How Do You Want to Pass Away ?
Seinan Jogakuin Middle School
The Bible says "There is a time to be born, and there is a time to die." All of us will die but we don't know when or how. How do you want to die? Of course, it is ideal to live a long and healthy life, without any sickness, any treatment, and any hospitalization. I am young and had never thought about death until my grandmother died. She had always said that she wanted to die peacefully at home in her own bed. She made it clear that she didn't want to die in a hospital hooked up to a machine with tubes in her body. But in reality, she went through these sufferings and it made me think about the topic of death.
Five years ago, my grandmother got sick. She had Alzheimerfs disease and gradually had difficulty in getting around by herself. One morning of September last year, she had a stroke and was hospitalized for six months. I helped her change clothes, eat meals, go to the toilet, change her diaper, and brush her teeth in the hospital. Sometimes it was very hard to take care of her, because she forgot things easily. However, I really loved my grandmother so I did my best to take care of her. She often said to me, gThank you, Reika! Thank you!h When I heard her words,
I felt my tiredness go away. We often sang her favorite turtle song gmoshi moshi kameyo kamesannyo.h We enjoyed our time together but she always looked sad whenever my mother and
I left the hospital. I wished we could have taken care of her at home!
Although she had expressed her wish that she did not want to prolong her life with the help of a machine and tubes, we had her hooked to a life-support system when her condition got worse. When the doctors told us it was just the machine keeping her alive, we struggled with choosing the best option for her. She was getting weaker each day and even though we wanted her to live longer, we did not want to see her suffering. Finally, we decided to respect my grandmotherfs wish and chose to turn off the machine.
It was a painful decision. There were times when I doubted if my parents made the right one. At around the same time, we visited another relative in the hospital who had a feeding tube inserted into her stomach. Contrary to her wishes, her husband consented to the procedure to keep her alive. She tried to pull it out, so they tied her hands to the bed. When I saw the kind of life she was being forced to live, I understood why my parents chose to respect my grandmotherfs spoken wish.
Do you want to live longer with a life-support system? Do you want your family to live longer with a life-support system? I donft. I would like to die in peace without suffering or regret, surrounded by my loved ones, if possible at home, not in a hospital. gDeath with dignity,h Mother Teresa said, gis to die with grace in the knowledge that you are loved.h@I want my final days to be lived with as much human dignity as possible.
(3-8 Speech in 65th Contest, 2013)
(C)JNSA FUND/the Yomiuri Shimbun
All of the speeches are copyrighted material of JNSA FUND and The Yomiuri Shimbun, and are protected by the Japanese copyright law.