“License and Registration, Please”
First, thanks to everyone who read (and commented) yesterday about the “no-CPR” incident. This update from the press: “Lorraine Bayless had chosen to live in a facility without medical staff and wanted to pass away without life-prolonging intervention, her family said Tuesday.”
Most, but not all, commenters were somehow related to the health field. But, several folks shared their own experiences with a loved one which was quite valuable.
Common words were legality, professional, Do Not Resuscitate(DNR), duty, and licensing. Even writers that were quite concerned about the ramifications of not acting expressed the need for people to die with dignity and freedom.
It’s hard not to conclude that in our litigious and buttoned-down society that the DNR order has become a license to die. Without it, you risk ignominy or worse. According to the Pasadena News, “City fire officials say Bayless did not have a “do not resuscitate” order on file at the home.” Conservatives worth their salt and any libertarian should be aghast to know that you now need the city’s permission to die.
She’s in the Parlor
Many of us are fortunate to have people in our lives who can recall a death at home where the corpse never left the house until the burial. They were washed and dressed and placed in the parlor for folks to come and pay their respects.
Such a thing is probably illegal now but it illustrates how the process of death these days routinely includes transfer to a hospital, which should seem a little odd.
In one sense, this “we die at the hospital” mentality has now been walked back to the point that you are not allowed to die outside the hospital unless you have your DNR passport.
The emergency response system, including EMS, fire and 911 call takers are now part of the “you must die at the hospital” culture we live in. In fact, Bakersfield became a story over a call taker’s “heroic” efforts to recruit a CPR provider.
The Last Trip
As a society we have created an environment where the universal last, great trip is being robbed of its ambiguity, grace and freedom. In fact, the current system, especially for those content to go, argues in favor of a solitary death where the risk of interference is minimized. We are all ultimately alone at the end, but that is a high price to pay.
I have several people in my life who “are ready.” And, I have known others. I hope that when their time comes that they make their transition free of pain, but with grace and dignity.