Written on 10th of July 2010 @ 0211hrs

“Maybe their role in life now is make US do something for them…”

It would be a humongous loss if one cares for patients at the end of life and never learn about life itself. It takes a lot of knowledge, wisdom and intuition when it comes to decision making in these patients, either for the medical practitioner, or for the patient and family members. A lot of deep thinking and, yes – as short a time as they have – a clear view of what the future might offer to them.

We were talking about suicide, euthanasia and the meaning of life this afternoon during lunch time.

One would wonder what does it take for a person to carry on living and fighting. What does it take for a person to get up and do what he needs to do, when his energy doesn’t really permit him to do all that. Why some people keep on fighting and carrying on, some just fade away, and some even decided to end their lives by committing suicide.

We came to the same thought – what one means to the people around him.

Like a man with a Duke’s C colon cancer – which may still be treatable with chemotherapy and surgery.

1. If he’s an old man, with a lot of other problems (diabetes, hypertension, heart problems), children all grown up and wife is well enough to look after him, has tens of grandchildren, he might decide to do nothing about the cancer, and deal with whatever problems that will come, one day at a time. He might feel that he has done his part in the world, and would feel like it’s easy for him to let go of his life, albeit slowly. His life has been filled with a lot of love and all in all it’s a meaningful life.

2. If he’s a young man in his 30s, young family, children are still in primary school, and he’s otherwise well, he’d want to go all out to survive this cancer (which he might actually do). He’d be someone who’d fight until the end, even when, at one point, he knows that he’s going to lose the battle.
Because he has a meaningful life, something to fight for, something worth living for.

3. If he’s middle aged and single, both parents passed away, living alone – would he surprise anyone if he doesn’t want any treatment, although he’s very fit for it? Coax him, talk to him – he might just say no. Someone said to us, “What do I have to live for?” Which is true enough – he doesn’t have anyone to come home to, no one to care for, and no one to care for him. Well, we will always talk him into the treatment, but if he decided to not do anything about the cancer, he has his own good reasons. And we need to respect that.

That’s why when a person who is so ill, he’d feel “function-less”, he’d feel like there is no point of living because he can’t offer anyone around him anything at all. “Might as well just die.” Apparently Hitler used to have this “Death Clinic” in which the doctors see old people who may not contribute to the country, and decide whether or not they should perform “euthanasia” for these old folks. *

Because human beings, deep inside, need to give. As shallow as a person might be, as selfish as a person could be – he needs to give. And share. The more one gives, the more meaningful his life will be.

Which came to the question my boss prompted, “Every human beings have the right to live, no matter how they might think that they have nothing to live for, nothing to give to others. But what is a role of an ill person? Why are they here?”

One wonders. Very spiritual. Very deep. He answered his own question.

“Maybe their role in life at this point, is so that WE could do something for them. Their role in life as a sick person is for us to contribute to their lives. Maybe they are here to enable us to help them.”

Have you ever felt spiritually fulfilled that you have, selflessly, helped another person?

You know, these ill patients may well have helped us fill our empty hearts. Touched the bottom of our hearts.

In simple words, helping and sharing is good for our soul.


*This is what my boss has talked about before, I haven’t gotten myself to read for further details – it’s too gory and morbid that I have decided that my heart is just not prepared for such information.