Let it be known that this is just my opinion. When it comes to death everyone is different and has their own views. Good on you. But this is what I want, not you.
I know, this is dark and it may make a lot of people uncomfortable. But, after going through some major medical issues over the past few years of my life I have had to put a lot of thought into my own death and how I would want to go. I am not going to sugar coat this issue, but I am going to try to be “death positive”(it’s a thing). So many of us are so far removed from death and it’s process that it seems so foreign and taboo to even talk about when it is just another natural and inevitable part of life. Spoiler alert! We all die. 100 years ago it wasn’t like this, people were around the body and involved in every step, and now we outsource everything and show up to view a plastic looking shell of a body for an hour before it’s sealed away and buried deep in a way too expensive casket. I think that this is something we all need to talk about and be more involved in.
I am not depressed or sad by the way, I’ve just had some time to think about this and realize that it is very important regardless of what people may think. Even sites dedicated to SUDEP (sudden unexpected death in epilepsy) dance around topics like having and preparing advanced directives, death is in the name at least address it directly. Even states have weird names like Life Care Planning, no it’s planning your death. The forms have wording that is very careful and gentle so as not to upset anyone.
Because I’ve had some days that were daunting and scary I’ve realized some things about myself that I otherwise would have never known before. I’ve spent days laying in bed and in pain and remember thinking about how horrible it was and how this is the last thing I would ever want. Pain and the despair that comes with it is a terrible way to spend time (just a thought). And thinking more along those lines, I now know that I would never under any circumstance want extreme actions to be taken in order to keep me alive should something tragic happen to me that is irreversible.
My biggest fear in life used to be a trivial fear of aliens (like the ones from signs), stupid. But now it’s being kept alive and in pain for the comfort of someone else hoping that I will suddenly come back. I don’t want a feeding tube, or extreme surgeries or kept alive on a respirator. If I can’t move or have autonomy over my own body, let me go I don’t want to be there. I have had a teeny tiny taste of what that is like and I can tell you that for me it was torture.
Some people will find it selfish and I understand why. You hear remarkable stories about people hanging on to the very end and having a meaningful moment that meant a lot to the family. Their last words being something memorable, and I can see how that helps give a family and friends closure and time to say goodbye. But, that is such a far cry from reality and so rare. The reality is they were in a lot of pain and probably hallucinating.
I’ve mentioned this before but going through the diagnosis of epilepsy is a trial. The MRIs, EMGs, crazy blood tests for cancers and scary terminal disease force you to confront that part of you that is afraid. And what you’re afraid of is death. After you get over that, the realities of what might happen set in. You may find family and friends telling you things to be supportive like “You’re strong, you can fight this, you’ll get through it no matter what“. It’s that no matter what that is scary. I don’t want to be lying in a hospital on the brink of death only to be tubed and shocked and ultimately in excruciating pain, just to hang on for a few more days or weeks or god forbid months in that condition. What happens in those circumstances, to me, is unacceptable. I’ve had a catheter before, don’t want that and definitely don’t want other people wiping my ass or tube feeding me, not being able to talk. Because in that circumstance I would tell them to back the f off and let me go.
I am a firm believer in quality over quantity in almost every aspect of my life (the exception are dogs) so if my quality of life has diminished significantly it is no longer worth living. There are three situations, granted they are fake and hopefully impossible, that worry me and would make me kill myself immediately. 1. Zombie apocalypse. I wont even entertain the thought of living in a world like that. And the crazy people(everyone else including my grandma-who would be running the show btw) who think the challenge would be worth it are insane. 2. If A Handmaid’s Tale came true. I read the book, and I have watched the series and in no way would I want to be apart of that. It gave me nightmares and made me not want to even touch my boyfriend for a day. 3. Humans somehow become immortal. Hell no people, that goes against nature and will end horribly. Why take the meaning out of life? Bleh.
So a goal of mine this year, I realize it’s a bit late in the year, is to properly make arrangements just in case something were to happen to me. I think it’s a responsibility that I need to take head on because I don’t want my family left wondering what my wishes would be, it’s not fair to anyone. I’ve has this conversation to some degree with my parents about what they would want, but very little and it’s not in writing. I would hope that they know me well enough to know what I would want, but you can’t expect grieving people to just know and follow through. People do weird shit when they’re sad or panicking.
After I am dead, I definitely don’t want a funeral or even a party (no “woo let’s celebrate life” crap, it’s a sad lie). I don’t want my body embalmed and propped up to view (ew) I’ve seen dead people it’s gross. Don’t view my dead body or preserve it, get rid of it. I find funerals excessive, expensive and mostly for people who are religious. My immediate family and I are not religious at all, so I don’t have to worry about them breaking my wishes in that case. Maybe I will donate it to science or just be cremated or even cremated in that new way alkaline hydrolysis (yay science, look it up it’s pretty cool) but I will not be embalmed or placed in an entirely too expensive box and buried. At that point you are littering and poisoning the earth with formaldehyde (caskets getting ruined happens quite a bit, where do you think the chemicals go in that case? Your ground water). Even in death I don’t want to pollute, I want my carbon footprint to have been as small as possible. No Viking burial either, as cool as it seems, no. And before you ask, yeah, you can be buried naturally and without being embalmed and painted or having them sew your mouth shut just to keep it closed for the sake of others. There are places that will keep you natural and put you in the ground without embalming or not so earth friendly caskets. I don’t want to be a pretty corpse. And by law, nobody can force that upon you. It may be difficult because the funeral industry is huge on that “traditional” burial. It would be my one last middle finger to the man to avoid that route entirely.
Everybody should have control over how they go. Wether you want every action taken to keep you alive or you want to be euthanized, go for it. But know your options, and don’t do anything you don’t want.
The last thing I would ever want is to wind up in an ICU being kept alive mechanically. Make me comfortable and preferably high and let me go and donate my organs of course. I don’t plan on dying anytime soon, but I think as humans who die we should be partly involved in the planning of our eventual or accidental deaths and understand what happens. It’s a responsibility, not something to dodge until the last-minute.