“Death is not the greatest loss in life. The greatest loss is what dies inside us while we die” – Norman Cousins
It is never easy dealing with death and dying. It is heartbreaking to see people dying. Despite every effort, no one lives forever. This is the universal truth everyone has to accept. Nonetheless, peaceful death can lessen the sorrow, grief of dying people as well as those who care for the dying person. The concept of a peaceful death is mounting in the country. Many hospices are now providing their services to make death easier.
I got a chance to visit one of the hospices located on the outskirts of Kathmandu. There were several patients receiving the care among which cancer patients occupied the maximum numbers of beds. My heart nearly broke into pieces when I first saw the patients. It was even more painful listening to their stories. It was quite challenging and only the braveheart could listen to them. I could have burst into tears if I had no boundaries regarding my profession. My brain stopped working, my heart stopped beating for a couple of seconds. But I can do nothing to cease their death or delay their death. One of the patients said, “ it is my fate, I am not going to live longer, I am very unfortunate to live with this kind of life taking disease inside me”. I felt the pain in my heart as if someone had squeezed my heart, after listening to him.
The entire Hospice family is providing good services to the patients and their family members. They have the provision of free stay and free food for patients. They also serve food at the very least price for the patient’s family members and a free stay at the Hospice. Patients and their families were gratified by the care and response they were receiving. By various means, the staff manages to make them calm. The staff of the Hospice creates a very homely environment. They lend their ears to the patients and their family members which helps the patients as well as families to ventilate their feelings. They not only care for a patient’s disease, they care about the patient as a whole. Whole means body, mind, and spirit where every aspect of the patient is addressed. (physical, emotional, spiritual, psychological )
Some of the patients were brought by their family members and some opted themselves to come and stay there when medical treatment no longer helped them. I met an 80 years old male patient who had a large mass under his right ear. He said he was brought there by the people for whom he worked as a factotum since his childhood after confirming that no treatment is going to help him. He was all alone, no one beside him to talk to. I cannot explain how I exactly felt after knowing his story. My heart is immersed in a pool of immense sadness. Old age is the time where one takes a break from a busy life and enjoys the time remembering all of their happy moments. But he had very bitter experiences throughout his life and again in his old age he is suffering from a deadly disease called cancer. I feel very sorry for him. I wish I could do anything good for him. Despite having his own name, he was called by some other name. He said,” I have my name but no one calls me by my name. They gave me a new name and they started to call me by that name”.
There was another young male patient of 27 years who was living an extremely painful life for several months. He was working in Malaysia some months ago where he was earning for himself and for his family. It was only some days back before he was going to start his family when he was diagnosed with Ewing’s Sarcoma, a type of bone cancer. He had his dreams, desires, wants which he now won’t be able to fulfill. His family had just started to search for a girl for him to get married. He was very happy about that. He wanted to start a new life. But cancer took away all his happiness in no time. They will remain unfulfilled forever. He even had not spent enough years of his life, how could the so-called God take away him at this very early age. He was not in a state to accept the truth. He shows a great denial of the truth. He is angry with God who is going to take away his life. He really does not want to die. He usually looks at his pictures with his friends and families where he looks handsome( now he cannot walk alone, he needs crutches or someone to take even small steps, he has also lost some of his body weight) and cries silently between the four walls and curses for his fate. I felt if I could do anything for him. My heart cries whenever I see him.
We usually say “I am not afraid of death or it is harder to live rather than to die”. But when death is waiting at your doorsteps and is almost ready to take you away from the real world, you will feel and understand what life means to you. Death is the ultimate truth across which everyone has to go through. No one can cease the death, all we could do is maybe lessen the pain the person is going through which may be physical, emotional, psychological, etc.