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To Die

Today I did a talk in Robertson, after which someone came to talk to me about her Mother who is living with forgetfulness. She told me that her Mother has really deteriorated over the last few months – she now lives in bed, needs help with all her activities of daily living, has stopped talking and does not want to eat. On her last visit to her Mum, she asked her “How are you?” Her Mum just stared at her with soulful, knowing eyes. A few minutes later she said in a clear voice “I want to go now”.

The daughter was clearly distraught and asked me what to do. Who must they speak to? Which doctor or specialist must they consult?

I asked her why she wants to consult a doctor – is the message not very clear from her Mum that she wants to die?

Tears welled up in her eyes. She looked at me in disbelief – “But what should we do?” My answer was not what she expected – “you should honour your Mother’s wish. Tell her that you respect her wish to die. Tell her that she has done her work here, that you are all well, and that you will be nice if she goes. Comfort her, and give her permission to die in peace”.

The tears just kept on rolling down her face. She was relieved, as much as she was taken aback. Someone she did not expect to hear this. Yet, she knew that it was the end of the road for her Mom.

I told her to go back and tell her Mom all the things that she always wanted to tell her.

Why do we nd it so dif cult to let people go who clearly have done their living? Maybe because we have not finished our business with them? Let go. Honour an Elder’s wish to let go of this life – assure them that it is fine to leave this world. That they have done a good job, that everyone will be ok, even though you will miss them terribly. Give them the permission to die in peace. It is a huge relief for them to hear this message. And you will never regret having had that conversation.

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