After several years of trying chemo and radiation to check her cancer Rebecca decided to die with dignity. She consulted with her family and some close friends and then contacted the nearest hospice. Whatever ‘tough conversation’ there might have been was brief, open, and honest. How could anyone object to her decision after all the various treatments that Rebecca had undergone?
Everyone was in the loop. Family, close friends, some neighbors and a few former colleagues. When Rebecca became so weak that she could no longer eat or take care of herself, we all knew it was time. I recall Rebecca’s last cognitive act was to view a DVD of her grandson performing in a piano recital. Then she rested grateful for having viewed her grandson’s artistic triumph.
For the 3 or 4 weeks while she rested, a constant stream of family, friends and neighbors visited with Rebecca. She lay in her furnished basement apartment. Soft music penetrated the space. A scented candle burned. Each visitor brought his or her own special treatment ‘modality.’ Some sang, others massaged her limbs, a few talked quietly reminiscing about happier times they had spent together.
What was so impressive was the solace that pervaded the room. Except for the early hours of each day Rebecca was never alone.
When she died, everyone was at peace…with her and with themselves. We felt sad but not depressed. I learned that her last breaths were labored and short. Then nothing. We all shared a part in Rebecca’s passing. She gave us a bond that we will never forget.
Our gratitude to Rebecca is boundless. She allowed us to take part in her vigil of peace.
(c)Beyond Dispute Associates 2011
Gloria Keeney says
A simple story really but so lovely. Most of us wish to be at home during our final days. What a gift to have family and friends respect Rebecca’s wishes. Hopefully she was not in the position of having to rigorously defend her choices. Those who loved her respected her wishes to remain at home and came to her bedside when she needed them the most. I have to guess that some of her visitors were not comfortable in being there but came just the same out of love. She gave that gift of saying just how she wanted to be treated. Let’s all try and do the same. Have the talk today to express how you want to be treated at the end of your life. It’s a gift to all who love you. You will spare them the guessing game and bring them peace.
E. J. Williams says
A Much needed look into an alternative way to do what must be done. I pray that those who have the opportunity to read this story will glean something from it, as in everybody has a right to fight as long as they feel to and then to decide when they have fought as much as they can, especially in this age of serious illnesses. Being able to make that decision for one’s self (instead of a hospital staff deciding when, who and how) kinda’ brings a special dignity to the surface of life. It gave those close to her their own time, space and way to be a part of her transition which I’m sure was indeed a blessing to them as well. thanks for sharing something so intimate and meaningful …