Thoughts on dying/death

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!).

  • I think you should feel free to talk about it. I think if there is a good chance a cure for any terminal illness could work and maintain quality of life though, it is worth going for. If cancer is caught in the early stages it can be cured.  If I got TB or plague I'd want those antibiotics right now! 

    But if there is no chance of living well afterwards.......

    My mother used to joke about preferring a bullet to ending up completely gaga. She now has vascular dementia. She has just had another fall, broken Femur. They are fixing it. She is being kept alive.....but she used to say too that she thought in many cases, it might actually be kinder to allow someone who is at "end game's stage to die rather than remaining imprisoned by body as well as mind that no longer works.

    On the other hand, if she is still gaining pleasure from some things....who knpws. There is a famous academic figure of 104 in the news just recently who is flying out to Switzerland to make his final exit legally.....

  • I think if there is a good chance a cure for any terminal illness could work and maintain quality of life though, it is worth going for.

    I agree with this idea in principle, but then I think my views start to differ from others when deciding what a good quality of life is. For example, you mention being cured of cancer and whilst I agree the treatment is very worthwhile for many people, I would personally refuse treatment for cancer as I consider the damage it does to your body to outweigh the benefits (i.e. remaining alive). Perhaps my views here are clouded by the fact my own father has survived cancer, but now cannot eat properly ever again and suffers many other side effects from the treatment. He himself said if the cancer came back he wouldn’t have chemotherapy again.

    I find that I very much weigh risk and reward with any treatment, and due to risks I often say no as I’d rather die healthy than live poorly. However for most people I meet, remaining alive is their top priority, and as such they will suffer any treatment and all of the relevant side effects to achieve this. This is why when I express my viewpoint they often just cannot comprehend it at all, as we have very differing priorities.

    Sorry to hear about your mother’s fall. It is vascular dementia my grandma has also. Her short-term memory is atrocious and that is why she was no longer able to cope at home, but her long-term memory is still very good and she knows what she wants. It’s hard to watch her suffer when her quality of life has gone and she just wants to die, and I empathise greatly with her opinion.

  • We need to find ways to understand and therefore cope with death better. 

    Absolutely, and I think that starts with talking more openly about it.

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