Monday, 27 May 2013

HOW TO COMFORT A DYING PERSON


A person, who is critically ill and has gone beyond all cures, is destined to die and leave the people around in a state of grief and depression. A somber atmosphere prevails, snuffing out the least feeling of joy and cheerfulness. The reality of death which is inevitable and imminent gives rise to a feeling of stealth, making it necessary to make a conversation in hushed voices. No one laughs and no one weeps, faces wearing blank looks. The patient lies on the bed, smelling of medicines and being emotional every now and then, intensifying a sense of helplessness that begins to get contagious. She sometimes turns on the other side, thinking about the way the parting should be accepted.  When he or she comes to know that he or she is suffering from a life threatening disease, the world of light and joy as it has been experienced in the presence of the nearest and the dearest ones suddenly becomes a gloomy one. The people who care for the patient and want to comfort him or her, try to assuage her feelings of gloom and depression as the days are numbered on earth. This is a period of extreme anguish posing the biggest challenge to the people who want to see the suffering soul have a little comfort but cannot come up with anything concrete in the atmosphere of sickness, heavy with treatment, medicines and the hopelessness of the person who is waiting to die. But when the suffering from a life threatening disease is prolonged, eating into the vitals of the person we care for and love from the bottom of our heart, we can bring a cheer and comfort to the person by the way we behave.
 In the first place, we have to cure the person of any morbid obsession with death saying that man no matter how healthy any one of us may be we are always exposed to the uncertainty of life as anything might happen to us anytime. The life that we celebrate in the atmosphere of joy and sunshine is not for an eternal lease and may turn gloomy at anytime, but if we break down that will amount to accepting defeat. There is no staying in the mortal abode of life forever but if we make too much fuss about it, we will have to be mocked at by the people who have already left, even though we loved them as much as they loved us. In life too there might be a shadow that looms over the brightness of the day in the same and regular pattern but it is only a question of getting started out on a journey that is waiting for all of us. One who goes to the battlefield for the first time to lead the first and intrepid battalion of soldiers or undertakes an adventure is considered to be a hero even if we have to mourn his death and if one is summoned by death as inevitable as life, why should the status of a hero not be accorded to him or her?
Instead of thinking of death as an end in itself as it has often been portrayed to one who is on the verge of death, we should confidently present it as a phase of the continuous journey of life and death like the continuous and automatic change of the day into the night only to melt away into the brightness of the day in the same way. Therefore one has to do a bit of psychological selling to buy the depression of the sick stuck in some sort of obsession with death, though it is not quite morbid justified as it is by the consistency of the disease. As the flow of life begins to be tardy, responding to the seriousness of the disease, the one who is teetering on the brink of life should be told about how he is going to lead the adventurous trek into the dark cavern of death to emerge with light.  It is futile or rather puerile to hide the question of death as the idea of death being ugly and revolting should be replaced by a mellow version of life sanctified by death. In this context one should remember what Helen Keller said about death ‘Going from one room to another.’
The more we tell the person poised to leave about the glory of the life fast receding, the more he or she would be nostalgic, becoming filled with anguish on account of a feeling of dissatisfaction and discontentment. We have to tell him about the life on the other side and try to endear it to him saying that he or she is going to be joined by us soon. She must be told about the uniqueness of being united with those who have already left and the responsibility to wait for others to follow. At the same time, the best care should be taken of the frail person with love and tenderness strictly according to the instructions of the doctor who seems to be the captain of a sinking ship, to try to let a smile hover about the face. An attempt should also be made to drive home the message that living death in a hurry is a sin and would not be approved by those who are already dead because it is only God who allows death to be a phase of transition before it is certified by the doctor.


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