Nitty Gritty Dirty Grief

Don’t hate me for this post….

Because you might.

You know one of those posts where your rational brain says, “maybe you shouldn’t go there.”

But that other brain says, “I can’t get this off my mind?”

This is one of those posts.

Hubby and I wake up every morning to NPR. This usually means I am processing conversations between Dennis Rodman and Kim Jong Un in a dream-like, semi comatose state.

Sometimes it’s easier to take the news this way. The other day, as I hit the snooze button again, I heard about an 87 year old woman being denied CPR in her retirement home.  She collapsed on the way to lunch and stopped breathing. It was against the independent living facility to administer CPR. So the nurse did not. And the 87 year old woman died. 

I slowly woke up and listened to the news.

As move on with the lifelong process of dealing with my own grief, I have become intrigued with how we deal with death as a society and I have to say….in my humble opinion…..

It’s a tad messed up.

Here’s my thought. If I’m 87 years old and I’m going to lunch and my heart gives out, I fall to the floor and stop breathing? Please don’t try and resuscitate me. At this point in time I am old.  I hope I have lived a life I am proud of. I hope I know who you are. I hope I can make it to the bathroom on my own.

I don’t mean to be flippant about these things….this is what I really do hope. Given that I now pee a bit when I sneeze, the bathroom thing might be far fetched………I can live with some things.

Please don’t give me CPR at 87. Currently at 42? Sure fight like hell for me. At 87? Nah. I only have a 5-10% chance of survival and my recovery would never be the same. I don’t want to be hooked up to some machine At most, I might have had a couple more years. At 87, I think I would be good with moving on.

Please don’t say things like my daughter must be heartless and cold for being okay that the nurse didn’t do CPR. You do not know me, you do not know my daughter. Well in my case, you do know my daughter, you know where she must be and that I am thrilled to follow her.

I find it ironic that young people die in horrible situations everyday, situations that could have been prevented and this is our focus. Is it because it sheds a light on our own vulnerability as we age? That people won’t do all they can do for us as we age? And when is it relevant to do everything? Or to not? 

When is it okay to die?

Perhaps I am missing something. Either way, the story makes me sad…..sad for the family, the nurse, and anyone in contact with this story. Maybe it will start a dialogue about when it’s okay and not okay to move on and let a life be a life. 

Because I just sneezed. 

4 thoughts on “Don’t hate me for this post….”

  1. Thank you. I've been discussing this story with my students this week, especially as we cover euthanasia. You said what I've been thinking so very well.Our society has got to start really talking about life and death and the reality that death is. If I'm 87 and go before lunch, the only thing I'm sorry about is missing lunch (and if I'm in an assisted living facility, I might be relieved).


  2. Totally agree!! I am a biased nurse, but I still totally agree with you and I also think that nurse followed protocol (that was certainly signed and agreed upon by that woman and her family) and did exactly as she should.


  3. I'm absolutely in agreement, your post is something we all need to be talking about. I suspect that many people have been so separated from the reality of birth and death as to be terrified of both. Willing to hand over those most basic human functions to the impersonality of hospitals or paid care givers. [Please note that I am ever so appreciative of medical intervention and hospice care with considered request.] We're a family where 22 of the grandkids were home birthed (all low risk births with licensed midwives). We've been regularly accused of child abuse. =OAnd at the other end, we're only at 3 home deaths… that also seems to horrify most people.One of my biggest 'preaching' points is that everyone should have an Advanced Healthcare Directive. It makes departure easier and less fraught with second thoughts and self recriminations… plus inevitable family arguments.


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