Since becoming a widow, I’ve given a lot of thought to the value of my life; the purpose and the meaning of it. I’ve wondered why I’m here in this world that seems so filled with pain. I’ve wondered if I want to continue living in this world into old age. I’ve wondered if there is a greater positive impact on my life – or my death.
As I hit one stumbling block after another, I have to wonder if I want to fight for my life should it become medically necessary to do so. And the answer is … I don’t know.
You see, I’m miserable. I spend my days alone and I imagine much of my future will be spent alone. I am not the kind of woman that most men want to date, and I’m not willing to pretend to be a different kind of woman just to fix that. I don’t expect that I will ever remarry, and I am unable to have children. Every time I try to change my course to a happy future, I seem to fail.
I’ve thought long and hard about my medical future and I have decided that when my body tells me it’s done, then it’s done. I’m not going to fight it. And I’m not going to fight it because I believe that there is a greater social worth to my death than to my life at this moment in time.
And that means that when my kidneys fail, or if I develop cancer, or if my blood condition goes into overdrive, I will not fight it. I will let nature take her course without medical intervention.
I’m not suicidal. I don’t want to bring about my death or demise. I don’t actively want to die. I just don’t see the value of fighting to live in a world that I don’t enjoy. I hope that I can find a reason to want to fight for my life in the future but for now, I don’t. (I’m sure that doesn’t make sense to most people.)
The way I see it is this:
There is a shortage of resources in the world today. There is a shortage of organs. There is a shortage of jobs. There is a shortage of money required to run hospitals effectively. And I feel that those resources would be better served on the life of someone else; on the life of someone who actually enjoys their life.
If I take a kidney, it’s one less kidney available for someone with a young family to support – or with a loving spouse who needs them. If I accept dialysis or cancer treatments, there is a burden on the insurance or tax systems that could be better served by treating someone who loves their life and is passionate about their future. It seems selfish for me, a childless, partnerless, hopeless, and passionless woman to take away those resources from someone who has a greater appreciation for them.
And if I should opt to let my body return to ashes and for my soul to return to God, then it means that there are resources for others to enjoy. In addition to not taking an organ out of “circulation” so to speak, I’d be leaving an opportunity for someone to have a job and I’d be eliminating my burden on social programmes as well as my individual carbon footprint. And, importantly, I would be able to assist in scientific research, as I plan to donate my kidneys as needed. But the rest of me will be buried with my husband.
I know it’s hard to understand this way of thinking. And I’m sure that there are those people who are appalled that I would even suggest such a thing. But I’ve given it so much thought and I have to admit that, at this point in my life, I don’t see the point in fighting to live if my body says it’s done.
Maybe life will change and my outlook will change before I have to put these thoughts into action. And I would be OK with that. If my life changes and all of the sudden I feel happy and hopeful about my future, then I would be happy to change my stance and to fight. But it’s been nearly four years since I’ve been thinking about my social worth and I haven’t felt the desire to fight in all of that time.
And, yes, I know that my family and friends may feel differently than I do about my social worth. And I appreciate that so very much. But if my body says it’s ready to die, I would hope that those who love me would be pleased to know that my emotional pain will cease when my body gives up, and I will be reunited with Paul in Heaven above. And that should give them cause to celebrate my life, rather than mourn my passing.
And I should point out that I do not believe that social worth should be used to determine the allocation of resources by healthcare professionals or government officials. I am merely saying that for me, personally, I feel that it is the way I need to think about my own future.
So, if I should die before I wake … that will be OK because I will be with my Saviour and my husband and someone else will happily benefit, even if they don’t know why.
(No, seriously; I’m not suicidal. Really. I promise.)
UPDATE: I have received a lot of feedback from family and friends on this post, so have written a follow-up that I hope will provide further clarification for my reasoning for this post. I do value my life and I want to be very clear about that.