Desmond Tutu calls for a "mind shift" on the right to die

Update, same morning: And see this, just in from my sister Kathy: Diane Rehm — “My Husband’s Slow Deliberate Death was Unnecessary,” remarkable for being featured on NBC News. Her husband died June 23rd, suffering from advanced Parkinson’s. The doctor refused to help him die because it was illegal in the state they lived in. So he left by refusing food and water, with tiny drips of morphine. It took nine days.

Archbishop Desmond TutuEver on the alert for new material that might show a shift in our culture re: the absurd and total denial of DEATH except in video games and other simulated or real war-like behavior; inside this freaked-out, distraction seeking culture where death is NOT considered a part of the life cycle — hear me? life should go on and on, from beginning, to . . . to . . . well, to some kind of end that is so far in the linear future that I don’t need to think about it now, and when it looms, I’ll just push it even further out — I came cross these two articles, in theguardian, today, re: Desmond Tutu. Interesting. His tone is mild, but revolutionary, in the sense of asking us to consider revolving back to an aboriginal understanding of the life/growth/prime/dying/death cycle that, let’s face it, is built in to the way Nature works. She too, revolves. She grows up new stuff, and she sluffs it off, over and over, circulating waves into particles, the formless into form.

Here’s his speech to the House of Lords:

A dignified death is our right — I am in favor of assisted dying

And here is the larger context:

Desmond Tutu plea for ‘assisted dying’ before historic Lords debate

Archbishop calls for ‘mind shift’ on right to die and condemns as ‘disgraceful’ the treatment of the dying Nelson Mandela

I await the even larger question, whether or not deciding to die, even when one’s “condition” is not “terminal,” but simply because one has determined that one’s useful life (read: service to society) in this body is complete, should always be considered “suicide.” I think of two women who may have walked separately into the desert, leaving their dogs in the truck for others to find.

Did these two women deliberately walk into the desert to die?

If so, that’s one way to do it. And I used to think that’s what I would do, when the time came. But now I realize that, for me, an even better way would be to die at home, ceremonially, with supportive friends nearby, in a conscious and sacred manner. No violence. No guns or pills, or plastic bags. Just the capacity to leave the body, for good, at will. Probably through some kind of meditation/breathing technique. Asian monks do it. If even only a single soul has successfully left the body this way, that means that we can all learn how, or at least I can, and that is my goal.

Imagine how massive the cultural changes, if we no longer not only did not fear death, but welcomed it, as the birthing process to larger life.

Just as in natural childbirth, I was taught to breathe my way through each contraction, so too in natural deathing, I will also breathe my way through. So simple. So obvious.

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0 Responses to Desmond Tutu calls for a "mind shift" on the right to die

  1. Surely we are designed to each know when to let go and when to hang on. When we pass through the doors of any western medical facility for care, it’s often too late to make up a new end-of-life healthcare contract.

    • Totally agree. Our Mom said she told Dad (who has since passed) I think four years ago, that she was ready to go. He did not listen. Thought she was depressed. Now she’s sunk so far into dementia that she can no longer think about this the way she did then, and is left, being a “good sport” about still waking up each morning, being helped out of bed, into the bathroom, onto the toilet, dressed, walking with her walker to the table for breakfast, etc. Throughout, despite sister Paula’s exemplary 24/7 caregiving, Mom does feel depressed to me. Who wouldn’t?

      • Here’s what I’m thinking for Jan and I as a different sort of “agreement.” I suspect my deceased Mom may have used this on my living Dad, who while he was dying of Asbestosis and in full mental control, stuck her astral foot out and mercifully tripped Dad while he was walking down the hall to get his morning coffee, still living independently. Whoops, down he went, bumped his head hard, out cold, never woke up, died on the spot. What a great way to die, if you have to pick one, and we all do (did/will). I’m sure Mom knew everything she needed to know and considered everyone’s interests, emotions, and needs. In any event I’m thinking of making a similar contract with my dear Jan, especially if she goes first. She’ll know the perfect moment for me, or, I will know the perfect moment for her.

  2. bumpercrop says:

    I find it interesting that those who follow the Abrahamic religions, especially Christians, are often the most adamant advocates for the industrial medical paradigm of keeping people alive, long after nature’s due date. I think this is because they worship the war god Yahweh, A mean god who traumatizes humans with the erroneous message of a never ending hell, if judged to be unworthy.
    Given the current paradigm that the majority of humans feel unworthy, it stands to reason that many would then be afraid to die.
    The irony is that religion is supposed to bring comfort to the dying.
    The Christians in America, especially the evangelicals, do much damage in preventing assisted dying. I for one, do not intend on becoming helpless and dependent on others, if I can in any way avoid that from occurring. I predicted years ago, that the baby boomers would revolutionize the manner in which we experience the dying process.

    • Lots to chew on, here. And agree with! When our very very Catholic doctor/daddy was on his death bed, he got the willies. Wondered if he had led a “good enough” life (not to go to the fires of HELL, I suspect). As a result, he did NOT want to die. We had to convince him that basically, at 95, and with only 5% kidney function left, he was not a good candidate for dialysis.

      And I think you’re right, that the trouble ultimately, is rooted in the Matrix which condemns us for following our own original natures and says we must be baptized from Original Sin. What sin? How stupid is that?


  3. Pamela says:

    “I will also breathe my way through. So simple. So obvious.”

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