QUESTION: What happens when we stop treatment and Mom doesn’t die?
This is such a general question that it is hard to answer specifically but here are some ideas to consider.
There are so many dynamics to dying from disease or old age that it is impossible to put an exact number on how long someone has to live. Yet we do that all the time. I remember an oncologist telling my mother that if she didn’t have chemotherapy and radiation for her cancer of the lung she would be dead in six months (yes, very harsh words particularly since I was suggesting she not have the recommended treatment). She chose not to have the treatment but come six months she thought she would die each day of that month. She actually lived 18 months from diagnosis with no treatment. My point is what is the treatment? Experience has shown that some treatments actually shorten a person’s life due to side effects of that very treatment. Treatments are stopped, side effects diminish, energy returns and life continues for a bit longer than everyone expected.
The dynamics of dying show there is a process to dying a gradual death from disease or old age. That process takes 2 - 4 months. Part of the dynamic is that we die the way we have lived, die according to our personality and that we have limited control over the time that we die. With these factors a person approaching death from disease or old age has some limited control hence mom doesn’t die as soon as treatment is stopped. There may be issues that she needs to address. Even if she is non responsive she can linger for issues that need closure.
I remember a situation years ago where a person was taken off of life support machines. Family gathered round expecting death to follow yet the person actually began breathing and lived many years, in a vegetative, non responsive state, but with a body that could breath on its own. Who knew that would happen? But it did. Why? We don’t know.
Now I will go out on a limb and say maybe a person doesn’t die when we, the medical professionals, expect them to because someone is still learning something, their work on this planet is not yet finished. Or maybe there is simply so much about living, life, the human spirt and purpose that we don’t know and understand. Maybe someone continues living beyond all the odds and predictions simply because that is what is happening. There is no reason, it just isn't time yet.
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