Last August I did a post on the song I Will Follow You Into the Dark by Death Cab for Cutie and as you can see from the comments, the post has really stuck a chord with people who have faced end of life issues with family members. I am actually quite humbled that people have sought out this site and commented in their time of sorrow and loss. Now my family is going through the painful process of saying goodbye to someone who is in a coma. What is especially difficult is that on the 4th of July we are all together having blast, talking about fireworks, boats, and kids. A few hours later a heart attack leaves my brother-in-law in what is described as a βpermanent vegetative state.β?
Modern medicine is amazing these days, as is our medical profession. The EMTβs found my brother-in-law without a pulse and were able to re-start his heart. Unfortunately the body needs oxygen and his body shut down all functions except for the bare minimum to survive: breathing and a beating heart.
When to end a life is an extremely painful decision. In one sense you want to hold out hope, but on the other, no brain activity is not really living. In the end it comes down to what you and your loved ones believe is quality of life. What makes it harder is that there are different levels of removing life support: Do you hydrate? How much pain medication should be administered? Given these questions, and the ultimate decision that must be made, itβs actually comforting to think that you would follow your loved one into the dark. The wish that you could tell them that very fact lies heavy in the room.
So talk to your loved one about end of life issues, get a will, write up a health directive. Tell them you if you could, you would follow them into the dark. Remember it will be difficult for your family members if they find themselves in the situation where they have to make end of life decisions, but it will be easier if they know that the decisions they have to make are ones that you have allowed them to make. In other words, allow your loved ones to follow you into the dark.