A recent NY Times short article titled Always a Doctor, Even in the Dying of the Light described
the last months of life of a physician, a former radiologist and his family's reaction to it.
The doctor was continually analyzing his own body's failing condition with the objectivity of a physician dealing with a patient.
It seemed rather strange to those around him, but it was his way. I suppose none of us know
how we will regard our own dying. And we need to honor each individual soul's approach to death.
But I doubt that I will approach my own dying the way this doctor did.
Despite his own suffering and those around him, he kept refusing Hospice care. He wanted
'everything done' although it was clear that nothing truly could be done other than to use valuable resources [blood] that could have been better served helping others whose prognosis was far greater than his. it was also clear that his loving family was suffering in the process as well.
There is a time when the metaphysician within everyone of us must come to terms with our own mortality. It will most likely not be easy for most of us since all we know and all we cherish is this physical form and this lifetime. Hopefully, however, more of us, doctors included, will awake to the daily and continuous awareness that any one lifetime, however much a gift, is a part-time occupation.
We need to remain aware that we are part-time 'occupiers' of this physical body. This is not a nihilistic or life-denying approach to life. Quite the opposite. We need to cherish our time here and be sure not to waste a minute of it. But when our bodies inevitably wear out we must not tarry too long.
It only adds unnecessary pain and suffering to ourselves and those we love.