Why this emotional fitness topic?
The Jewish High Holidays focus on whether we will be written in the book of life for another years. We spend the week thinking about what merits our continued life in this world.
I want to live as long as possible. I love life. I am amazed at all I have been given. I have been hoisted onto the shoulders of giants and gained from their wisdom. I have lived with my feet on solid, muddy ground, and often been stuck dead in the water thinking I would be pulled under to whatever world waits when this one is through with us.
I want to be written in to the Book of Life. Most of the people flocking to Jewish High Holiday Services want the same. But I also want the Right to Die. That is against what the Rabbis and sages of most other religions teach.
My argument for the Right to Die stems from my years as a medical social worker. My first professional job was as a medical social worker in the Mary Fletcher Hospital in Burlington, Vermont. Two assignments shaped my desire to control my death. One assignment was on the Neurosurgical Unit. Being in Vermont meant that unit was very busy in the winter when a number of skiers crashed into trees or took a twisting fall that injured their spines. The second assignment was to the Radiology Service, not to worry about broken bones but to be there for those under-going radiation treatment for the Big C.
I was young then and healthy and thought little about dying. I needed educating. I am grateful for their years. I learned that some faced death as Dylan Thomas commanded:
Do not go gentle into that good night,
Old age should burn and rave at close of day;
Rage, rage against the dying of the light.
While others did not fight, but like the Old Man described by the lesser known poet, Laurence Jaeger took a quieter path.
As when a child,
The unfolding blossom
Of each day
With reverencing awe.
Intent to taste,
To smell, to touch,
To feel the throb of life.
Wrapped warm in trust
while the night chills
And put out the light.
Not at all sure which path I will pursue, but I know with all my heart I do not want to end my days in an intensive care unit or worse in the nursing home bed not able to speak or tend to my own needs.
I am of the decided opinion that with the wonderful advances of modern medicine has come the sad ability to prolong death, and so I advocate for the Right to Die.
Emotional fitness tips
This is such a personal subject we must all find our own path. Some of us will not want to think or plan. I could not do that, too great a need for control, and seeing too many dead kept alive. So I have prepared my advanced directives, arranged my funeral, told my children my wishes. and explored the choices I have under today’s laws.
For those of you who wish to do the same, Compassion and Choices Webpage is probably the best place to start. This group is the transformation of the old Hemlock Society and will help you think through your options if that is what you wish.
Meanwhile, in the sprite of the High Holidays may you all be written into the Book of Life and may you be given peace now and in all the days to come.
Life is a struggle, full of pain and suffering, and death levels us all. Life is also full of wonder, sweetness, joy and goodness. Life is kindest to us when we share and care.
Liking, commenting, sharing are acts of social media kindness. So if you found this post helpful, do any of the above. I promise your kindness is always repaid.
Disclaimer one: Emotional Fitness Training is not therapy
Even the most learned researchers and therapists quarrel about much. Take their advice and mine carefully. Don’t just listen to your heart, but also think; don’t just think, listen to your heart. Heart and head working together increase the odds you will find useful advice amid all the promises and hopes pushed at you be others. As others have noted, take what seems useful, leave the rest.
Disclaimer two: Forgive my grammatical errors
If you need perfect posts, you will not find them here; I will understand if you don’t follow, like or share what like me. Not only am I dealing with an aging brain, but all of my life I have been plagued by dysgraphia–a learning disability, Some of my posts might be peppered with bad spelling, poor punctuation, and worse words that make no sense. If you want to hang in with me, thank you; you are kind. If a post doesn’t make sense or bugs you too much, try reading it a few days later. Often I catch the worse mistakes when I read the post after a few days.