This morning diagnosis from FIL's Dr is that he might last another week or two. Kidney function is minimal. FIL is dying in the way most of us might have thought would be the best way to go, naturally.
I was talking to MIL about it yesterday though. Between us, we are of the opinion that it ISN'T necessarily the best way to go. In fact, there may not be a best way.
FIL is 86, he's lived a long life, and mostly it's been a very peaceful, joyful life. He had a battle with bowel cancer three years ago, but won it. Before that he hadn't had any major illnesses that I'm aware of. So, basically, his body is doing it's natural thing, it's winding down. At first the wind down was slow, but in the past six months it has picked up speed. A bout of shingles gave the wind down a kick up the rear earlier this year.
FIL will get to die peacefully at home, which is a blessing to him.
When we saw him yesterday, I hadn't seen him since his birthday in January. He was drifting in and out of sleep, and only had a very small window of lucidity right at the end of our visit, or so I thought. His eyes were wide open, and I'd brought Ari in to say goodbye as we were about to leave (of course, for Ari and myself it was our last goodbye, but I wasn't dwelling on that at the time). He acknowledged us, so I leaned over the bed and kissed him, and then as I was standing upright again, he asked me to pass him a towel from the other side of the room. I couldn't see a towel, which I thought was just my lack of vision, so I fetched MIL to find it. MIL then ascertained that FIL had thought he was being seen to by one of the visiting nurses, he thought he'd just had a wash down and needed the towel to dry off. Oh dear, he was probably wondering why the nurse kissed him, hahaha!
But anyway, he was so diminished, and it was quite a shock to me. FIL has always been quite the "have-a-chat", and yesterday he was so very, very quiet, and what little he did say was almost completely incomprehensible as he mumbled it.
So, dying naturally, slowly, is no less painful than dying suddenly.
I've been thinking back on my grandad dying a lot these past few weeks. I wasn't there for much of it as I was away studying, but right at the end I went and stayed with the family as we sat by his bed. I was there when he went into a coma and there when he took his last breathe, it was peaceful, but nonetheless painful.
I also remember my uncle Paul dying, on his 26th birthday, in a motorbike accident. The death was sudden, horrific and very much unexpected...
My other grandfather also died suddenly, but it wasn't unexpected, in many ways, that might have been the easiest way of dying I've witnessed, and it still wasn't easy.
I just can't see that there is an easy, painless way to die.
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