A woman once asked me this question:
“I wonder if, when a person is told that they are dying from a deadly cancer , for example, and nothing can be done, is it better to make peace with the inevitable and prepare for death, or continue to fight looking for a miracle?”
The reader was thinking of a friend who had been told that there was no effective cure for her cancer that had spread to her liver and other organs. One doctor said chemotherapy would not help, while another thought she could try it. The patient opted to try the chemo. My reader pondered:
“I wonder if instead of spending what might be her last few weeks being sick and miserable from the effects of chemo if she might better spend the time with her children preparing herself and them for the inevitable.”
These insightful comments reveal the intense dilemma that arises at a time like this. Ultimately it is a choice each individual and family must make. Death will come to us all, but unfortunately we live in a culture that has not generally accepting of this inevitability.
To the extent that death is seen as part of an eternal cycle, we can assist the dying, and they us, to move on with dignity and grace. The process of consciously letting go of this life creates powerful opportunities for healing, resolving unfinished business, and expressing what is in our hearts.
Often a patient knows he or she is dying, and is ready to go, but may undertake further treatment because loved ones are afraid to let go. If ever there was a time for total honesty, it is at a time like this.
Ask the patient what she feels in her own heart, she really wants to do. If she wants to fight, don’t try to talk her out of it. And if she wants to let go, you must let go too. Surround her with love, and know she will take it with her.
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