The process of family and friends gathering together for post funeral grieving turned out to supply us with interesting insight. Given the theme of the event, people tend to be more open than they normally are towards sharing their personal experience. What we learned from this sharing is that there are a lot of people suffering through severe health issues out there.
Most interesting, though, was the personal story of a friend who told us of his adventures with his aging father. As fate would have it, both fathers suffered through incredibly similar circumstances. Both had the same background condition, both suffered the same injury that triggered the whole cataclysmic chain of events, and both even ended up at in the same old age care institutions at the same time. The only differences? That friend's family chose Medical Operation B instead of Medical Operation A.
Pouncing on this information, we were extremely interested to know what the outcome of B instead of A is. Alas, the results are not as clear cut as we were hoping they would be, not to mention not that nice to hear of in general: the father is alive, yes, but his quality of living is far below what I would consider a life worth living.
Naturally, this grief acquired insight got me thinking. Now I think I can summarise my conclusions at the bullet point level:
- Nature is a harsh mistress. Calamity is just around the corner for each and every one of us. Modern civilisation protects us from nature's cruelty most of the time, but eventually the inevitable will catch up on us.
- This old age thing is serious business. Things we would totally disregard in our younger years can have huge implications once one passes the mid sixties.
- As much as we would like to think that we always have choices between good and bad, that is not the case. It is just a matter of time before all the choices before us are bad ones.
- It is also just a matter of time before control is taken away from us. We could lose control only briefly and die of a heart attack, we could - like my father - have a year from hell, or we could lose "it" and live more like automatons for decades. Regardless, at one stage or another we will no longer be in control of our lives.
I will leave you with a few words from Richard Dawkins. Surprisingly [or not], he seemed to have arrived at the same conclusion I have: