a look in such a home for the very old. Look at the walkers. The wheelchairs with all kinds of supports in which old people are fed. People who sleep most of the day or have no clue what’s happening around them.

That’s not for me. I would like to keep this life and death in my own hands. Enough, after all, is enough. Also where life is concerned.

I don’t want to be old that way

Sometimes you hear about, or talk to people whose parents don’t recognise them any more. That sounds sad. It’s even more sad when it happens to you. Like it did to me today. Dad was talking to me for a while already when suddenly he said, “The other one is coming too.” I asked him whom he was talking about. “Paul. He lives far away, and he has cats.”

Brain malfunctionWhen you hear that, it’s quite a shock. I told him I am that Paul. That surprised him. A little while later he started again about Paul. The one from Cuijk. Something like that makes me think.

Do I want to be old like that? Who does he think I am now? How often did he now know who I was before?

My Dad has been ‘slipping’ for a while already, and sometimes that’s hard to see. I know it’s hard on him as well; I can tell that from the look in his eyes and the pain in his voice. Everything becomes a jumble. Bookkeeping, computers, taxes, the past, the present, everything that once was and… perhaps even what never was? Today he told me, “It’s no good living like this.” He suffers from this too because he often has very clear moments and then he knows that in his head everything’s going wrong.

I don’t want to be old like that. When the time comes I want a dignified end. A good death. That is why I became a member of the Dutch Society for Euthanasia. Because, really, I don’t want to be old that way…

About life and death

bridgeLife is an amazing thing. You hardly ever stand still to realise that because it’s a given thing, and so common that there is no reason to reflect on it, usually. It is however something I try to appreciate as much as I can. Why, you may ask. Well, there is this opposite of life and that is death. Have you witnessed death? As in someone dying? I have. Several times. The last time it wasn’t a person but a cat. It didn’t make any difference to me. When death comes, it comes. Life comes to an end, either quickly and hopefully painlessly, or slowly while life puts up its last physical battle. A battle it can’t win.

We all will face this moment, either consciously or unconsciously. Life is what you enjoy now, death is what you’ll go through later. Will anyone of us enjoy death as much as we enjoy life? Who knows. No one I know has ever returned to talk about it. Death is inevitable though. And when you are reading this, you know that life is inevitable in its own way – because you are inside it now.

No, this is not meant as a promotion for death. It’s just a little ramble on the consequence of life, this thing we call death. The way out of life, if you will, and into… who knows.

When I was there with my friends, waiting for their cat to go through that portal between life and death, I was sad. I cried. The battle didn’t take long but it was painful to watch, knowing there was nothing anyone could do for him. Oh, the vet was on her way to help him end the struggle, but until she came, his body kept going even when life was fleeting.

Maybe you think “It was just a cat, what’s the big deal?” It wasn’t just a cat. It was life passing and death taking over. Death in itself isn’t bad. It is part of life. The time to pass over that threshold however can be bad. May your step into the next phase be swift and painless. And may you enjoy life to the fullest until you stand in front of that threshold.

/|\

So you want to live forever…

Lots of people have this dream of living forever. Well, they should be more specific with that dream because I’m convinced that most people forget something crucial. I’ll let you guess what that is.

My Dad is 91 years old since last September. His eyes are failing. Also his memory, legs, and arms aren’t what they used to be. And since this week even his dentures are failing. Yes, go ahead and laugh, because how can dentures fail? Well, when you get old your body shrinks. And that includes your jaws. And that in turn means that your dentures won’t fit any more. (Oh, right, hadn’t thought of that, huh?)

Are you already on the right track to the crucial bit?

You may want to live forever if you don’t get older. If you stay as healthy are you are now, or better still: if you can be like you were in your prime, let’s say 23 or 25 years old. There. Gotcha. You’re probably not 25 any more, so your wish comes a bit late. Think of how horrible your body will be when you’re 129. Or 241. Of course you don’t want to live forever like that.

What is life?

Maybe a silly question. An online search says:

life – lʌɪf/
noun
1. the condition that distinguishes animals and plants from inorganic matter, including the capacity for growth, reproduction, functional activity, and continual change preceding death.

2. the existence of an individual human being or animal.

I wonder about the second one. Oh, not in a physiological sense, but in a humane sense. It’s the second one, the one that doctors have to abide by through their Hippocratic Oath. (Link to PDF.) They basically promise to sustain the human machine (body) and do what they can to keep it going for as long as possible. But… Is that what we want?

I’m convinced that many of us have seen people in hospitals, connected to machines that keep their vital functions going as long as the heart keeps pumping. “Sustaining life.” It is not at all the first definition of life as listed in the beginning of this post. No ‘functional activity‘, no ‘capacity for growth‘.

Of course, this has been addressed in many places, through the years and centuries. I think there has to be a more humane approach to this, a manner in which people can choose to end living when they feel it’s their time.

The world should reconsider these values of life. It won’t be easy due to ethical arguments, but the way ‘life’ is treated now is very often inhuman. Inhumane.

Walmart. A killer company.

So let me get this straight. Walmart is a place where you buy food, clothes, toys and tools, and so forth. Online I found this picture, taken in a Walmart branch (according to the accompanying text at least). I believe it is real as a close friend of mine told me her husband saw these things at a Walmart too:

walmart rifles

 

According to the information in the post these are, amongst others, a “Sig m400, sig 522”. Not that this means anything to me, but these things look nasty.

As these things are not food or clothes, they must be tools or toys, right? Or rather, this falls under “and so forth”.

Why a person would want such a thing in their house or possession is beyond me, but that’s probably just me.

 

Why a company that promotes “live better” (it is on their logo, look up there, people) tries to make that more real by selling stuff that makes one die faster is even further beyond me. For the zombie apocalypse? For squatting mosquitoes?

deer-13980540749_xlarge

 

Or are they afraid for Rambi, the deer that shoots back?

 

Sentenced to live

Imagine you are a hard-working person, happy and glad to do all kinds of things. And you get a stroke that leaves you paralysed from neck to feet, so the only life signs you can give is blinking your eyes. Okay, this might not be appealing.

Now imagine that this happened to you 7 years ago, and since then you have not been able to do anything but lie somewhere and blink your eyes. I challenge you, do it for an hour. Just lie somewhere and let someone read your blinking eyes. Just an hour. Not 24, a whole day. Now imagine doing this for 7 years. 2555 days.

This happened to Tony Nicklinson in 2005. His life is a nightmare and asked doctors to end his life. He is paralysed so he cannot take something lethal himself, even if someone buys those for him. He has to be helped dying in an active way. We call this euthanasia. A judge ruled that they cannot allow someone to help Tony die, as this is murder, and only the politicians can change this. Tony has decided to fight this ruling.

“It is not what I had hoped for, but it is not unexpected,” Mr. Nicklinson made known. “Judges, as politicians, are happiest when they can evade real problems. This means another year of physical discomfort and misery to find out who owns my life: me or the government.”

See the BBC post.

There is the human approach for you. I really wonder what is in the mind of people who condemn others to such unhappiness, and disrespect someone’s personal wishes…

(On August 22nd, Mr. Nicklinson’s battle ended. He died.)