Often when I speak to medical professionals about my views on death they are very surprised and exclaim ‘you are very black and white about that.’ I realise my views on the subject differ to that of many other people, and they have done since I was a young child. I don’t know if this is partly due to my autism, or just my own weird take on things, so I thought I’d ask on here what other people’s views on death/dying are. To give you a flavour of my views, here are some of my comments on the matter:
I think that we all die so we should get used to the idea sooner rather than later and that’s it’s not worth worrying about as it is inevitable. I wouldn’t care if I died tomorrow. Further, if I was to fall terminally ill I would refuse treatment as I believe in letting nature take it’s course - after all, natural selection has worked well for thousands of years, so why mess with it? If I died prematurely due to illness I would just see it that this was meant to be. This is why, despite being in my early 20s, I have already requested a do not resuscitate to be in place (also, I kind of view CPR as a form of physical assault - having seen it done to others, I certainly wouldn’t want it done to me!) and I said I wouldn’t want a blood transfusion when I had surgery. Don’t get me wrong, I am not one to refuse all medical input and I am very thankful for some of it, but I do draw a distinct line between what I consider acceptable and not.
My grandma is currently in a nursing home with dementia. She literally asked my mum and me to smother her, and she just wants to die because she is no longer able to live at home and do what she enjoyed. The home said she was depressed and tried to medicate her for it. They gave her a medication they new would increase her appetite as she was refusing food. I ended up arguing with them over it, explaining that my grandma wasn’t mentally ill - her thinking was perfectly logical and if I was in her position I would feel the same way. My grandma is very like me, and is very pragmatic about death also, and she hid the tablets rather than taking them, so that demonstrates what she thought about it! Maybe I was wrong to argue with the home, but I honestly couldn’t understand why they were trying to get her to feel different and eat more, as this would only prolong her suffering (aka life) and she just wanted to die! I think that keeping people alive at all cost is truly immoral and if they didn’t ask for it personally, it is selfish of those who did.
Disclaimer: I don’t mean to offend anyone with my views, and I certainly don’t expect others to comply with them. I respect everyone’s views and I know this is a difficult subject for some. I’m just wondering if anyone else thinks like me about death, or if I’m being obscure on my own here! Some may put it down to my current depression, but as mentioned I’ve thought like this from a very young age, so it appears intrinsic (maybe inherited from my grandma!).
Personally, I fear the physical process of death. Scientifically, I believe there is good evidence to suggest that, like in a dream, time drags out in those final moments and seconds seem like hours. If that's true I find it very upsetting. I can think of many scenarios where the brain may not die until the body has given up, and worry a lot about being conscious of pain or death for what might seem like hours before it all ends. Even if it's only seconds in reality.
I try to counter this by remembering that it does, indeed, end. It won't last forever, that awareness, so I will get peace and calm eventually.
From an emotional point of view, I don't fear death itself at this stage. To me, the important thing is to go into death knowing that you did the best with your life that you were able to, and that you maximised your happiness. I make that my life goal and at this stage it's achieved. I have a daughter that I love more than anything, and I get to spend so much time with her, so I know that I could go to death today feeling like I'd lived life exactly as I want to.
I don't want to die yet of course. I want many more years with my daughter. I want to see her grow up, and be there for her.
One day, when I'm old (if I make it there) and she's grown and moved out, I imagine there will come a time when I'm mentally and physically tired and have been through so much that I will welcome the eternal rest.
I do believe that it should be not be a subject we above, though. My girl is 3 and we've talked about death before. She knows that I will die eventually. She knows that when I die, she should always remember that she made me infinitely happy and as a result I've died in the best possible state of mind. That I lived my life well, have no regrets and that she should never feel like there was a hole I didn't have time to fill. I'd rather make talk of death natural for her so that it is never something to avoid or be afraid of. I believe when we fear death, or consider it inherently bad, we don't have those important discussion enough - and as a result we've ended up in situations where assisted dying isn't legal and we can't be sensible about the fact that many people reach a point where they are ready to die and should be able to.
I know I'd want to go when I felt ready. No easier way to pass than when you feel at ease with it.
Blade said:Personally, I fear the physical process of death. Scientifically, I believe there is good evidence to suggest that, like in a dream, time drags out in those final moments and seconds seem like hours. If that's true I find it very upsetting.
Indeed, that doesn’t sound very pleasant at all, but from all of the near death experiences I have ever read, people usually describe it as a pleasant experience. For example, I know someone who has been resuscitated many times due to respiratory arrest and has had an out of body experience, and this has all actually led her to not fear death at all. I realise many people do not believe in those experiences, but still, what’s wrong about thinking of death as a pleasant experience if we can think of it as a negative one?
I think it’s great that you’ve already discussed death with your young daughter. There’s no reason for it to be a taboo subject and as you say there is nothing wrong with talking about it, so children should be able to experience that (and ask the wonderful questions they so often do).