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NOTE: For a complete list of articles related to this chapter... Visit the Main Index FOR this section.
Death Without Fear
Article ID: 10269
Age Group: Adult
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Author: Lady Abigail [a WitchVox Sponsor]
Posted: September 24th. 2006
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I have noticed that many people find death as something of which they are afraid. A lot of people feel somehow uncomfortable even discussing the idea of death or dying. I believe they really don’t understand that death is only a small part of the grand cycle.
In the existence of this life, some of us must face the issue and possibility of an early death. We could be injured in a terrible car accident or slip and fall in the bathtub. We could have a heart attack, become ill, or have a doctor tell us she found something dreadful during a normal check up. It would not make a difference. It would be before whatever time we would like to think of as, “our time to go.”
When any of us are faced with the conceivability of dying, we think of what our choices might be. Everyone plans to live, be cured of what ever the fatal disease might be, recover and survive with enhanced awareness of life. But what if other choices had to be made? What would you want done? How far would you want others to go? When would you say, enough is enough? What if you couldn’t?
Recent events in the news have brought on many discussions and debates regarding the right to life and the right to die with dignity. Everyone seems to have a side. But, no matter what the discussion is, neither side will really win.
Too many people are moving through life with death as its finality, believing that death is actually the culmination of life. You live and you die, with nothing more. In some religions, if you are good or ‘perfect, ’ you get a heavenly reward. If not, then a torturous eternity.
I agree that death is the culmination of this life, but it is so much more than that. Death is only another part of life. I am not saying death is something to seek because you’re tired of life. That would be wasting life; life is a treasured gift which must be cherished. Believe me, if you were told you could die and must fight to survive, you would fight harder than you ever thought you could.
But death need not be feared. It is only a small part of the elements in the cycle of existence: Birth; Life; Death, and; Rebirth, time and time again, through eternity and on. Death which comes to a life lived well cannot bring anguish to the spirit. The idea that people believe they are going to be on spiritual trial for their eternal souls is so incredibly sad to me. No wonder they fear the concept of death, and life, too, for that matter.
I think many people exist in fear because they have trouble seeing outside human reality. Everything we learn, since our first concept of thought, has had a beginning and end. An hour begins and ends, the day begins and ends, seasons begin and end. Life begins and ends. But what about our spirits, which we vessel within the mortal existence of these frail bodies of flesh and bone?
We live within boundaries of this way of life. Sometimes, we let these boundaries rule our thoughts. But just because we have to live this life within the time set by the universe, that does not change the fact that we shall always, and have always, existed. When once we have an understanding that we are, then we can live and enjoy life as it was intended. Then, in the time set by the fates, die with no fear of retribution or punishment.
However, we must live and behave properly. Each life we have lived is patterned from those in our past. Our experiences in each life are different and only a very few remember even the tiniest of parts. But, like the experiences in our present lives, we are changed by them. We are formed by the choices we make; our fundamental humanity is recreating the possibilities we live over and over.
Life and Death Choices
Dying, for most Americans, is no longer a natural event, something that simply happens to us. In the majority of cases, people die in hospitals where physicians and nurses make a valiant effort to keep patients alive until there is no reasonable chance of recovery, often using the latest medical technologies.
In the course of those efforts, pain, suffering, and the wishes of patients and their families are often overlooked as physicians juggle medical, legal, moral, and economic considerations. In most cases, medical professionals have considerable discretion in deciding when additional efforts to sustain life are futile and a patient should be allowed to die.
Court rulings have firmly established a patient's legal right to discontinue life-sustaining treatment, such as respirators or artificial nutrition. What is unresolved is whether individuals should have the right to enlist the assistance of physicians to hasten their deaths and whether it is morally acceptable for physicians to do so.
The right-to-die debate raises fundamental questions.
Is euthanasia -- the supposedly merciful killing of the terminally ill -- an act of kindness prompted by a sense of mercy and respect for an individual's wishes? Or is it an act of murder and a violation of the Hippocratic Oath?
If legally recognized, would physician-assisted suicide permit dying people a measure of control over the timing and manner of their death? Or would it lead to a slippery slope of neglect for the old, the poor, and those who are emotionally distraught or seriously ill? Would the right to die become the duty to die when living would be too painful and costly for patients and their survivors? Would recognizing the right to a physician's assistance bring us closer to the ideal of a good death? Or should we pay more attention to pain management and palliative care?
Death \ - 1. The cessation of all vital phenomena without capability of resuscitation, either in animals or plants. - 2. Total privation or loss; extinction; cessation; as, the death of memory. - 3. Manner of dying; act or state of passing from life.
Generally, death is considered in two forms: death of the body as a whole (somatic or systemic death) , and death of the tissues. By the former is implied the absolute cessation of the functions of the brain, the circulatory, and the respiratory organs; by the latter, the entire disappearance of the vital actions of the ultimate structural constituents of the body.
Life \ 1. The state of being which begins with conception, birth, or germination, and ends with death; also, the time during which this state continues; that state of an animal or plant in which all or any of its organs are capable of performing all or any of their functions; -- used of all animal and vegetable organisms. - 2. Of human beings: The union of the soul and body; also, the duration of their union; sometimes, the deathless quality or existence of the soul; as, man is a creature having an immortal life. - 3. The potential principle, or force, by which the organs of animals and plants are started and continued in the performance of their several and cooperative functions; the vital force, whether regarded as physical or spiritual.
I am not giving my opinion here on what is right or wrong. I am, hopefully, giving you something to consider What choices do you want made for you if you are not able to make them for yourself? These are hard things to decide and I know you may not want to think about them. But, if you think it is a hard choice to make today, for yourself, while you are healthy and clear-minded, how hard will it be for your family members who may not know what you want them to do? Please consider a Living Will.
Living Will - As competent adults, we have the right to make decisions, in advance, as to whether, or not, we would like to decline life-support when it is clear that death is imminent, or a state of coma becomes permanent. Today, life-support systems can keep an individual's body alive for years, even if the brain is no longer functioning or the person is in constant pain.
A Living Will is a document which lets you decide whether or not to be kept on artificial life support You appoint an individual to direct your health care decisions, should you be unable to do so (e.g. ‘Power of Attorney for Health Care’) . Also, you can identify specific directives regarding the course of treatment that is to be taken by caregivers. In particular, forbidding treatment and, in some cases, nutrition and water, should you be unable to give Informed consent (‘Individual Health Care Instruction’) due to incapacity.
Often, these documents also appoint someone to make important health care decisions on your behalf in case you are unable to do so.
As the name suggests, the ‘Living Will’ tends to emphasize the wish to live as long as possible, rather than refusing treatment in the case of serious conditions.
Blessings and Health,
High Priestess, Ravensgrove Coven
Copyright © 08212005
Copyright: Copyright © 08212005
High Priestess, Ravensgrove Coven
Location: Greenfield, Indiana
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