A positive path for spiritual living

Being Mortal

Mon, 01/16/2023 - 9:18pm -- nleifer

Being Mortal
by Atul Gawande, A Book Review
Our in-person book group just finished this book, which was challenging, depressing, and vital to our soul’s journeys on this earth. I believe there was a lot of information in this book which is important for each of us in physical bodies to absorb and process and, most of all, put into practice.
Dr. Gawande uses stories from his own medical practice of dealing with people at the end of their lives. He understands that the idea of “being mortal” is one of the most challenging ideas any of us has to come to terms with. He also informs us that it’s not just us, the patients and the families that struggle with this, but it’s also doctors and the medical profession in general. We all have lived with the deep-held conviction that to die is to admit defeat, a ridiculous belief indeed, given the fact that we do all come to the end of life as we know it. Instead of “fighting to the bitter end,” he suggests that we instead plan to have the best possible ending, that we identify just what is most important to each of us, and strive to hang on to those things as long as possible. Then, when we have to relinquish these things and the end is inevitable, that we gracefully let go and accept that the end of journey is at hand. When medical knowledge has come to its limits, and there is only a painful, awkward struggle for a few more hours, or perhaps days at best, for us to have the dignity of saying for ourselves, “This is enough. I am ready.” This is the moment when we need to have let our families and loved ones, and our doctors, know that we don’t want any more hopeless interventions. That we have lived our lives to the best of our abilities, and that we have loved them and trust them to let us go in peace.
How do we do this? We must have conversations with everyone we are close to so that they are aware of just how much medical intervention we want. We need to have an advance directive outlining what medical treatments are acceptable to us, and what we are willing to live with or not. We need to have a will or estate plan as well as leaving instructions on what we want done with our bodily remains, what funeral or memorial ceremony, if any, and perhaps even have written our own obituary. As a person who has led several memorial services, even lists of what songs you want, who you want to speak, and if you want food or anything else. Just these simple instructions can ease the time of mourning for your loved ones who are struggling to know what to do.
Unfortunately, there are always people who will question your decisions, but when you have made these requests clear, hopefully in writing, your loved ones will have an idea of how much intervention you were willing to accept. They will be able to say definitively, “No, he/she didn’t want that! It says so right here!” There will still be grief, but there will also be gratitude that they were able to comply with what you really wanted. Let us all hope we can finish our journeys with such ease and grace.
Linda Andrus, your Licensed Unity Teacher
In Memorium
It is with a great deal of sadness that we announce the passing of Linda Lightfoot, on December 29, 2022. Linda had been singing in our Unity choir, and was planning to participate on Christmas Eve, but was unable to be with us. Her daughter Leslie was able to be present with her as she left this world and went on. There will be a memorial service later this spring or summer, when the family is able to come to Montana. We will let everyone know as soon as the date has been determined.