Why is it so heroic to battle death at the end of a long life?

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Maggie, CM -- so well said.
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I expect my obituary to read "…panicking, after a swift and cowardly surrender to illness. Nevertheless missed by her exasperated children, family and friends."

But that's just me. I haven't yet had to shepherd anyone else to the door. I expect the only thing I would object to would be any third parties - like Maggie's nephew - making barmy suggestions or motivational speeches that appeared to be at odds with whatever might come naturally to the dying person.

Maggie, you'd like the exchange in Lionel Shriver's novel where the doctor chirps up "we bought her a good six months." And the husband points out that there was nothing good about them.

But as far ahead as I can see, surely it has to be up the principal player. If he or she wants faith healers, experimental treatments, innumerable attempts at CPR then the best of luck to him and, I suppose, you never know. Where there's life there's hope, and all that. Equally, it worries me that we're so bad, as a society, at allowing people to say when they've had enough.

Once the patient is past the point of decision-making, though, it's a different matter. A soft landing is the best you can aim for when you're acting for another person.
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Yeah, I wonder that, too. My husband had a terminal illness, was on heavy pain meds, so I made his medical decisions for him after a certain point. His nephew (a doctor) called me to try to convince me to continue treatments (chemo) on him. "Let him fight!!" I remember him saying. (The chemo wasn't a cure, nor was it a pain reliever.)

If we hadn't been talking on the phone, I might have slapped him. Fight?? For what?? An opportunity to puke in a toilet bowl for a few months?

There's nothing heroic about it. The real heroes search for peace of mind and acceptance.
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