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As Night Draws Nigh

When I was younger, so much younger than today,
I never needed anybody's help in any way.
But now these days are gone, I'm not so self assured,
Now I find I've changed my mind and opened up the doors.

John Lennon, the Beatles

Mozart's Final Piano concerto

Nature gives to every season some beauties of its own; and from spring to winter, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress:[9]
  • The 1st quarter of a person's life is like springtime, a time to grow and cultivate oneself.
  • The 2nd quarter corresponds with summer and is a time to develop and prosper.
  • The 3rd quarter of the cycle is the autumn of one's life, a time to harvest and enjoy the fruits of one's development.
  • The winter quarter is a time to come back to quietness, to cultivate the vital root of life and to restore one's energy.
The only pity is that time flows one way in life.

A Life Worth Living

In Dr. Robert Martensen's book—A Life Worth Living, he states that:
When it comes to dying in America these days, many of us depart the world, if not entirely alone, then in the company of mere strangers, the ones like health care practitioners who staff hospitals. Meanwhile, those who have mattered most to us remain just offstage, in an ICU lounge perhaps, waiting for a nurse's announcement that we have "passed."
Have you been with someone who is dying? Experience tells us that there are better and worse ways to die in a hospital[2-6]. At the moment when someone you love may be most alone, it seems the only comfort you can provide to him/her is staying with them if circumstances permit.

My Story

When my mother was diagnosed with cancer, doctor told us that she would have only a few weeks to live. The moment she was admitted to the hospital in Washington D.C. area, I and my sister decided to accompany her to walk her through the last moments of her life.

Fortunately, my mother was assigned a single room and I was able to sleep over in one of the sleeping chair. In the day, my sister accompanied her by the bedside. In the evening, I did my part . Not every health care practitioners can face dying patients comfortably. Some of them would rush through their daily routines and stay away from the dying patients as far as possible. There was only one exceptional nurse from Philippine who had an angel heart. After finishing her routines, she would help my mother to turn her sides and clean her back. Most of time my mother just roamed her eyes around the room without many responses. She seemed to wonder where she was. However, my mother would always smile to the nurse whenever she showed up in her room.

To make her feel more comfortable and at home, we have brought her CD's and played music for her every night. These were Christian Hymns. They were played beautifully and gracefully into wee hours of the evenings. Some nurses had stopped by and told us that they also enjoyed the music. At regular intervals, we would help nurses with their daily routines. In addition, with our presences, nurses seemed to feel more comfortable when they stepped into the room. Therefore, our presences were appreciated and well accepted.

As a dying patient, my mother's doctor offered more helps on reducing her pains than other unrelenting and burdensome treatments. In our case, morphine was prescribed and the dosage was increased gradually. In one morning and at the presence of me and my sister, my mother first showed signs of struggling with her breaths, then she breathed her last breath and passed away peacefully.

The Weaver

When I stayed overnight in the hospital, I came upon this poem on the hospital's computer—The Weaver:

My life is but a weaving
Between my Lord and me,
I cannot choose the colors
He worketh steadily.

Oftimes He weaveth sorrow,
And I in foolish pride
Forget He sees the upper
And I, the underside.

Not till the loom in silent
And the shuttles cease to fly
Shall God unroll the canvas
And explain the reason why.

The dark threads are as needful
In the Weaver's skillful hand
As the threads of gold and silver
In the pattern He has planned.

- Author Unknown

See Also

  1. How will the Baby Boomers age and die?
  2. At the end of life, never underestimate the power of a map
  3. How doctors choose to die
  4. Daily Schedule: Geriatric Adult Home
  5. When end of life approaches: 2 pathways of care
  6. One Doctor—Close calls, cold cases, and the mysteries of medicine by Brendan Reilly, M.D.
    • "One Doctor contains the essence of all of it: our humanity and nobility—and why we are all entranced by medical dramas of every kind.  A stunning book." Christiane Northrup, M.D.
  7. Why Doctors Die Differently
    • An Analysis of the Concept of a Good Death," ranked the attributes of a graceful death, among them: being comfortable and in control, having a sense of closure, making the most of relationships and having family involved in care. Hospitals today provide few of these qualities.
  8. What happens to us when we lie about dying?
    • The denial of death is critical support for futile medical care, missed opportunity and needless suffering. 
  9. Charles Dickens
    • "Nature gives to every time and season some beauties of its own; and from morning to night, as from the cradle to the grave, it is but a succession of changes so gentle and easy that we can scarcely mark their progress."
  10. Should CPR Be the Default Treatment for All Cardiac Arrests? (Travel to Health)
  11. Care of the dying patient: the last hours or days of life
  12. What It Feels Like to Die (good)
  13. At His Own Wake, Celebrating Life and the Gift of Death
  14. The Symptoms of Dying
  15. Why being aware of your mortality is good for you