Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Why death should not be viewed as a taboo subject - Raymond A Fernando's press letter-to TODAY Newspaper

I support the Die Die Must Say campaign, which was launched to encourage people to talk about death (“Getai shows set to get seniors talking about end-of-life issues”; May 7).

Like mental illness, death is a subject people often feel uncomfortable discussing, although we will all come face to face with it some day. We could pay an emotional and financial price by being silent about death or dying.
I wish to share an experience of death and why being prepared is important. How could I predict that I would lose my wife after her immune system weakened badly?

We had fought the battle against schizophrenia, a condition she was diagnosed with, for 40 years, only to lose her to pneumonia within a week of hospitalisation. I still cannot believe or come to terms with this.

Having cared for her through all her six chronic illnesses for four decades, I had hoped that she would die in familiar surroundings: Our home. But the sudden attack of pneumonia, which requires professional care, did not make this possible.

The community, which includes journalists, the church, friends and even strangers, is walking alongside me during this most painful part of my life. Many came to the wake, showing love and unflagging support.

Love is wonderful, but it can also be painful when you lose the one you love dearly.

During the week she was in hospital, my wife went through much discomfort: Numerous blood tests, X-rays, oxygen and antibiotic insertions, tubes put in her nose and mouth as well as heart tests. Her chances of survival were slim. The doctors and nurses did their best to comfort and save her. When things took a turn for the worse, the medical team asked if I wanted her in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU), where they might have to bore a hole in her throat.

We had discussed this before: She had told me not to waste money on intensive care, but to let her go in peace when the time came. I did not want her to go through more discomfort, honoured what she told me and left her fate in God’s hands.

In a way, I was prepared, even though my wife, who was my whole world, left me so suddenly.
Having gone through this, I advise everyone to value his or her loved ones and to be unafraid to discuss the delicate subject of death with family members. You never know when you will lose them.


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