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Sun Jan 13, 2019, 03:17 PM

What my father's death taught me about 'Being Mortal' - Kevin O'Connor

https://vtdigger.org/2019/01/13/fathers-death-taught-mortal/

Having been a fan of Atul Gawande's books and viewpoints on life, medicine, and dying, I thought this piece was very good.

This was supposed to be a simple story about Atul Gawande — a New England surgeon turned author of the nationally best-selling book “Being Mortal” — born of an unexpected meeting in the fall of 2017.

“The conversation I felt like I was having was, do we fight, or do we give up?” I heard him say on public radio the weekend before. “And the reality was that it’s not do we fight, or do we give up? It’s what are we fighting for? People have priorities, besides just surviving no matter what. You have reasons you want to be alive. What are those reasons?”

Then my father was diagnosed with fast-spreading cancer and died soon after, turning this into something personal.

Most people don’t want to think, let alone talk, about mortality, starting with health care providers who often view saving lives as the only measure of success. That’s why Gawande — believing physicians and patients need to acknowledge and address reality — wrote “Being Mortal: Medicine and What Matters in the End.”

...

“Accepting that life can be shorter than we want is very difficult,” Gawande concludes. “It’s easy for all of us, patients and doctors, to fall back on looking for what more we can do, regardless of what we might be sacrificing along the way. You know, people have priorities besides just living longer. You’ve got to ask what those priorities are.”

For in the end, “Being Mortal” isn’t about how to die, but how to live.

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Reply What my father's death taught me about 'Being Mortal' - Kevin O'Connor (Original post)
erronis Jan 2019 OP
FirstLight Jan 2019 #1
vlyons Jan 2019 #2
erronis Jan 2019 #3

Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2019, 03:27 PM

1. very powerful

My folks are in their last decade, maybe less, could happen out of the blue this year...

My sister and I are not close, but will have to get through this together. Lots to discuss BEFORE the SHTF, we just had a big run-in with mom at the hospital just 2 weeks ago.

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Response to erronis (Original post)

Sun Jan 13, 2019, 03:36 PM

2. As a Buddhist, I do not fear death

But I do fear the physical pain and debilitation of old age. I'm 71 with heart problems. I recently did a retreat on the Buddhist teachings about what happens in the death process. I don't know what, if anything, continues after the death of the body, but I'm open to the possibility that my mind stream continues. Buddhism teaches that when we die, the only thing that we take with us is our mind. All compound things are impermanent. Life is a continuous stream of unfolding, becoming, death, and dissipation. Indeed each moment dies and becomes the next moment. Each phase of life merges into whatever comes next. And because things are not eternal, change is constantly occurring. We humans, through the power of our mind, aspirations, and perseverance shape our future.

The Buddhist teaching is that when we die, the only thing that we take with us is our mind. That's why today, in this life, we practice training the mind in love and compassion, rather than the negative mental habits of anger, greed, and self-cherishing.

As a Mahayana Buddhist, we want to come back as a human and work for the liberation of all sentient beings. Besides, it's always now. My prayer is:

When all appearances of this life disappear,
May I with ease and great happiness
Let go of all attachments to this life.
Like a child returning home.

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Response to vlyons (Reply #2)

Sun Jan 13, 2019, 03:46 PM

3. That's beautiful, vylons. Thank you.

I'm not religious but I do respect some (Buddhism among them) and enjoy the thoughtfulness and wisdom that comes from centuries of discussions and group experiences.

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