I am mostly curious about the domestic life of the patients I met at Palliative Care or the period they stay at the hospital before palliative care as home is their own environment whereas the hospital is the one still loaded with hope. However, is Palliative Care like this? This place belongs to neither them nor me. If I were to assign an ownership, I would say a place under the domination of “dying thing”.
We have some habits like making death disguised, tempering it, adding words to it to talk about it. In this sense, Palliative Care is quite confusing. The environment doesn’t look like a hospital, i.e. there is no intense hospital smell or you don’t see nurses and doctors running around though death is so near there. Therefore, some concepts you associate with death in your mind previously are of no help.
In Palliative Care dying thing is dominant. Our two big assistants we get help from while talking about death lose their meanings. The first one is hope and the second one is life after death as people are dying; right now, on the spot.
Dear Oruç Aruoba wrote this:
“Every person lives with their death as well
Death, too, lives with every person
Death lives with the person.”
Dying thing. I have two visual responses for these two words. What I am talking about is our bringing the subject quickly to the continuity of the soul’s journey when we start to talk about death, the dying thing’s clouding itself and, in fact, when it is time for us to face this dying thing, it’s causing us to say goodbye to the world and/or to our beloved ones sorrowfully.
Please do not run away now or if you cannot get a clear view of what I have told you about, do not give way to despair. Perhaps you are in a space you have never been before or even if you have met death before, you have not stopped to think about these aspects of it. Believe me, you need to be able to slow down to hear what I am trying to express. Besides, what I am doing is not to provide information about death. There are already many doing this. We have the habit of gathering a lot of information, but not heading towards the way it points at. I can even say that when it comes to death, we put extra effort into keeping it in a cognitive domain.
Dying thing is about realizing that death is a living thing. As Aruoba notes, death lives with the person. It is a reality that cannot be isolated from who you are. It is alive and it exists in an inner space where conceptual information is transcended. In its most plain state, it is keeping the truth that you and your beloved ones will die close to your heart. This does not mean that while you are doing your routine work in your daily life, you need to repeat that you will die. Instead, it means being aware of the living space in the background. It is while dealing with your work in the foreground, grasping the reality you carry in the background and the reality which lives with you. Forgetting about death is getting lost in your life while living in it.
A father, in his 40s, is a cancer patient. There is no hope of treatment anymore. He spends his last days in Palliative Care. He has two daughters, aged 10 and 8. The father does not want his daughters to come to the Palliative Care. In the mornings, they do video chats for 10 minutes. The girls beg him to visit him. The father refuses. When I ask him the reason, he says “I don’t want them to see me like this”. The father dies without his daughters around.
What did you think about when you read this short story? I have been thinking about it since I met this patient. It has been quite a while since he died. His daughters did not visit him on his own accord.
A woman, in her 50s, is diagnosed with cancer. She collapses when she hears the news. Death is so unfamiliar to her. She doesn’t know how to approach it. What she views natural is not death, but not to die. She spends her last one-year left being treated with the hope of extending her life span. The treatments extend her life for two years more, but she needs to spend most of it in the hospital. She dies in hospital.
The father’s story is a real one and so is the woman’s. In my imagination, this woman is the daughter of the father who is 8 years old at that time.
Why not? Are those women the children of these fathers or are these men the children of those women?
Have we ever thought about what will forgetting about death, avoiding the fact that we are dying even if we have a close brush with death or having the illusion of protecting our beloved ones from death do both to us and to the next generations whose ancestors we will be?
In a different scenario, I envisage the father again. The father wants his daughters around in his last days. He sets an example of the truth with his own life that death is a natural part of life. He says “I am dying and my being so doesn’t change the fact that I love you so much” by looking into their eyes. They get sad together. They laugh together. The girls are with their father in his last breath.
A woman, in her 50s, is diagnosed with cancer. She collapses when she hears the news. However, death is not unfamiliar to her. Much as she is afraid of death, and she gets saddened, she knows how to approach death with these feelings as her father taught her at the time. She knows how to “die wisely”. Death is natural and part of life. She doesn’t feel an obligation to get treatment 100%. She wants to decide pondering and no matter what her decision is, she knows that she will give priority to life being able to say she is dying.
The thing called ‘’dying’’ really exists and if you grasp the severity and the effects of it, it transforms you into an artist; a life artist. Life artists are always aware of the living space in the background, and they take their decisions in the light of this awareness. They also establish their priorities in the consciousness of the existence of this space. I advise you to spend more time with such a person if there is one around you. If not, think about what you need to set an example in this respect to your children, for as Oruç Aruoba notes “ the only thing life can tell you explicitly is death”*.
Yazının Türkçe versiyonu: Yaşamın açıkça söyleyebileceği tek şey*