Death is something most people don’t like to or want to think about, until forced to. But we should. Not about dying itself, but about it being inevitable and to be prepared for it once the time comes – along with the loved ones.
Today my father brought this topic up in a conversation with my brother and I. He’s 70 years old, and although completely healthy and fit, is realistic about having most of his years behind him. He wanted to discuss a topic of importance to him, that’s what happens to his body after he’s gone. He’s done some extensive research on how to donate his body to science and medical research, as he wants to not just donate all organs that might be possible but to offer his dead body for medical students’ practicing. He had read in a newspaper how most medical students never see a dead body during their studies, as there just aren’t many donated for that kind of medical training – purposes.
Many years back I’ve already done an organ donor – testament and also mentioned to my family I’d prefer after my death that my body be fully utilised in which ever way possible. For me, my body is not me, and once I have no more need for it, I’d rather give it for meaningful use. I think it’s a beautiful thing to be able to help, even with death. When it’s my time to go, I could still be able to do some good; by donating organs, and giving medical students a chance to practice on a real body.
I was pleased my father had thought this through for himself and that he wanted me and my brother to be on the same page and accept it. I believe it will also be a comforting thought at a time of grievance, to know that other people are getting help through our loss. That’s the kind of death I want for myself one day as well. Death won’t feel so useless, and a complete end, when new life might come out of it.
It’s interesting though how difficult it is to donate your body for medical research. My father has made some 15 phone calls and still doesn’t have all the answers and proper paper work done, to guarantee authorities are aware of his decision and will and how it shall be organised when the time comes. It does provide quite a bit of bureaucracy to go through, and surely is better to be dealt with now and not at the moment of loss and grievance. Most people won’t be bothered to be proactive in planning how their eventual death could be made beneficial as well, so societies and especially university hospitals could and should be more active on raising this topic.
Our bodies are not us and we won’t have any need for the body once it stops living. Why not end our lives with a one last good action, then?
My godmother writes a Christmas letter every year, reflecting on the past year and thanking for having been part of it. In her letter this year, she used a great quote – “One day we all will die. But on every other day we will not.” The focus should be on all those days when we don’t die. Still, it’s good to be prepared and make sure our death won’t go to waste, either.