Tag Archives: death

Enjoying life and living in the present

Dennis Potter is not a particularly memorable man and before watching this video I had never heard of him. He had some fame from television series and as a screenwriter, but never won many awards or earned world-wide fame. Toward the end of his life, mere weeks before his death, he recorded this interview where he reflected on the shortness of life and how to live in the “vividness” of the present. I think it is a good lesson for the rest of us – from a man who recognized his ow mortality.

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Euthanasia: Man mercy kills wife of 62 years

I read an article about an 86 year old man who killed his suffering wife with a revolver. She had been suffering for years and begged him to end her life. I couldn’t help but picture facing my wife in the same situation. Seeing her suffer. Tears rolling down her eyes as she begs me to shoot her. “Will it hurt” she asks. I can picture her final moments, while I’m holding her tight. My last conversation with her – we don’t deserve this. God.

This got me thinking: This can’t be happening. Not in 2013. We’ve sent a man to the moon for God’s sake and we can’t figure this out?  I wonder why we can’t have an adult conversation about Euthanasia? A man should not have to make the decision between watching his wife suffer or concede to her pleads for death – he shouldn’t have to be the one to kill her – and surely he shouldn’t be shamed in public for it!

Euthanasia

This isn’t only a question of killing yourself. This is a question of morality. A question of what the Government’s role in your life, your suffering, should be.

Should a man be allowed to kill himself if he so pleases? What about help someone else end their life if that’s what they want? Where is the line drawn when it comes to the rights to your own body, murder, and protecting the mentally ill from themselves?  Maybe it’s easy to see why no clear solution has been developed yet.

It seems simple. The right thing to do might seem like picking a side and demanding legislation to enforce it. You demand the government outlaw such actions in the name of protecting the mentally ill or as not to encourage such suicidal behaviors. We do no want to send the wrong message about the value of human life! I admit, that sounds reasonable.

On the other hand perhaps you have experienced the slow deterioration of a loved one when you were powerless to help. You could do nothing but watch as they died – slowly in agony – losing their dignity and their life I can only imagine what watching the love of your life plead for you to end their life must feel like. Not wishing those circumstances on anyone you demand a person’s right to end their own life, if they see fit, be protected under the law. That seems reasonable too.

So where is the balance? What is the right mix of the prevention of suffering and protection of those who need psychological or clinical treatment for depression? I think the solution starts with having an adult conversation.

An Adult Conversation about Euthanasia

The truth is that there are appropriate times where Euthanasia may be appropriate and other times when it’s not. The problem is, in my opinion, doctors or other care-givers have been excluded from the decision making process. They are prohibited from appropriately diagnosing or aiding in these situations at all. What’s left is a black market where the truly and critically dying are bunched together with the mentally unfit and suicidal.

If doctors were able to appropriately diagnose and aid with ailing patients and utilize Euthanasia when appropriate people would not have to resort to shooting their loved ones in the head with a revolver to ease their pain. If a person could go, in confidence  to a physician, and request an end to their life the doctor could carefully determine if the person is truly suffering or if they are simply ill and need additional treatment.

Instead, what our current system does, is make innocent people murderers. Or refusal to discuss Euthanasia makes it virtually impossible to distinguish the mentally ill from the critically suffering. It forces people to decide between helping their loved ones pass or watching them suffer for days, months, or even years. In the end – sometimes it even prevents treatment completely.

Perhaps what we need is to recognize that Euthanasia is neither good nor evil, but a necessary part of medicine. We should treat it just like any other serious medical procedure.

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PeePaw on Dying

My wife’s “PeePaw” is 89 years old. Though I’ve barely spoken to him over the past decade I admire him. Once a year at Christmas parties or perhaps at a special event our paths cross and we exchange courtesies, but I’ve always known instinctively he was something special. One of the good ones, I guess.

This past Christmas our family gathered like always, but I could tell that something was different with PeePaw. He moved a little slower, his complexion wasn’t quite as vibrant, and it was evident he was in poor health. Having noticed this I even mentioned to my wife she should be sure to spend a little extra time with him – he may not make it to next Christmas.

The Call

Then, two nights ago my wife gets a phone call. PeePaw is in the hospital. The third such time since Christmas. He’s a strong old man with high spirits so death never seems to be able to take him. She is informed, like the other two times, this might be “it”. So she visits.

PeePaw’s spirits are high and he has no delusions regarding his impending death. He faces it and even jokes about wanting to eat nothing but cake – and does – because he’s going to die soon anyways. We talk about travel, which he informs us he and his wife of 70 years did a lot of in their youth.

He shares stories of WWII, travels in Peru, Guatemala, and his personal favorite – Switzerland. I’m amazed at the detail of his memory, the anecdotes and witty stories he shares. This man, perhaps lying in his death bed, shares stories of a life well lived.

PeePaw is a millionaire too. But I’ve not heard him share stories about his days in the office or growing his business (of which I have never heard him talk about, ever), but rather the highlights of his life are stories of exploration, adventure, good food, love and family.

PeePaw is a wise man.

Gun Stats: Gun Deaths by Category

Since I couldn’t find a chart I liked – I created this one. Seems like if we could do something about mental health issues and gang violence we could almost ignore guns all together. Why are so many people committing suicide? Why are so many people turning to gangs. These are the real questions we should be asking.

Is gun control the solution? I don’t think so. Here are the facts so you can decide for yourself.

Gun Deaths by Category

Sources:

1.Total Firearm Deaths: 31,672 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/injury.htm
2.Total suicides by firearms: 19,392 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/fastats/suicide.htm
3.Justifiable Homicide (self defense by citizen against felon): 201 http://cnsnews.com/blog/stephen-gutowski/fbi-77-justifiable-homicides-involved-firearms-99-police
4.Justifiable Homicide (by police against felon) 343 http://www.bjs.gov/content/homicide/d_justify.cfm
5.Accidents: (2010) 851 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_06.pdf
6.Gang related (2010) 8880 http://www.cdc.gov/nchs/data/nvsr/nvsr61/nvsr61_06.pdf

A New Year. An Old Man.

“You better give your Peepaw a hug, I don’t think he has much longer left.” I told my wife.

His eyes were watering, he was struggling to breathe, and sometimes I would see him shake a little as he was trying to move around. The rest of the house was rustling about almost like they didn’t notice the poor old man coming to terms with his own demise.

It was only a year ago, Christmas time last year, that I had spent time with my wife’s Great Grandfather. He seemed so much more alive then, but now his body seems ready to give out. To let go of the life still in his eyes, to rest.

I wonder to myself if he feels alone. The children running around the house, parents chatting about nothing, but Peepaw sits alone in a comfortable recliner enjoying what will probably be his last Christmas. My observations are full of mixed emotions.

Here sits a man who has had a full life, much better than most. He has been married to his dear wife for over 60 years, he has started and handed down a successful business, and has a wonder family surrounding him. What more could a man ask for in his final days. How much more peacefully could anyone go?

On the other hand I feel a hint of dread. The curtains are closing, his inevitable death is coming quickly, but he is alone in his journey in this. No one can truly empathize with what he must be feeling – it must be a little strange that everyone moves around so carelessly going about their daily business as he knows that these are his final hours. Literally his final moments of existence on this planet. Everyone pretends not to notice – getting dessert almost seems more important.

Of course it’s not that no one cares. He’s an 89 year old man and his death is something almost everyone has accepted – even if it’s just subconsciously. Something unsaid we have all agreed to. Inevitability. Finality.

Still part of me feels like we should all be crowded around him – appreciating the man and his life – while he’s still coherent enough to appreciate the gesture. Part of me wants to lean in and whisper a question: “What is the one thing I should know about life?” Oh the knowledge, the wisdom, he must have during these final hours. Regrets, pride, advice.

If there is any sort of afterlife. Any karma. Any higher power. Or even if there isn’t. Let it be known that a young man noticed you that day – your final Christmas. Maybe its some comfort, some justice. A young man unrelated by blood, a young man that never said more than a few words to you, a young man who only shook your hand and stared you in the eyes and tried to communicate at that moment that I appreciated your existence, noticed, cared.

I didn’t ask anything, you never lectured me, but I learned a lot from you.

We are not Supermen

This awesome blog post is brought to you by Holden, the new kid on the block here at BlogTruth.

Last week my wife called me and told me she might have cancer. It was a strange moment when the news came over the tinny little speaker of my cell phone. I was standing in the hallway of a client’s office with strangers pacing back and forth around me when I got the news. I was 400 miles away from home and wouldn’t be back for three more days to confront the grim news with her in person.

I could tell she was scared as hell, and I was too. I told her to stay calm, take it a day at a time and not overreact. Inside I was having trouble taking my own advice.

As soon as she gave me the news, I felt like I was Batman being unmasked by the joker in front of a mob of angry Gotham citizens, completely unarmed and defenseless. I could only imagine how she was feeling. In an instant I must have parsed through a hundred different questions to myself. How would our daughters adapt? How would I adapt? How would we deal with watching her final days count down one by one? My wife is only 34, how can she have cancer! If she’s sick I’ll need to quit my job to be with her, but if I quit my job I won’t have insurance. After she passes I’ll have to quit my job to be home with the girls…

After a few rattled moments I settled down and collected my thoughts. Regardless of how many questions I had or how colossal my fears, I knew I had to be the logical, grounded and methodical partner in the marriage and I knew my wife would be looking to me to keep my shit together so that she could keep hers together.

You are not Invulnerable

Sometimes I feel like I’m a tank, like no matter what life throws my way, I’ll just plow through it and keep forging ahead. That short phone call reminded me that is not so. In a way, we all live in glass houses built on foundations of sand waiting for one unexpected catastrophe to rear its nasty little head and fuck it all up. For a few days I was angry at what my wife was going through. I was annoyed that people insisted we pray over it or that God had some sort of awesome plan. I was sad at the idea of my little girls growing up without their mother and heartbroken that my one year old wouldn’t even remember her. But most of all, I was pissed off that there was absolutely nothing I could do about any of this. No amount of insurance or financial planning, healthy eating or exercise regiments, or anything else could prevent my wife or anyone else from developing a serious illness like this. There was no one or nothing to blame, shit just happens sometimes.

A Week after the Bad News

A week later and things have looked up a bit. My wife is scheduled for an outpatient surgery next week and the doctor didn’t seem overly alarmed. We’re all hoping for the best but unfortunately that isn’t really ideal for a take action guy like me. I like identifying problems and attacking them, only in this case there is nothing to attack, there is only vulnerability. There is only the tired and defeated super hero unmasked and without his utility belt, exposed for the world to do as it will to him.  Suddenly you realize you’re really not so tough after all and definitely not a super hero. You’re just a guy hiding behind a façade, and the Joker just kicked you in the balls.

Fuck cancer.

-Holden

Aurora, CO Mass Shootings: Lets talk about Culture and Gun Control

What happened in Auora, Colorado was a tragedy. Everyone can agree with that. The media is taking this as an opportunity to parade it around the television and internet – which I have no problem with – to debate the most obvious topic on hand: what does this mean for gun control.

The same talking points are being regurgitated across the news outlets and the respective conservative or liberal leaning stations are standing their ground without much bend or surprise in their arguments. So the story goes, but gets us nowhere, because frankly guns aren’t the problem in America – it’s the culture.

We are breading a culture of violence and a desensitized populous unphased by the slaughter of human life. We are a modern day Spartan society. Warriors are heroes looked upon as Gods of society.

Worse – the “gangster” or criminal mentality is rewarded by praise from peers and television. Even I find myself rooting for drug dealers and murderers on TV.

Joining the military to kill our enemies is taken lightly it seems and greeted with a “thank you” from society. Killing a few civilians a few thousand miles away with a drone has literally become as easy as a video game. Sometimes I wonder if we take the loss of human life seriously enough or if the constant bombardment of death has made it invisible.

Liberty without Responsibility Fails

I’ve argued before the importance of maintaining our rights to bear arms – it’s essential to our liberty as individuals and as a country. However, we cannot have liberty without responsibility, period. That responsibility includes instilling values of right and wrong in our children and holding our peers in society to the highest possible expectations. Liberty is only successful in combination with morality.

Among developed nations we are the most violent. We aren’t killing each other for food, drug cartels aren’t our overlords, and we aren’t fighting for survival; yet because of some crude sense of enjoyment – the incentive provided by a perceived benefit granted by society as a whole – we embrace violence. Sometimes, if enough people die, we hear about it on the news.

Where do we go from here?

Over the next few years and decades we basically have thee choices. We can either concede to violence until the people finally beg our Government to play the parent and take our 2nd Amendment right way (or at least strictly impede it) or we can change the current prevailing culture. I think most of us, even the most liberal of us, would prefer the latter.

We teach peace and the infinite value of the human life. We demand personal and social responsibility. We instill these facts in our children and our peers.

People not the Government

I am a strong advocate for action and culture change brought upon by the people and not by our Government simply because we have been shown time and time again that no one can force a group of people to behave.

When the Government tried out prohibition it failed, the drug war is failing us now, and I imagine that for America (where the gun culture is so strong) an attempted law prohibiting fire arms would fail too – or at least only keep them out of the hands of law abiding citizens. So, to me, the only logical thing to do is to hold ourselves personally accountable.

My mom attempted Suicide today

My Mom called me while I was at work today. She was upset, but that’s not terribly unusual. She often calls me crying when my father and her have had a fight. I stepped outside to get some privacy and that’s when she said it.

“I just swallowed a whole bottle of Klonopin”.

She was sobbing almost uncontrollable at that point and the adrenaline hit me in the face like a hammer. I almost started to shake and I could feel my lungs contract a little because my body was preparing itself in a fight or flight sort of way.

“Mom, call 911 right now.” She refused. “Mom, for your only son, please call 911 right now.” She refused again and the crying became more intense. “I just want to go and see Jesus” She said. The crying became uncontrollable at that point so I hung up. I took a deep breath and knew it was essential that I stay calm so I could handle the situation; however I couldn’t for the life of me remember my Mom’s address to call 911.

By the time I was able to reach 911 I was informed that parametics were already on the scene. Apparently my Mother also called her sister. I honestly believe that her “attempted suicide” was more a call for help than anything else. She didn’t really want to die.

More to the Story
Oh, but the story gets more interesting. After rushing to the hospital some hours later I find my aunt who has interesting news for me.

“They found Meth in your Mom’s system.”

My only question was who is she getting it from. “She’s getting it from your Father – he’s addicted to.”

So great – though my parents are separated they occasionally share a few hits of Meth together – how romantic. I can’t say I’m surprised though, I’ve had to deal with this shit my entire life. Fucking druggies and liars – you can’t really have one without the other. My parents are both.

I immediately called my father to get the whole story because as it turns out my aunt is a notorious liar too. I have to be a goddamn CIA agent to get any truth out of anyone. So my tactic was to seperate each, question them, and compile the truth from each of their corroborative stories.

Not surprisingly my Dad lied. He first said he had no idea what I was talking about. He said it so convincingly I’m sure he believed it himself. After about a half hour of questioning and begging him to simply “man to man, level with me” he came clean. He has himself been on Meth for years and occasionally shared with my Mother. This is not surprising since each of my parents have done stints with drugs that they finally admitted to me over the years. My Dad, though he does Meth daily and will not quit, claims he is not addicted.

So here I am – a guy trying to live his life. A mother who attempted suicide today, a mother on Meth, a Father also addicted to Meth – and just wondering what the hell I’m supposed to do with this mess. I have shielded myself and my wife from my family with a veil of selfishness – a refusal to recognize my parents’ problems as my own and continued successes in my own life. I refuse to bring myself down because of them. I’ll handle this shit just like I do everything else. If/When I have kids one day – they will never have the burden of their parents to worry about.

I think the helping my Mom to move closer to me is out of the question now, but we’ll see how this plays out. The idea of bringing that kind of trouble into my life may be worse that leaving her to rot in her own soup of destruction. This requires more thought.

She was asleep when I arrived at the hospital so I didn’t even speak to her. The hospital refused to wake her because she was “extremely aggressive” when they brought her in. More good news.

What’s Next
So for the next few days my Mother gets to stay in the hospital. I get to drive 60 miles (one way) to visit her and eventually they will transfer her to some sort of mental hospital for a week or so. At least I’ll have something to write about for the next year decade.

How to get more blog readers: Post about a guy in Miami getting his face eaten off

I’m a little disgusted.  Yesterday my dear old blog was inundated with page viewers.  There were a few thousand.  I actually broke my record for views in a single day.  I was happy, but immediately I wanted to know why.  What was the breakthrough?  What had I done to deserve so much love?  Had another popular blog linked to me?  Had I struck Google gold?  No.

I posted about a guy in Miami eating another guy’s face.  The truth is, that post wasn’t even really about that.  Still people were drawn to the title like a moth to light.  Why?  After all of the decent content I try to post on this site – pouring my heart out regarding politics and religion – my number one post by far is about some poor homeless guy getting his face gobbled up by a maniac.

Yesterday’s Top Posts

What’s worse is I can see what people were searching for when they found my poor blog.

And what was the most popular link clicked when viewing my post? The single link to the photos of the man’s face who was a victim of cannibalism, of course!

So what does this say about the readers of the internet and getting more readers? I not-so-surprising answer. Post about sex and violence and people will read. Oh, and just in case you were wondering. As of 9:30am I’ve already received 1000 page viewers on that same post…

The Irony of Death

My Mom called me about six times last night before I finally answered.  I wasn’t screening her calls I just left my cell phone on vibrate.  I didn’t notice she had been calling until she finally called my wife and left a voice message.

“Your Mom sounds really upset, you should call her.”

Normally I would wait until morning to call my Mom back, but if she is sounding really upset I call back immediately.  I’m just never sure if its an emergency or not.  I call my Mom back and she doesn’t sound that upset so I’m a little relieved.  I was dreading the thought of possibly having to drive an hour at midnight to handle a situation.

“Mom has breast cancer.” Mom in this case is Grandma.  She’s in her early 60′s and found out yesterday that she has early stages of malignant breast cancer.  Her sister, my great aunt, just passed away within the year from the same disease so I gather everyone is concerned.

What struck me wasn’t a feeling of dread about my Grandmother’s potential death, but a lack of empathy and a strong concern and realization about my own death.  That is horribly selfish I know, but I have always had a difficult time feeling well, what you are supposed to feel.  I was more concerned about my lack of raw emotion than concern for my Grandmother having breast cancer – that seems potentially narcissistic.

The other thing that bothered me was my own death.  I don’t dwell it, but occasionally I think how strange it is that one day I will have to face my own death.  I’m not sure how it will come and that is just as weird.

There will be a time where things happen on this earth and I will not be here to witness them.  I will be no more.  I will one day lay in a  hospital bed and count down my own passing.  Or I’ll die instantly in an accident – who knows.  It might be painful or it might be quick – but I will face death.  Strangely, there is some comfort in knowing that every single person on earth and every person who has ever been has and will experience the same thing.  That is one thing we all have in common in the human experience.

Thinking about my own death I thought about the things I would want.  I think I would want to know that people cared for me, that people were rooting for me, and to be prepared.  So I think its only right that I give my Grandmother that same respect.  To let her know I’m rooting for her, that I care for her, and to help her in any way possible to be prepared if it comes to the point where she does have to face death.

I will lie to her if needed.  I will pretend I care more than I do if I have to when the time comes.  I’ll even give in to her religious comforts when inevitably I find myself in a room full of people praying over her sick body.  I’ll even nod my head and put up no fight when people tell her she’s going to a better place, a magical place.  Why?  Because if religion makes her passing easier, provides her comfort, who am I to take that away in her last moments?

I’m being morbid.  They caught this early.  She’ll probably come out fine, but the rules about death still apply – or at least they will someday.  Death, I think it’s just a part of life.  You recognize it’s there, ignore it, prepare for it, hate it, but it’s a gift.  Death is the one thing holding you accountable for life – it’s your term limit – in a way it’s what makes you enjoy life the most. Maybe that’s the irony of death.